Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Meat Programs
1.3. CFIA Staff

This page is part of the Guidance Document Repository (GDR).

Looking for related documents?
Search for related documents in the Guidance Document Repository

1.3.1. Authority

Under section 13 of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act, the President has the authority to appoint employees, set the terms and conditions of employment and assign duties to them. The President may also designate any person or class of persons as inspectors, analysts, graders, veterinary inspectors or other officers for the enforcement or administration of any act or provision that the agency enforces or administers by virtue of section 11, in respect of any matter referred to in the designation.

The inspector on duty with an identification card has the authority for law enforcement relevant to Meat Programs. CFIA inspectors responsible to deliver the CFIA Meat Programs mandate, derive their regulatory powers from the various Acts that they enforce, such as:

  • the MIA;
  • the Health of Animals Act;
  • the Canada Agricultural Products Act;
  • the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act as it relates to food; and
  • the Food and Drugs Act as it relates to food.

Other legislation may also apply to certain federally registered establishments, depending on the type of operations found within the establishment.

1.3.1.1. Conflict Between CFIA Inspectors and Operators or Their Employees

Situations may arise that have the potential to lead to conflict between an inspector and an operator or a plant employee. It is essential that all parties make every effort to defuse these situations and prevent escalation into something more serious.

To minimize potential conflict situations, both inspectors and operators must be fully aware of their respective roles and responsibilities:

  • In performing their duties, CFIA staff must comply with the requirements of the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on Legal Assistance and Indemnification.
  • Operators have undertaken, at the time of licensing, the responsibility of maintaining and operating the registered establishment in accordance with the legislation. At the same time, with respect to subsections 13(2) and 14(1) of the MIA, operators are also responsible for the actions and conduct of their employees including compliance to specific instructions and activities under the authority of the CFIA inspector or official veterinarian provided in the MIA and MIR.

While differences of opinion can be positive as parties seek a means towards resolution, to prevent further escalation it is important that mutually agreed upon procedures for conflict resolution be established and adhered to, which includes contact persons at different levels for both parties.

In the event problems arise that do not fall into the category of potential conflict situations listed below, please contact the Regional Director for specific advice as to how to resolve a particular problem; or your Inspection Manager for more detailed information on those identified here.

1.3.1.1.1. Refusal to Carry Out a Legitimate Request

Normally, requests should be channelled through a foreman, but on occasion in emergency situations (food safety, etc.), they may have to be made directly to an employee.

  • Do not argue with an employee.
  • Go away and check your facts.
  • Notify the employee's supervisor.
  • If the refusal is upheld by the supervisor, check your facts again.
  • Inform your own supervisor or Inspection Manager who in turn will contact the operator.
  • If the refusal is upheld at this level, then the matter is to be referred to the Regional Director, who, if unable to resolve the problem, will issue instructions regarding any action to be taken.
  • In every instance, complete documentation of the incident must be prepared and kept on file under CFIA control, with a copy forwarded to the Regional Director.

1.3.1.1.2. Serious Verbal Abuse or Threats

  • Do not respond; keep calm and leave the scene.
  • Notify your supervisor or Inspection Manager, as appropriate, of all relevant facts and of any witnesses to the incident; complete a precise, written report as soon as possible.
  • The contacted supervisor or Inspection Manager is to meet with operator at the earliest opportunity, present the facts to the operator and request, in writing, that appropriate corrective measures will be taken and that recurrences will not be tolerated.
  • If the above written statement cannot be obtained, or if operator itself is involved, the matter is to be referred to the Regional Director, who will issue instructions regarding action to be taken, and will decide if the police should be involved.
  • In every instance, complete documentation of the incident must be prepared and kept on file under CFIA control, with a copy forwarded to the Regional Director.

1.3.1.1.3. Physical Assault

  • Never retaliate, except in self-defence.
  • Seek medical aid if required.
  • Report the incident to the supervisor and Inspection Manager as soon as possible.
  • The Inspection Manager should assess the situation by obtaining the fullest information possible. If it can be determined that the remainder of the CFIA inspection staff is at risk, the Inspection Manager should order their immediate withdrawal to the office. The inspection manager shall also inform the Regional Director of the incident and any action taken.
  • Document all relevant facts and the statements of witnesses as soon as possible.
  • Forward all related documents to the Regional Director.
  • The Regional Director, after having carefully reviewed all information with legal advice, is responsible for contacting operator and, if necessary, the police.
  • If it is found necessary to suspend CFIA inspection services and collect stamps, the CFIA inspection staff should remain in a safe place until advised to return by the Regional Director.

1.3.1.1.4. Damage to Government or Personal Property

All such incidents, together with any relevant information and names of witnesses, are to be reported immediately to the Inspection Manager, who, after consulting with the Regional Director, will decide upon the action to be taken.

1.3.1.1.5. Culpability

It is important to note that the procedures listed above all imply that the fault rests entirely with the operators or their employees. With respect to the MIA, including subsections 13(2) and 14(1), operators who fail to comply may be notified by an inspector of the existence of grounds for suspension of an operator's licence (see Chapter 14 of the MOP).

The above procedures will require modification if it becomes apparent that a CFIA inspector provoked an incident or was equally to blame for an escalation. In these instances, the CFIA may withdraw its support in the event of legal action and the CFIA inspector may be subject to disciplinary action.

1.3.1.2. Provision of CFIA Inspection Services During an Industrial Dispute Involving the Employees Working in a Federally Registered Establishment

The picketing of federally registered establishment premises by striking operator's employees during a legal strike is a legal activity. Its purpose is to advise other employees and clients of the employer that a labour dispute is in progress. Picket lines are also encountered in cases of lock-out.

When picket line activity commences at a worksite, inspectors should report such activity to their immediate supervisor and to the Inspection Manager. Remember, individual pickets may talk to CFIA inspectors in order to persuade them to respect their picket line. Remember, too, that when confronted with such picket line activity, inspectors should not provoke pickets or argue the merits of the situation. Their sole purpose is to report to work and to perform their normal duties, and this may require them to cross a picket line.

However, the CFIA inspector who encounters interference or harassment by pickets at a worksite of a sufficiently serious nature as to arouse concern for his or her personal safety should go to a nearby telephone and report the situation to his or her immediate supervisor or Inspection Manager, and await further instructions.

The Inspection Manager will meet with the operator, union officials and local law enforcement authorities to clearly define the role of the CFIA inspection staff and the necessity of access to the federally registered establishment to provide services.

Agreement should be reached by all parties in the dispute, whereby the following procedure is to be followed:

  • CFIA inspection staff will identify themselves to the strike captain and listen to the captain's request to respect the picket line.
  • CFIA inspection staff are to give a reply of neutrality and non-involvement and the necessity to cross the picket line to report for duty at their work station.
  • The Inspection Manager must be assured of the presence of a law enforcement officer at the picket site for the safety and security of inspection staff.

Until an agreement is reached, CFIA inspection services to the federally registered establishment should be suspended. In some very volatile situations, use of non-resident inspection staff using government cars may be necessary to protect normally assigned staff and defuse a potentially dangerous situation. In other situations, legal strikes at federally registered establishments may result in a suspension of operations, so that daily visits to the federally registered establishment by inspection staff may not be necessary.

1.3.2 Health and Security

CFIA staff working in federally registered establishments are protected under the Canadian Labour Code, Part II and Regulations of Health Canada. For more information contact your area Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Coordinator and the Occupational Health and Safety website.

Ergonomic studies are sometimes needed and incorporated in the appropriate sections of the MOP, as requirements to provide inspection services.

1.3.3. Training

The Human Resources Branch and Learning Division are responsible for professional and technical development and for issuing and updating the modules contained within the National Meat Hygiene Training Program.

The main objectives of the CFIA Learning Policy are to actively develop knowledge and competencies, encourage lifelong, continuous learning, promote and provide learning opportunities, and ensure training is managed strategically to support CFIA's business objectives.

The National Training Initiative (NTI) is initiated when an evaluation process has determined that a national training need exist due to a major modification to the Meat Program (e.g. new inspection programs, technologies, responsibilities and verification/reporting requirements). Training material is developed under the supervision of the national Meat Programs specialist and train-the-trainer sessions are provided to designated area trainers.

There are a number of commodity-specific inspection programs that require veterinarians and/or inspectors to be certified (e.g. Meat Imports, MPIP, HIP-Swine and HLIS-Beef). Protocols have been created for these programs according to the Guidelines for Creating Staff Certification Protocols.

At the area office level, managers are responsible for implementing the national new employee training program as per the requirements define in Volume 1 - Implementation Guide, professional development (in-house or outside) and updating skills required due to major program modifications. The National Meat Hygiene Training Program: Volume 1 - Implementation Guide is available through the URL indicated below.

Area-specific training sessions such as wet-labs and on-site sessions may be developed at the area office level by the Meat Programs specialist. Targeted "refresher" courses may be provided on-site, as required.

Consult the CFIA National Meat Hygiene Training Program for more information.

Date modified: