Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians

That, in the opinion of the House, the government, and specifically the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of the Treasury Board, has failed to learn the painful lessons from Walkerton which proved that cuts to essential government services protecting the health and safety of Canadians are reckless and can cause Canadians to lose their lives; and further, that the House condemn the government for introducing a budget that will repeat the mistakes of the past and put Canadians in danger by reducing food inspection, search and rescue operations, and slashing environmental protections, and call on the government to reverse these positions.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, we have been speaking a lot today about food safety.

While I support the motion, I do it primarily because I am familiar with the cuts to environmental protection and what that will mean for Canada in the future.

I am curious about the member’s view of the Weatherill report. I found it interesting in the Weatherill report that her initial conclusion and the climate in which she made her decisions about the listeriosis outbreak was that we live in a world in which large-scale manufacturing and single plants are more likely. By their very nature, producing cold cuts in large-scale factories such as Maple Leaf Foods as opposed to lots of small facilities that support local farming communities was inherently more dangerous than the smaller local producers.

Does my hon. friend have any comments on the benefits of local agriculture as opposed to large, concentrated industrial facilities?

Hon. Hedy Fry: Mr. Speaker, we all want to support small farms, small businesses and small manufacturing enterprises. After all, these are the people who produce about 65% of the jobs in our country.

However, it does not really matter whether it is a very small enterprise or a very large enterprise, there must be inspection of the sanitary surroundings, whether people are taking the due precautions in terms of washing their hands, wearing gloves, wearing hairnets, wearing masks, and that the food itself is tested before it is packaged and it leaves the store and goes on to the shelf.

This is the only way that Canadians, especially Canadians who are compromised because of their health and chronic disease, who have Crohn’s disease and who have other problems, know the food they eat is safe.

That is why Canadians pay taxes.