House of Commons Hansard #160 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, those numbers are available on the public Health Canada website. I am certain the member will check that number out.

The CFIA began acting on September 4. It continues to work on a science-based system that it has in place and will continue to do that job on recalls as they become necessary.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, frankly, this crisis is a complete fiasco.

There are many problems. Broken sprinklers, improper cleaning and an inadequate monitoring system allowed thousands of pounds of beef to become contaminated. This went on for weeks, and the proper authorities, the minister included, did nothing.

As a result, tainted meat ended up on the tables in thousands of Canadian households.

The minister does not want to take responsibility. Why not replace him with someone who will?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the CFIA continues to act on science-based reasoning. One illness is too much. Everybody agrees with that.

We continue to build a robust food safety system. We also have Bill S-11, the safe food for Canadians act, coming to us from the Senate. I invite the members opposite to help us expedite that, to give the CFIA more powers of recall.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the decision was made by the CFIA to delist XL products from companies that are permitted to export to the United States. Can the minister tell the House whether that decision was one that was requested by the American authorities or made independently by the food agency, and was the minister aware of that decision at the time it was made?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we have a robust food safety system, recognized by the Americans as well. We work in concert, due to the integrated nature of our beef industry in North America.

Having said that, the CFIA works with its counterparts on the American side to put forward the best interests of Canadian and American consumers, and it will continue to do that.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

October 5th, 2012 / 11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, however robust that system is, the minister is not very robust at answering simple questions.

I would like to ask the minister again this time. The only conclusion one can come to is that the American authorities appear to have been more concerned about the safety of all American consumers than the minister was concerned about the safety of Canadian consumers, because if that was not the case, why is it that CFIA decided to close the border to Canadian products going to the United States, to all American consumers, but did not at the same time close access to the Canadian market?

It took a further two weeks for the government to protect the Canadian consumer. Why the delay? Why would the Americans be doing a better job on behalf of their consumers than our government is doing on behalf of our consumers?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, as I said previously, we have a robust food safety system. There are differences between what the Americans do and what the Canadian CFIA does.

Having said that, we are both focused on our priority. Job number one is food safety for our Canadian consumers. As scientific evidence becomes available, as timelines began to become available, and the documentation that was required, CFIA continued to act, starting on September 4 and right up to today.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the facts and the science are the same in the United States. There is no difference between American science and Canadian science when it comes to the protection and safety of consumers.

It is incomprehensible that the Minister of Agriculture closed the border so that these products would not be made available to Americans, but then allowed the same products to be made available to Canadians for two more weeks. It makes no sense. The minister was seriously negligent in this regard.

How can he explain these inadequacies?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, actually CFIA has explained those inadequacies, as the member tries to call them. They are certainly not that.

There are differences in our systems. What we have is secondary testing at the CFIA level here in Canada. The Americans do not do that particular step.

At the same time, recall notices were put out for the most at-risk products, ground beef and trim, on September 16. The Americans did it the exact same day. As we continued to build our recall system later in September, the Americans did it on exactly the same day.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 2011, XL received $1.6 million in growing forward grants to install “state-of-the-art technology that will...double its per-day capacity for ground beef”.

The downside of this high-speed processing is that there is no room for error. In other words, the Conservatives helped build this ultra-modern facility.

My question to the minister is: Will he admit that he failed to provide the needed food safety resources to operate such an intense high-volume facility?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, what we have done as a government is make sure that CFIA has the inspection capabilities and the capacity to manage a plant such as this.

We have 46 inspectors on site on a daily basis. That is a 20% increase over the last few years.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, let us imagine this. The Brooks plant can now process 4,000 to 5,000 cows per day, yet since 2006 not a single new inspector position has been hired at the Brooks plant, except to fill vacancies.

The minister says otherwise. Will he now provide this House with the names, locations and job descriptions of all CFIA inspectors across this country, and let us end the confusion once and for all?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, there are things like privacy laws in Canada.

What I can say is that the officials at CFIA continue to work diligently on food safety in this country, and they will continue doing that job.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not only XL Foods that is being targeted by the American authorities. There are now concerns south of the border regarding our food inspection standards, which are simply not high enough for the American market. The Conservatives' incompetence when it comes to food safety could be costly for our ranchers.

Are the Conservatives beginning to understand the scope of the impact of their budget cuts on food safety?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, there have been absolutely no cutbacks to the food safety capacity in this great country. It is quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.

Over the last number of budgets and papers that we have produced, members can see a growing amount of dollars, some 20% increase in the budgetary capacity of the CFIA plus a 20% increase in the inspections in this particular plant alone.