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St. Anthony mayor questions why food inspection office moved

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) office in St. Anthony is closed.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) office in St. Anthony is closed. - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

CFIA says new location in Port au Choix more central to majority of establishments being served

BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

THE NORTHERN PEN

ST. ANTHONY, N.L.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) office in St. Anthony is closed, with its former staff now based out of Port au Choix.

But questions are being raised as to how this decision was made.

St. Anthony Mayor Desmond McDonald, who also serves as president of the St. Anthony and Area Chamber of Commerce, felt it was important to have the agency in St. Anthony given the town’s status as an international port.

The town is the site where seafood is shipped out from all over western Newfoundland and southern Labrador to European markets.

“Everything that goes through St. Anthony Cold Storage is sent out through Eimskip (an Icelandic shipping company) and all that has to be inspected by that agency before it goes out,” McDonald explained.

He is concerned moving the office to Port au Choix will slow down the process and make it harder for groups like St. Anthony Cold Storage to do business.

“Is it going to be a deterrent for people coming into the area because there’s no CFIA officer?” he asked.

McDonald also expressed disappointment it was another government position eliminated from St. Anthony.

“I don’t know when enough is going to be enough, they just keep eliminating position after position,” he said.

The CFIA told The Northern Pen closure of the St. Anthony office had been planned for several years and was part of its efforts to streamline and improve efficiency in operations.

“(The Port au Choix) location is more central to the majority of establishments being served, reducing overall time travel for inspection staff,” it was stated via email. “The CFIA is committed to providing the same level of inspection services to the establishments previous serviced by the St. Anthony office.”

It did provide details on how it would provide the same level of inspection service.

The Northern Pen asked the CFIA how export certificates would be issued when the nearest office is 2.5 hours away in Port au Choix.

It responded that it had been working proactively with clients “to ensure timely and effective service delivery.”

“We will reach out to our clients in the area prior to their peak season for exporting to ensure that arrangements continue to meet their needs,” the statement continued. “The CFIA remains committed to the provision of service in order to fulfill its core mandate – the safeguarding of Canada’s food, animals and plants while supporting the growth of Canada’s agri-food and agricultural sector.”

The CFIA also has plans to move things online.

While the current process for requesting export certificates from CFIA officers through the country remains in effect for now, it says it is working with trading partners on a process for all export certificates to be requested and issued electronically.

McDonald questioned who would actually inspect the food once the process is moved online, but CFIA did not offer an explanation.

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca

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