Food processors lobby to save jobs they say at risk
Essex County farmers voice packaging concerns to agriculture minister
Ottawa – January 28, 2013 – The Harper government's proposed changes to weaken Canadian food packaging regulations "is a recipe that could kill thousands of good food processing jobs in Canada," says UFCW Canada National President Hanley.
"What is being proposed will cause irreparable harm to Canada's food chain and economy, and as such should be withdrawn," said the leader of Canada's food workers union in an open letter to Gerry Ritz, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food who is promoting changes that would allow foreign food processors to flood the Canadian market with products that do not currently meet Canadian standards for uniform package weights and volumes for many processed food products.
The proposed changes have also come under fire from farmers' associations, agriculture communities, as well as Canada's food processing sector, which has suffered 80 plant closures and more than 13,000 job losses over the past five years. "Instead of protecting good Canadian food jobs, the proposal to drop uniform packaging will do just the opposite," said the national president.
"And it will not just kill food processing jobs. It will also harm the agriculture sector because a third of their revenue comes from selling their harvest to the processors. Hundreds of farm communities, and thousands of jobs are at stake."
The proposal to weaken the package regulations was buried in the Harper government's 2012 budget, without consulting the food processing industry, labour, or the agriculture sector. The changes have yet to go into effect, pending a review now being conducted in the wake of the pushback from the stakeholders.