Premier says help on the way for Alberta beef producers
Alison Redford says program will help ranchers affected by recent E. coli contamination at southern Alberta plant
Alberta Premier Alison Redford says a government program to help beef producers should be enough to get them through the temporary shutdown of the XL Foods plant in Brooks.
Redford says the government is now helping producers.
"There's legislation in place in Alberta that creates an insurance fund already that producers pay into," Redford said.
"My understanding, and I've been advised by our minister of agriculture, that fund is fully funded and is supporting producers to the extent that they have been impacted so from our perspective, that has worked well and that's what the role of the provincial government should be."
The premier also said she’s going to make sure Canadians know beef is safe.
"The first thing I’m going to do is to continue the work that we've done with Alberta beef producers and to continue to talk as I did at the very beginning about the fact that this is a quality product that's entirely safe," Redford said.
"There was a particular circumstance in the past two weeks where a particular commercial entity made some decisions which impacted the quality of the processing of the product."
Redford is also rejecting calls for a public inquiry into what went wrong at the XL plant as she says the problems are being fixed.
Redford’s rejection to the inquiry is not sitting well with Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman.
"Redford is all too willing to pony up the cash to investigate queue jumping, but doesn’t think the biggest recall in history is worth a closer look," said Sherman. "Her priorities are dead wrong."
Sherman says an inquiry is especially important now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is conducting their own audit.
"Albertans deserve to know why action was only taken once the Americans blew the whistle, and why it was delayed," said Sherman.
"I want to know if there was some sort ‘shoot, shovel, and shut up’ interference being run."
Sherman also questions the working conditions and overall functioning of Canada’s regulatory system at similar facilities.
"If federal government is spending more on inspection services, why is the system failing us, and more importantly, what are we doing to fix it?" he asked.
"This has been a huge blow to the workers, the industry, and to the reputation of Canadian food suppliers both at home and abroad. I feel it could have been prevented with proper inspection and adequately addressing the concerns raised by workers. But, ultimately, we need the evidence to back that up."