FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2002
Food safety at risk: province puts meat inspectors, public in danger
GUELPH - The provincial government’s approach to meat inspection is putting worker health and public safety at risk with its cuts, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Ontario now has eight full-time provincial meat inspectors, down from 150 in 1996. Ontario has laid off all its Farm Products Inspectors.
OPSEU President Leah Casselman said this is part of the “Walkertonization” of the public service. “The public service is a system, and a system only works when all of the parts are in place,” she said. “That system is Ontario’s first line of defense, but in its current state, it cannot protect the public.”
Liberal Critic for Agriculture and Food, Steve Peters, MPP, agrees. Peters said a meat inspector contacted him after she contracted campylobacter, a disease found in chicken, while on the job, subsequently missed three days of work and was fired. "This provides yet again, another clear example of this Tory government having
absolutely no commitment to OMAFRA's food inspection sector and the vital role our public service plays in ensuring public health and safety," said Peters.
Peters will join other Ontario MPPs in signing OPSEU's pledge to rebuild the Ontario Public Service (OPS).
“The real crisis in Ontario is a public service crisis, and Ontario has no choice but to begin to rebuild. Public servants ensure that our streets are safe, that our food is safe, that our water is safe. We must support the people on the front lines by giving them the recognition and respect that they deserve and need to do their
jobs,” said Casselman.
Casselman is meeting with members and touring several OPS workplaces in Guelph and area to talk about OPS bargaining and the renewal of the public service. She will visit OPS workplaces in dozens of Ontario communities over the next month. OPSEU is bargaining with the government of Ontario for a new contract for 45,000 OPS
employees. The union applied for conciliation Jan. 24. The contract expired Dec. 31, 2001.
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For more information:
David Cox, OPSEU Communications: 416-443-8888 x314; Cell 416-788-9197
Suzanne van Bommel, Steve Peters’ office: 519-631-4190
Doug Peebles, OPSEU Guelph office: 519-837-3330