Federal government must protect workers following export ban

June 28, 2019

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to ensure Canadian workers are protected from job and income loss following China’s recent ban on Canadian beef and pork exports.

The ban was imposed after Chinese customs inspectors detected a prohibited feed additive in a batch of pork shipments labelled as Canadian. The Canada Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the certificates were fraudulent and an investigation is currently underway.

“The Canadian meat industry is one of Canada’s core economic sectors, employing hundreds of thousands of workers across the country. The ban will affect not only those workers directly employed in the industry, but will be felt all along the value chain by workers in supporting industries,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

In the first four months of 2019, beef and veal exports to China accounted for 6.1 per cent of Canada’s total, an increase of 344 per cent year over year. Pork exports to China accounted for 22.7 per cent of the total, an increase of 80 per cent. China was the fifth-largest destination for Canadian beef and veal and the third-largest destination for Canadian pork.

“We urge the federal government and the CFIA to work closely with the Chinese government to address their concerns around the meat export supervision system and to bring the matter to a swift resolution,” said Yussuff.

Canada’s unions are also calling on the government to introduce a robust and sustainable mechanism to protect workers in industries affected by global trade volatility. The ban on Canada’s meat exports comes on the heels of stricter inspections at Chinese ports and selective bans on farm exporters, which have seen canola, pea and soybean exports to China plummet.

“In this context of increasingly unpredictable trade tensions, workers need to feel confident that their livelihoods are protected. Moving forward, the government must work with the labour movement to establish a concrete plan for safeguarding jobs and incomes in Canada’s export industries,” Yussuff added.

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