Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Canadian Medical Association Journal slams Harper government on listeriosis

The medical community putting the listeriosis outbreak at Harper's front step:
"As in the Walkerton and SARS epidemics, an outbreak of this size may point to systemic failures across multiple levels," states the editorial in the latest edition of the journal, referring to a deadly water contamination eight years ago in Walkerton, Ont.

"Listeria is the biological agent, cold cuts the vector, but the ultimate cause may be found in risky government decisions."

The editorial, signed by several doctors and journal editors, states that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has reversed much of the progress previous governments made in relation to public health.

The editorial takes aim at the Conservative government's decision to transfer inspection duties for ready-to-eat meats to the meat industry itself, while allowing listeria standards to remain lower than they are in most countries and stripping the Public Health Agency of Canada of much of its political clout.

The editorial also makes the case for a full-scale, arms-length public inquiry similar to those for the tainted blood scandal, Walkerton and the SARS epidemic, rather than the investigation called for by the Harper government.

"A full-scale public inquiry into the major failings of Canada's food inspection system is necessary to protect Canadians from future epidemic threats, and the Canadian public should settle for nothing less than that," the editorial states
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When the medical community speaks, the Canadian public listens.