Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on Thursday conceded the government has not conducted an external audit to determine how many inspectors are needed to police Canada's meat plants.
In the wake of the deadly listeriosis outbreak in the summer of 2008, independent investigator Sheila Weatherill said a resources audit by outside experts was needed because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency implemented its new inspection system without conducting a full assessment of resources required.
And after determining that the inspectors assigned to the Maple Leaf facility "appear to have been stressed due to their responsibilities at other plants," Weatherill said the audit also should include an analysis of how many plants for which an inspector should be responsible.
When pressed if Weatherill's audit recommendation has been satisfied, Ritz said he doesn't want to "split hairs."No, we don't want you splitting hairs either, Mr. Ritz. It was his government's commissioned report that called for a resources audit. Not a consultants' review. How many inspectors are needed to assure safety? That is the question and without that resources audit, Ritz can't answer it.
The recommendation calls on the government to retain third-party experts to conduct a resources audit "to accurately determine the demand on its inspection resources and the number of required inspectors."
Why do they continue to cut corners on this file given the serious consequences in the past and the ongoing risk that's not going away?
The series continues...