PEI

P.E.I. minister questions N.L. ferry inspection cuts

Agriculture Minister George Webster says he's seeking clarification from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about whether it plans to continue spraying down vehicles at the ferry terminals in Newfoundland.

CFIA confirms vehicle spraying at N.L. ferry terminal will end

CFIA has confirmed to CBC News that vehicle-cleaning at the Newfoundland ferry terminal will end. (CBC )

P.E.I.’s Agriculture Minister George Webster says he's seeking clarification from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about whether it plans to continue spraying down vehicles at the ferry terminals in Newfoundland.

Inspectors spray soil-contaminated vehicles to prevent the spread of nematodes.

Nematodes, or roundworms, can infest potato plants.

CFIA officials confirmed to CBC News Friday that the service would end, following the elimination of six CFIA jobs at the ferry terminal in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.

The union representing the workers has also been told the service won't be provided after April 1, 2014.

But Webster said he believes it's just a rumour.

He said he can't believe Ottawa would stop providing the service that helps prevent potato viruses or disease from being spread.

"Newfoundland does have a quarantinable pest, which is the potato cyst nematode I think. They have had it for 100 years, and that's why they have been disinfecting, the bottom washing I guess I'll call it, the vehicles as they leave Newfoundland," Webster said.

"But we have not had any official conversation with CFIA that they would ever withdraw this. I don't think they ever will, personally. You know it could be to the detriment of shipments elsewhere in Canada and the United States, so it makes no sense to do that."

He plans to ask his deputy minister to phone CFIA officials to find out what is happening, he said.

The PEI Potato Board has already expressed concerns about the elimination of the service.  

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