The crippling of the provincial meat inspection system by seven years of cuts and attacks on meat inspectors will be a major issue in the upcoming Ontario election, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
"The Aylmer fiasco is, like Walkerton, another failure of the Tory government to protect public safety," says OPSEU president Leah Casselman. "After seven years of cuts and direct attacks on meat inspectors, the only surprise here is that the Aylmer recall didn't happen sooner."
A consultant's report five years ago cited "pressure to reduce and avoid costs" as playing a major role in the management of meat inspection by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
OMAF began its attacks on meat inspection in 1996-97, when close to 150 meat inspectors were laid off from their Ontario Public Service jobs and replaced by contract meat inspectors.
"Ontario's 130 contract meat inspectors work without benefits or pensions, with wages frozen at 1993 levels," said Casselman.