Moving the CFIA's change agenda forward

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is a risk-based organization and our risks are changing... so we need to change with them.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is strongly committed to its mission to safeguard food, animals and plants to enhance the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy.

The existing control system has served us well, but it was developed in another time, when most of what was bought and sold originated in Canada, food was less processed and supply chains were simple.

The risks to food, animal health and plants have changed considerably in recent years and continue to change rapidly. At the same time, Canadian industry has to be more efficient and innovative to compete in a global economy.

It is in this context that the CFIA began to fundamentally change the way we manage risk, support industry's ability to compete globally, and embrace technology to provide more efficient and responsive service.

Building on the considerable work done to date, the Agency is renewing its commitment to ambitious priorities which will be implemented through specific projects and through the normal evolution of our day-to-day work.

Rapid Pace of Change

Technological advancements

Rapid and dramatic increases in the speed, volume and complexity of production have introduced new risks and hazards, and forced industries and regulators to rethink conventional approaches to prevention and oversight.

Today's highly efficient mass distribution and supply networks mean that problems can quickly become widespread.

At the same time, technological advances are creating tremendous opportunity for Canadian industry. Our highly skilled and technologically savvy workforce offers a potential competitive advantage in a global marketplace that is hungry for innovative products and processes.

Emerging science, sophisticated new technologies and more integrated surveillance information have enormous potential to improve our ability to assess, prevent and detect risks.

Finally, the CFIA's stakeholders and consumers exist in a digital world and increasingly expect service through multiple channels - paper-based systems are justifiably seen as inefficient.

Global trade of food, plants and animals

The global marketplace and consumer demand for new and exotic food and plants has significantly increased the amount of imported product into Canada – 70% of processed food and fresh fruits and vegetables, for example, are now imported.

Dynamic international supply chains have exponentially increased sourcing of individual components from more places across the world. Consolidation in the food and agricultural industries add further complexity for regulatory oversight.

Human, animal and plant ecosystem issues are increasingly intertwined as the movement of people, plants, animals and food heightens the risk of transmitting pests and diseases. Climate change is likely to exacerbate already difficult risks to manage. Increases in animal health diseases, such as Avian Influenza, require significant CFIA resources to respond, while plant pests, such as Emerald Ash Borer, can become almost impossible to eradicate once naturalized in our ecosystem.

The opportunities provided by globalization depend heavily on the ability of exporters to maintain existing markets, and to gain access to new markets. More than ever, exporters rely on governments to bring consistency, best practices and fairness to international trade.

Responding to the Changes: Our Strategic Priorities

To maximize its capacity to respond to risk in today's world, and in the years to come, the CFIA must continuously improve and adapt its business model in a number of areas.

The CFIA must:

  • have a modern regulatory toolkit to protect food, plant and animals against emerging risks, while supporting industry to innovate and compete internationally;
  • use an integrated risk management approach to allocate resources, using the best possible science, foresight and risk intelligence;
  • conduct consistent and efficient inspections while being flexible and nimble to respond to risks;
  • embrace technology, moving toward digital-first tools and services for businesses and consumers to get the information and service they need; and
  • be a global leader to influence international standards to improve safety and environmental outcomes and support market access for Canadian products.

To make these priorities a reality, the CFIA will:

  • engage our employees as we move forward to ensure our talented and committed staff have a strong voice and are ready for the changes; and
  • engage our partners - industry, provincial and territorial governments, academia and consumers - who play key roles in our national food, plant and animal control systems.

What does this mean moving forward?

The CFIA is moving in this direction for all its business lines. It started with food, but changes are taking place for plant and animal health as well.

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