Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gerry Ritz should be fired: part X

Remember the listeriosis crisis of the summer of 2008? And the ensuing Weatherill report commissioned by the Harper government to make recommendations to ensure that the meat inspection regimes were improved, etc.? Well, in our continuing series of posts documenting the laissez faire attitude of this government toward, you know, governing, turns out there are serious questions about whether Ritz is on the job here in implementing its recommendations:
Six months after an investigation into the tragic listeriosis outbreak recommended a wholesale evaluation of the food-safety system, the government has yet to act, food inspectors and a consumers group said Wednesday.

Option Consommateurs, the country's largest consumer organization, and the union representing the inspectors said the government still has to determine how many people it needs to ensure safe food and to figure out if a new inspection system actually works.

They said the government has yet to act on the key recommendations produced by a special investigation into the tainted-meat crisis.

The 2008 outbreak, traced to contaminated cold cuts from a Maple Leaf Foods plant, killed 22 people and sickened many more.

Sheila Weatherill, who was appointed to investigate the tragedy, called for a tough evaluation of the system. That hasn't happened, the union said.

"Six months after Sheila Weatherill's report, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency efforts to improve have been hamstrung by the absence of political will and commitment to improve on the part of the federal government," said Bob Kingston, president of the Agriculture Union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, representing food inspectors.
The obligatory addendum these days:
With Parliament prorogued, there is little that consumers can do to pressure the government, he added.
The Ritz team did oblige the press with an email. That much they can manage:
However, in an email statement, Ritz said the government "responded quickly and concretely" to Weatherill's report by "moving forward on all 57 recommendations and immediately investing $75 million to improve Canada's food safety system."
Strange how key stakeholders who are keenly aware of the on the ground circumstances, the union and the consumer group, just don't agree with the "moving forward" platitude nor do they see the connection between the money and results coming to any tangible fruition.

Ed note: The "Gerry Ritz should be fired" series began in the summer of 2008, parts I - IX can be found by searching the "gerry ritz" label on the blog.