Hon. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul’s, Lib.):
Canadians are bombarded with endless self-promoting government ads about a four-year-old program. What Canadians are not seeing is a trusted Public Health voice during the ongoing E. coli outbreak. Once bacteria has entered the food chain, it is clearly a Public Health issue.
Will the government redirect the millions of public dollars it is spending on self-promoting advertising to provide Canadians with the information they need to keep their families safe?
Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
Of course, Public Health was fully involved with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency from the early days of this outbreak. It continues to be engaged working with our provincial counterparts and giving information back through CFIA as well to the public. We have had a number of technical briefings that it has taken a fulsome part in and we continue to do that. I am not sure where the member has been.
Hon. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul’s, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
There are now concerns that it was a retailer’s steak tenderizing process responsible for four people getting sick from E. coli. Canadians continue to be confused and worried, but the government refuses to provide a trusted Public Health voice to speak to them directly with the facts.
Will the government accept that an E. coli outbreak is a health issue and allow the Public Health Agency to take the lead on this critical issue for Canadians?
Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC):
That is exactly what it has done. It was Alberta public health that first identified the needling process at the COSTCO that created this particular outbreak. It has since shut down the mechanization, the tenderizing of beef, and continue to do that. Alberta public health, working on its initiative in a provincially centred plant, certainly has done its job.