Dr. Lina Johannson - The Frontlines of Food Safety

She grew up in the big city of Vancouver, but today Dr. Lina Johannson finds herself in coveralls inspecting cattle in Regina. And she loves it.

It was during her studies at the University of Saskatchewan that Lina fell in love with the province and the people and decided to stay. Around the same time, she also had her first experience at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency where she really got to like the idea of working on the ‘national herd level’, protecting all of the livestock in the country.

Her work involves working closely with livestock producers and testing their animals as they’re coming into and leaving Canada.

“Most livestock ends up in food supply at some point, so the work we do contributes to the safe food supply,” says Lina.

Her work also protects the Canadian economy, since agriculture plays such an enormous role.

“Some of the things we’re looking for include diseases like foot and mouth. Certainly if Canada got foot and mouth, the borders would be shut down and we wouldn’t be able to trade in a large number of animals and their products,” Lina says.

She loves her work, even on the hard days when she has to give bad news to the people who raise livestock, especially when it comes to imposing quarantines or livestock euthanasia. It's tough calls like those that make it so important that Lina’s work is done in the public sector and not the private sector.

“As a regulatory party, we have to be very impartial and unbiased when we make decisions,” she says. “If this work was done in the private sector then Canadians would not be guaranteed that the decision would be made properly.” There’s one thing that makes every day on the job easier, and that’s knowing her union has her back.

And as a PIPSC steward, Lina also supports her fellow members. 

“I have come to very much appreciate having a union to be part of just because of the way they support our work as members in what we do every day,” she says. “I know my rights as an employee and I’m able to exercise those rights with support.”

Although the one thing her union can’t always protect her from is that awkward moment when she has to explain what’s in the white coolers that sometimes show up at her office (hint: it’s boar semen to be inspected).

“The front desk staff, if they’re new, ask ‘What’s that?’ and we’re like – ‘I don’t think you want to know,” she says, laughing.