Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Budget cuts revealed

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency aims to cut more than $54 million from its expenses this fiscal year, according to documents released under Access to Information.

The cuts come across a broad range of services, most of them dealing with quality assurance.

For example, there are cuts to research geared to inspection services, to seed inspections and to fertilizer-industry oversight.

The Seed Potato Quality Management Program, used mainly by growers in Alberta and New Brunswick, is one target outlined in an internal document stamped “Secret”. The savings for that cut are estimated at $1.2 million a year.

Another written by Sukhmander Sawhtiney, also marked “Secret” and headed “Alternative Service Delivery of Seed Crop Inspections – A Deficit Reduction Action Plan Proposal” makes a case for turning the job over to the private sector.

It indicates that 80 CFIA staff members, supplemented by 120 casual employees for seasonal work, have been doing the job.

It does not say how much the CFIA will save, but does say “the private sector is able to respond to change in the seed sector more quickly than government” and can step up service faster whenever there is a “sudden increase in demand”.

It also says “in some cases, seed companies may want to be licenced to conduct the inspection themselves.” There is no mention of the risks associated with conflict of interest.