OUR VIEW: Research lab should stay alive

We want to see North Saanich's Centre for Plant Health stay open for the sake of food safety

Today, May 16, a United Nations right-to-food expert leaves Canada after an 11 day visit to analyze what some watchdogs have called “a broken food system” within our country.

Food production and safety are undoubtedly pillars of a healthy lifestyle in Canada. It takes hard work to ensure we know where our food comes from, what’s in it and how it will affect our bodies.

Inspectors are the link that help the distribution of this information to consumers. They are responsible for making sure what’s on the label of our food is the same as what is contained in the food itself.

Sometimes, things go awry. Remember the contaminated spinach debacle of 2009? The listeriosis outbreak in processed meats of 2008?

The federal government plans to axe jobs at the Centre for Plant Health, located in North Saanich as part of a budget-cutting measure. The idea is to phase out the entire operation and consolidate operations at a lab in Summerland.

Our MP Elizabeth May doesn’t believe just 12 jobs will be affected, as stated by the feds. With contract and other positions factored in, it could be closer to 35.

We as consumers and residents of the Peninsula could lose in two ways. With 100 inspector jobs being cut nationwide, there are far fewer eyes watching what goes into our food.

We also worry about losing these skilled workers if these positions are eliminated. Greater Victoria is known as a hub for science and technology, which has economic benefits for the population.

Whether it’s 12 or 35 jobs going under the guillotine, we should be concerned about the decisions being made at the federal level which could negatively affect us locally.

Like the News Review, the Centre for Plant Health celebrates its 100th birthday this year. We’d rather see it celebrate another 100 than see the lights go out at our food research laboratory.

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