Government of Canada invests $162.6 million to strengthen Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Backgrounder

The Government of Canada is investing $162.6 million in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) over the next five years and $40 million per year of ongoing funding after that to strengthen the safety of Canada's food supply, protect the health of plants and animals, and provide ongoing service to Canadian businesses as they grow their export and import activities.

As a large science-based regulatory agency, the CFIA has a broad mandate for safeguarding food safety and plant and animal health, as well as facilitating international market access for Canadian products. The CFIA operates 13 diagnostic and research laboratories across Canada, and has a workforce of just over 6,000 staff which includes highly specialized veterinarians, inspectors, and regulatory scientists. In fiscal year 2019-20, the CFIA's overall budget was $820 million.

This new funding will support the CFIA in four key areas:

  • Export Certification to Support Market Access
  • Oversight of Imports
  • Domestic Oversight and Surveillance
  • Digitization

Export certification to support market access

  • The CFIA plays a key role in opening borders to Canadian products, as the only regulatory agency in Canada that can negotiate sanitary (food safety and animal health) and phytosanitary (plant health) export conditions with international trading partners.
  • Over the last seven years, the number of export certificates for food, plant and animal products issued by the CFIA has increased by an average of 6% per year, going from close to 384,000 certificates in 2014 to approximately 545,000 certificates in 2020.
  • With this funding, the CFIA will strengthen its ability to deliver timely inspection and certification of agriculture and agri-food exports, facilitating access to international markets for Canadian businesses.
  • The investment will also help to host and facilitate audits by existing and potential trading partners to satisfy trade requirements of foreign authorities and provide continued assurance that Canada's regulatory system is robust and that its products can safely flow into their countries.

Oversight of Imports

  • With $53.9 billion of agri-food products imported into Canada in 2019, the CFIA must be able to meet the growing demand from importers seeking to sell products on the Canadian market.
  • To do so, Canada's import safety control systems have to continuously evolve to stay ahead of pressures such as rapid growth in international trade, emerging technologies, consumer preferences, threats to food, plants and animals, and climate change.
  • This funding will support the Agency in conducting more inspections of imported shipments, in responding to complaints, and in moving towards prevention as the primary method for keeping food safe, plants protected and animals healthy.
  • This investment will enable the CFIA to enhance domestic and import food controls enacted through the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)and provide guidance and direction on requirements for newly licensed importers.
  • Funding will also help the CFIA analyze sampling and compliance data to improve inspections, policies and regulations. As the Agency gains a greater understanding of risks associated with imports, it can better prioritize the control measures that support improved compliance with Canadian requirements.

Domestic Oversight and Surveillance

  • CFIA controls more than 30 domestic quarantine pests (present and under official control in one or more regions of the country) and monitors over 20 terrestrial animal diseases of concern, and a similarly large number of aquatic diseases.
  • This investment will allow the CFIA to develop up-to-date and multi-jurisdiction response plans for the most significant and likely scenarios for plant pests and animal diseases.
  • With this funding, the CFIA will be able to increase its presence at high-risk and remote locations in Canada to conduct more frequent inspections and maintain industry awareness of regulatory requirements in relation to humane transportation and animal traceability.
  • The funding will also allow the CFIA to invest in cutting edge, high speed laboratory equipment, and exploit modern technology platforms (next-generation sequencing, metagenomics, whole-genome sequencing) to confirm their reliability for use in regulatory applications. This will allow the CFIA to deploy faster, more reliable and precise detection methods and remain on the forefront of modern regulatory science when providing technical expertise and collaborating with international trading partners.

Digitization

  • This funding will enable the CFIA to expand digital services so that more Canadian food exporters and importers can benefit from efficient and automated tools for risk management and inspection.
  • In order to support a strong domestic market and export growth, the CFIA created the Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP) to provide a continuum of services including e-billing, issuing permissions and certificates, and capturing inspection information of various establishments by commodity.
  • DSDP allows the CFIA to track and characterize risk more than ever before and this funding will be used to extend its reach to a minimum of 40,000 previously unregistered clients in the food sector while expanding services to the plant and animal sectors.
  • MyCFIA, the public-facing portion of DSDP, where CFIA client service and transactions such as licenses, registrations and permits take place, allows for convenient, secure, and 24/7 requests for users. Funding will allow CFIA to update MyCFIA to be more user-friendly for regulated parties. New tools along with people-centric design will be applied to help business better understand and comply with regulations. 
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