In Part I, this column explained that the
extension of Administrative Monetary Penalties or AMPs
(essentially a ticketing system) to the Meat Inspection Act and
Regulations (MIA) was a significant development in Canadian
food law. Whether it would prove to be a positive development for
the meat industry or another unnecessary regulatory burden
depends, like most public policy initiatives, on how well the
change is implemented.
Fortunately, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has
formally recognized in its Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement
that this major new compliance tool cannot be introduced until a
detailed implementation strategy is developed in close co-operation
It is also to the Agency's credit that before taking the
step to extend AMPs, it commissioned a thorough evaluation of how
well it has worked over the past decade when it applied only to
plant and animal health legislation. It makes interesting
reading. The evaluation concluded that AMPS "have not lived up
to expectations in terms of speed, cost and likely deterrence
effect." It found in particular considerable evidence of
inconsistency in its application. The evaluation noted that even
under the old limited mandate there was a serious lack of training
of investigators and inspectors and when one region (Ontario)
spent considerable resources to train 50 inspectors only five ever
used it. The evaluation makes it clear that before AMPs is expanded
to any other acts, and especially to legislation as sweeping as the
MIA, the Agency will have to make a number of operational
improvements. Is it any wonder that the meat industry is
The evaluation noted that for an AMPs system to work well and
consistently, legal requirements and industry performance standards
need to be clearly spelled out. There is a contradiction here that
the evaluation does not address. For years the CFIA has said that
it wants to move to a situation in which the rules would be more
"outcomes-based" and less prescriptive. It's not
clear how the CFIA can move in both directions at the same time.
This is especially problematic for the meat sector as the MIA is
very prescriptive and of the 84 rules to which AMPs would apply, 77
are considered by the CFIA to be "serious or very
Depending on how the CFIA uses AMPs for the MIA, it's likely
to have a significant impact on the Canada Agricultural Review
Tribunal (CART). All Notices of Violation and ministers'
decisions involving AMPS can be reviewed by this little known
quasi-judicial tribunal. Using oral and written proceedings, in
2011/2012 it considered 26 applications for review, overturning
eight decisions. In 2012/2013 CART issued 30 rulings, overturning
14 decisions on review. CART chairman Don Buckingham sees the
extension of his jurisdiction to MIA as a "natural fit."
CART has done an excellent job of formalizing and
standardizing its procedures and processes and by most
accounts provides a fairly cost effective arm's length review.
With only one full-time and one part-time member, the extension of
AMPs will necessitate new resources for CART if it's to avoid
the current criticism that it takes too long to set hearings and
render decisions. It already bills itself as "the little
Tribunal that could."
For the successful expansion of AMPs to the MIA it is clear that
the CFIA has to develop with industry a comprehensive
implementation strategy that includes, among other things, a
thorough training program. Given its potential implications,
it would be prudent to roll out the extension as a pilot in one of
the regions before imposing it nationally. And a well-functioning
and speedy review process could help ensure that AMPs is applied
fairly. Implemented well, this extension of AMPs to MIA could prove
to be an important tool that enhances compliance and avoids the
disproportionate use of other heavier enforcement powers such
as criminal prosecution, product seizure and license suspension or
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