Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Building a Canadian National Food Strategy: What's Next?

Although a nation-wide food strategy has been a major strategic goal of food security and community nutrition organisations over several election cycles, the citizens of Canada have yet to see such a plan come to fruition. This despite the fact that a national food strategy formed a plank of the 2011 Conservative party platform (a promise which was confirmed by past Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a meeting with his provincial counterparts that same year). At that time, the intention was for a comprehensive policy to be developed and released by April of 2013.

During the 42nd federal election campaign, Food Secure Canada released a questionnaire to assess the national strategy plans of all five major political parties. The Liberals, NDP, Greens and BQ responded, while the Tories abstained. Based on the responses given by the Grits, here is what we might expect from the incoming government:

  • Support and supply of funding for a national food security strategy
  • Cooperation with not-for-profit and other non-government organisations to develop and deliver food security programs, including information sharing between government and advocacy groups
  • Devotion of an unspecified percentage of program funding towards experimentation, evaluation and innovation, but no commitment to a livable income as a method of guaranteeing food security
  • Focus on a food sovereignty approach to reducing insecurity in Northern Canada (local/sustainable)
  • Expansion of the Nutrition North Canada (NNC) subsidy to additional communities; increased oversight and accountability (worth $40M over 4 years)
  • No commitment to a Healthy School Food Program (est. at $1B over 5 years)
  • Increased funding for provincial and territorial skills training programs, with no specified amount to go towards agricultural careers
  • Assessment of farm income-safety nets
You can read the detailed answers from each party to the survey questions here on FSC's website: 4 Parties are in Favour of a National Food Policy.

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