Canada's Auditor General Puts Focus on Food, Rail Safety

New Democrat MP Malcolm Allen said the gaps identified by the auditor general are "an indictment" of the federal government's overall mismanagement.

Canada's Auditor General Michael Ferguson gave his annual fall report this week and in it he raised the focus on food safety, border security, emergency plans in First Nations communities living on reserves and rail safety. Ferguson said that even in times when the federal government identified a problem, it took too long to come up with and implement solutions. 

"The resulting delays can have significant impact on Canadians both directly and indirectly," Ferguson said on Tuesday after he tabled his report in the Commons.

The auditor general found, for instance, that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency did recall unsafe food products in a timely fashion, but the recall system fell apart once a major food recall was announced.

"While illnesses were contained in the recalls we examined, I am not confident that the system will always yield similar results," Ferguson said.

The CFIA did not adequately manage the food recall system between 2010 and 2012 said Ferguson, who found that the agency did not have the documentation necessary to determine whether recalled food products had been disposed of, nor did it have the information necessary to identify and correct the cause of the recall in a timely way.

The auditor general was also concerned with "significant weaknesses" found in Transport Canada's oversight of rail safety.

Transport Canada completed only one in four of its planned audits of federal railways over a three-year period, due in part to a lack of inspectors, the audit report found. While Transport Canada made progress in addressing many of the recommendations from the Railway Safety Act review, the audit report found that a number of long-standing and important safety issues remain. To read more, click HERE.