OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 01/28/13 -- OPEN LETTER FROM WAYNE HANLEY, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, UFCW CANADA (UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS) TO THE HON. GERRY RITZ, M.P., MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD:
January 28, 2013
The Harper government's proposed changes to weaken Canadian food packaging regulations is a recipe that could kill thousands of good food processing jobs in Canada, and add injury to a vital sector of the economy that has already suffered 80 plant closures and more than 13,000 lost jobs over the past five years.
The proposal to drop the sensible requirement that certain processed foods marketed in Canada be sold in standard weights and volumes will do nothing to make Canadian food processors more productive. It will only make them more vulnerable to closure, as Canada's market is flooded by foreign food processors who will not have to meet regulations that now allow consumers to easily compare prices on uniformly packaged products.
The threat to the Canadian food processing industry is also a threat to the Canadian agriculture sector, which currently sells more than a third of its harvest to domestic processors. If Canadian plants are shut because of a flood of imports, it will be a devastating and permanent blow to farm communities across the country.
With more than 300,000 direct jobs at stake and dozens of Canadian communities directly endangered by loss of sales to the processing industry, a decision to plough ahead with the changes in regulation could be devastating to food growers, food workers, and Canadian consumers who overwhelmingly would prefer to buy domestically produced foods.
The industry, the farmers, food workers and their unions are not opposed to progress, but what is being proposed will cause irreparable harm to Canada's food chain and economy, and as such should be withdrawn.
Wayne Hanley, National President
Agriculture Workers Alliance
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