Evaluation of the CFIA's Food Safety Program Modernization - Part 1
2.0 The Food Safety Program
The CFIA is a science-based regulatory agency guided by the following strategic outcome: "A safe and accessible food supply and plant and animal resource base" (CFIA, 2014a, p. 6). The FSP is one of three main programs contributing to this strategic outcome. The other two programs are the Animal Health and Zoonotics Program and the Plant Resources Program.
These three main programs are supported by two others found under the Agency's Program Alignment Architecture (PAA):
- International collaborations and technical agreements
- Internal services
Within the FSP, there are a number of commodity-based sub-programs. These include:
- meat and poultry
- fish and seafood
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- processed products
- imported and manufactured food products (CFIA, 2014a, p. 6)
Figure 1 presents the Agency's PAA.
The FSP is an established, long-standing program at the CFIA. Its objectives are to "mitigate risks to public health associated with diseases and other health hazards in the food supply system and to manage food safety emergencies and incidents" (CFIA, 2014a, p. 21).
FSP aims to achieve these objectives by:
- ensuring awareness of, and verifying industry compliance with, the relevant regulations and standards;
- responding to food safety emergency situations;
- undertaking food-safety related public awareness and engagement activities;
- ensuring that consumers have access to safe food and nutritional information;
- preventing instances of unfair food market practices; and
- supporting Agency participation in international organizations and collaborations involving food safety (CFIA, 2014a, p. 21).
Figure 2 presents the FSP logic modelFootnote 3. The model demonstrates how groups of activities under the FSP are meant to influence the Agency's strategic outcome.
Like the other CFIA programs, the FSP faces a number of risks to its effectiveness and its ability to support the Agency's strategic outcome. This includes risks related to:
- Information management and IM/IT infrastructure - the program's ability to make risk-based decisions due to a lack of timely, accurate, and useful data and information.
- Inspection effectiveness - the program's ability to expeditiously prevent, detect, and respond to food safety threats.
- Scientific capability - the program's ability to use scientific capability to adapt and respond in a timely manner.
- Legislative, regulatory and program framework - the current legislative, regulatory and program framework's ability to support the effective delivery of the Agency's mandate.
- Managing change - the program's ability to effectively manage change on an ongoing basis. Change including modernization, staffing and etc.
- Transparency and leveraging relationships - the Agency's ability to capitalize on the opportunity to increase transparency and accountability to stakeholders.
- Emergency management - the program's ability to respond to multiple simultaneous or large-scale emergencies (CFIA, 2014a, pp. 9-12).
The FSP targets a number of stakeholders, including:
- other federal government departments and agencies
- provincial and territorial governments
- international organizations
- other countries (CFIA, 2014b, pp. 28-29)
The CFIA regularly interacts with these groups, ensuring their perspectives are considered in the development of FSP policies and strategies (CFIA, 2014b, pp. 28-29).
The FSP uses a considerable portion of the Agency's annual resources. As Table 1 indicates, between fiscal years 2011-12 and 2014-15, the FSP accounted for between 45 and 50 per cent of the Agency's overall expenditures.
|FSP overall expenditures||$328,935,486||$353,600,998||$364,310,525||$421,520,442|
|CFIA total overall expenditures||$737,696,357||$782,055,725||$805,751,653||$848,492,889|
|% FSP of CFIA overall expenditures||44.6%||45.2%||45.2%||49.7%|
Source: (Government of Canada, 2014, 2016)
As Table 2 demonstrates, between fiscal years 2011-12 and 2014-15, approximately half of all Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) at the CFIA were dedicated to the FSP. During this time period, there was an increase in FSP staffing relative to other programming.
|CFIA total FTEs||6,623||6,446||6,378||6,138|
|% FSP of CFIA FTEs||48.9%||49.9%||51.7%||52.9%|
Source: (Government of Canada, 2013a, 2013b, 2014)
2.5 Supporting change at the CFIA
For more than a decade, the CFIA has recognized the need for change. Changes to Agency operations have been, and continue to be, meant to modernize its servicesfood safety, and are driven by:
- outdated food safety legislation and regulations;
- an increased need for the Agency to oversee a larger number of sectors;
- new varieties of food products demanded in Canada;
- new technologies in food production;
- increased consumer expectations for food safety information; and
- new approaches to food safety in jurisdictions outside of Canada (Crawford, 2015, p. 6).
The need for change is also emphasized in the CFIA's Long Term Strategic Plan. The plan notes the Agency must incorporate the following across all programming:
- "[an] increased focus on prevention;
- [a] strengthen[ed] citizen-centred service delivery culture;
- optimize[d] performance; [and]
- diverse talent supported by modern tools" (CFIA, 2013, p. 6).
The CFIA is also focussed on ensuring change activities align with the Government of Canada's Blueprint 2020 vision, which attempts to develop:
- "an open and networked environment that engages citizens and partners for the public good;
- a whole-of-government approach that enhances service delivery and value for money;
- a modern workplace that makes smart use of new technologies to improve networking; access to data and customer service; and
- a capable, confident and high-performing workforce" (CFIA, 2013, p. 10).
The Royal Assent of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) on November 20, 2012, and the regulations to be made thereunder (the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations,) provide the basis for significant change in the food safety environment (CFIA & SFCA, 2012).
The SFCA directly addresses the need for updated legislation and regulations and will, upon fully coming into force, repeal and replace four existing Acts: the Fish Inspection Act, the Meat Inspection Act, the Canadian Agriculture Products Act, and the food related provisions of Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.
The Act and forthcoming regulations will provide better management of food safety risks, more consistent inspection across all food commodities, greater clarification on established industry requirements, and improved consumer protection. They will also allow the Agency to focus more on prevention (CFIA & SFCA, 2012; Crawford, 2015).
2.6 The Food Safety Modernization Initiative (FSMI)
Following the release of Report of the Independent Investigator into the 2008 Listeriosis Outbreak (the Weatherill Report) in 2009, the Government of Canada committed funds in Budget 2011 to modernize Canada's food safety system (Government of Canada, 2011). As a result, the CFIA developed the FSMI.
The FSMI can be broken down into three main elements:
- inspection system modernization
- enhanced science capacity
- improved information management/information technology (IM/IT)
These three elements can be further broken down into eight distinct projects (sub-initiatives), which collectively support FSP modernization.
Table 3: FSMI Project Descriptions
|Improved Food Inspection Model (IFIM) Table Note 4||Development of a single approach to food inspection that is consistent in its approaches to food safety risks and non-compliance issues. Inspection across all food commodities will be standardized so that one inspector can perform all necessary activities at a particular establishment.|
|Verifying Industry Compliance with Health Canada's Revised Listeria Policy Table Note 5||Enhancement of inspection and testing activities, as well as analytical laboratory capacity, to improve Listeria controls in all high-risk ready-to-eat foods. This will result in earlier identification of contamination in the food processing environment, leading to fewer product recalls and fewer high-risk products on the market.|
|Electronic Services Delivery Platform (ESDP)||Creation of a modern, web-based portal that will make the Agency's programs and services accessible electronically to stakeholders. For example, the portal will provide easier access to CFIA regulations, standards, and inspection procedures. It will include an export requirements management tool, allowing export certification information to be electronically exchanged with foreign governments. This will help to facilitate the approval of Canadian commodities before they are shipped to other countries, and will support common domestic business functions at the Agency.|
|Recruitment and Training of Inspectors||Creation of a national approach to inspector recruitment and training that will provide more consistency across all program areas and the Agency's 14 commodity groups. The new approach to recruitment and training is also intended to ensure that inspectors have the skills needed for the Agency's evolving work.|
- Table Note 4
This project is now referred to as the Integrated Agency Inspection Model (iAIM)
- Table Note 5
This project was not examined during the FSP Evaluation Part 1. Listeria was examined under the CFIA's Evaluation of Meat Programs (2016).
|Developing a Laboratory Network Strategy (CFSIN) Table Note 6||Development of a strategy for an integrated food laboratory network. This network will increase the ability of Canada's laboratories to detect and respond to food safety risks and hazards and share the information across food safety authorities.|
|Modernizing Equipment and Laboratories (MEL)||To respond more efficiently to food-borne illnesses and outbreaks, the addition of modern equipment will help laboratories conduct more sensitive and rapid testing. Renovation to two laboratories - one in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, and another in Scarborough, Ontario - will allow for more effective use of laboratory space for testing and analysis.|
|Enhancing Laboratory Response Capacity (ELRC)||To help achieve earlier detection and faster response to food safety risks and hazards, the number of highly-skilled scientists working in CFIA laboratories will be increased, and new food safety testing methods to more quickly and accurately identify pathogens will be developed. The new personnel will work with international standard-setting organizations to validate new testing methods and maintain proficiency testing and laboratory quality assurance.|
- Table Note 6
The network developed under this project is now referred to as the Canadian Food Safety Information Network (CFSIN).
|Increased Efficiency through Improved IM/IT||This initiative will provide the Agency's staff with up-to-date information, management capabilities, and tools. This involves ensuring that these tools will support the IFIM being developed through the FSMI. Information will be available at the point of inspection and in remote areas, enabling Agency staff to make proactive and risk-based decisions.|
Figure 3 presents the FSMI logic model. Developed for the FSP Evaluation - Part 1, the logic model shows project linkages to the collective outcomes of the FSMI. The FSMI logic model is colour-coded to identify:
- the elements of the FSMI being reviewed during the current evaluation (green)
- those that are related to these elements but not examined directly during the evaluation (blue)
- the intended outcomes of the projects, both individually and collectively (yellow)
To the extent possible, the logic model is organized according to the elements noted in Table 3 above. The largest exception involves improved IM/IT. The outcome under this element supports the achievement of outcomes for all other FSMI elements and their associated projects.
2.7 FSMI resources
A total of $139.8 million was allocated to the FSMI for fiscal year 2011-12 to fiscal year 2015-16. This includes $40 million that was reallocated from existing CFIA resources. Details on the CFIA internal reallocation are provided in Appendix C.
From the total of $139.8 million, $22.6 million was allocated to verifying industry compliance with Health Canada's Revised Listeria Policy. The Listeria project is not considered in the evaluation. In addition, $3 million was allocated to Health Canada as part of the initiative.
In summary, minus these allocations, the CFIA's portion of FSMI funding was $114.2 million.
Table 4 shows how the $114.2 million was distributed across the seven remaining projects in each of the five fiscal years from 2011-12 to 2015-16. The evaluation focussed on the funding and associated activities undertaken during fiscal years 2011-12 to 2014-15.
|Inspection System Modernization|
|Improved food inspection model (IFIM)||$3.0||$5.9||$10.3||$12.4||$5.6||$37.2|
|Electronic services delivery platform (ESDP)||$1.0||$3.1||$6.5||$6.4||$5.5||$22.5|
|Recruitment and training of inspectors||$0.6||$2.4||$5.1||$4.9||$4.9||$17.9|
|Enhanced Science Capacity|
|Developing a laboratory network strategy||$0.2||$1.1||$1.2||-||-||$2.5|
|Modernizing equipment and laboratories||-||$0.5||$2.2||$3.8||$5.4||$11.9|
|Enhancing laboratory response capacity||$0.7||$0.8||$1.3||$1.3||$1.3||$5.4|
|Increased efficiency through improved IM/IT||-||$3.8||$4.8||$4.1||$4.1||$16.8|
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