“Everyone at the Table” – Why a National Food Policy in Canada matters to us

Canada has a new road map for a more sustainable food system with the passing of A Food Policy for Canada  on June 17th. The national policy’s broad vision sets out to ensure all Canadians have access to enough safe, nutritious and culturally diverse food, and that our food system is resilient and innovative to sustain the environment and support the economy.

The Government received feedback from 45,000 Canadians during its pulic consultations and summarized its recommendations for further comments.   The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force submitted our comments on the policy – Canadian Food Policy PTF Response_30 Aug 2017.

The Budget 2019 included a funding line for food policy that allocated $134 million dollars for specific initiatives, as well as announcing federal leadership towards a National Healthy School Food Programme.

The policy builds and is inter-related with other Federal initiatives like the Heathy Eating StrategyCanada’s Food Guide, and the Poverty Reduction Strategy, as well as work on food fraudfood labelling, and food loss and waste, among others.

Our Bruce Grey Food Charter reflects many of the same principles that are endorsed in the policy.

What is the policy?

The Food Policy for Canada will allow for improvements within our community. This policy will ensure that all people in Canada are able to access a sufficient amount of safe, nutritious and culturally diverse food. Canada’s food system will be resilient and innovative, sustain our environment, and support our economy. In Canada, our food is held to a high standard, and we know that these improvements will help in many ways.

The Food Policy for Canada will establish 4 areas for near-term action, including: 1) Help Canadian Communities Access Healthy Food; 2) Make Canadian Food the Top Choice at Home and Abroad; 3) Support Food Security in Northern and Indigenous Communities; and 4) Reduce Food Waste.

  • Investments – 134 Million under Federal Budget 2019:
    • Local Food Infrastructure Fund, $50 million – To support a wide range of community-led projects (eg., greenhouses, community freezers) that aim to improve access to safe, healthy, and culturally diverse food.
    • Northern Isolated Community Initiatives Fund, $15 million.
    • Buy Canadian Promotion Campaign, $25 million – To promote Canadian agricultural products thanks to a new Canada Brand, and through online and in-store Buy Canadian marketing campaigns.
    • Reducing Food Waste, $26.3 million – Working with experts to develop a challenge to fund the most innovative food waste reduction proposals in food processing, grocery retail, and food service.
    • Tackling Food Fraud, $24.4 million – To aid CFIA in cracking down on mislabeling and misrepresentation of food products.
    • Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council – An advisory council to the government will be formed with diverse expertise and perspectives to address the complex issues of the food system through collaborative action.
    • National School Food Program – Join with the provinces and not-for-profit organizations to address the issue of child hunger at school.

How will the policy impact us as a rural community?

With 1 in 5 children in Grey and Bruce Counties in poverty, it is clear that we need to find affordable and healthy food to fuel our children. It is hard for children to be successful if they are focusing on how hungry they are. The National Food School Program is a key part of this new policy, and kids in this area could greatly benefit from this. Food bank usage is increasing across the 22 Food Banks that serve our communities in Grey County and Bruce County.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture advocates for an economically sound and sustainable agri-food industry as a pre-requisite for delivering on food security.  Their analysis  provides more details on implications for sustainable practices for our local Grey Bruce agriculture production.  The policy will help our smaller, agriculture-based communities thrive.

 

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10 Engaging People with Lived/Living Experience

 

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force Coordinator Jill Umbach joined Tamarack Institute’s 10 Lived/Living Experience Advisory Committee in 2018 as part of the Vibrant Communities‘ multi-sectoral poverty reduction work.  Since 2013, members of our Community Voices have been working with the Poverty Task Force as an advisory committee made up of people with “grounded expertise”.  People with grounded expertise deeply understand the realities of poverty in Bruce and Grey Counties. Their stories and experiences serve as powerful tools for building compassion and for disrupting and clarifying a community’s understanding of its roots causes and scope.

Group of people reflecting people with lived experience being engaged.

Informed by the 10 Lived/Living Experience Advisory Committee and interviews with our Community Voices a Guide has been written to support poverty-reduction groups to meaningfully engage people with lived/living experience. It celebrates the potential that can be unlocked when these individuals are included and empowered to drive anti-poverty work.

10 – Engaging People with Lived/Living Experience includes:

  • 10 really good ideas for engaging people with lived/living experience;
  • 10 stories that inspire (including #10 story of our Community Voices)
  • 10 useful resources;
  • 10 ways to get started.

The Guide highlights leading practices, inspires new thinking, and serves as a reminder of how critical engagement of people with lived/living experience in poverty reduction truly is.

Take Your Learning Further (links to resources from Section 4):

   1.  Social Inclusion Policy: Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

   2.  A Guide to Creating a Culture of Inclusion: Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership

   3.  Toronto Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG): Application Form

   4.  A Case Study in Authentic Engagement: Poverty Solutions Halifax

   5.  First Voice Protocol: EndPovertyEdmonton

   6.  Creating Community: Hastings Prince Edward Poverty Roundtable

   7.  Lived Experience as Expertise: Regional Municipality of Waterloo

   8.  Nothing About Us Without Us: Lived Experience Advisory Council

   9.  Lived Experience in Paid Staff Roles: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (recording available here)

  10. Rights-Based Participation and Accountability in Canada’s National Housing Strategy

Poverty Task Force invites Municipal Election Candidates and the public to test their knowledge about poverty in our community!

At the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force we listen to people in our communities with low income. In the lead up to this election, we asked people with low income what do you want for your families?

“It turns out they want what people of all economic levels want:  steady income, a home that is safe and affordable.” says Jill Umbach, Coordinator of the Poverty Task Force. “They want good health care and representatives in government that work together with them to improve their well-being.”

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force are asking Municipal Election Candidates and the public – do you know what poverty looks like in Bruce County and Grey County?

We invite municipal candidates and the public to take our Community Survey to test your knowledge!

  • Did you know … ensuring formal opportunities to recognize and consult with people with diverse lived experiences builds stronger communities?
  • Did you know … support for community food centres and events reduces social isolation, promotes local food, and food skills programs?
  • Did you know … prioritizing safe and affordable housing creates safe and healthy neighbourhoods?
  • Did you know … income security solutions that include adequate social assistance would strengthen our communities?

QUICK FACTS:

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force has created a series of infographics with the latest data on poverty in Bruce County and Grey County.  Each infographic comes with references to assist you to learn more! Don’t want to read – then you can watch our Community Voices’ videos.

Infographics:

Videos:

Our Rentsafe: Above Standard Housing Project features members of our Community Voices speaking out on poverty-related issues in Owen Sound in 3 videos.

LEARN MORE:

VOTER EDUCATION

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force identified barriers to voting for people with low income and discussed potential solutions/action. Key questions were raised by people:

  • Why should I vote? “My voice won’t have an impact.”
  • How do I vote if I don’t have an address or I.D.?
  • How do I vote online if I don’t have have a computer?
  • How do I know what the candidates are standing for?
  • How do I find transportation to a voting station?

Education is key! 

The 2018 Municipal Election and School Board election is Monday, October 22. For information about your local election, please visit your local municipality’s website. Each municipality has posted voter information:

Planning to vote in the upcoming municipal election?  Visit voterlookup.ca to make sure your name is on the Voters’ List or call 1-866-296-6722 to learn more.

In 2018, voters in 14 municipalities will be able to cast their vote online from anywhere they can access the internet or telephone – 24 hours a day in some  municipalities. There will be no paper or mail-in ballots.

The service provider, Dominion Voting, has created a video to show how to vote by internet. Most municipalities have detailed information pages on Internet and Telephone Voting .

Three (3) municipalities will use a Vote by Mail methodology.

The YMCA Housing is authorized to verify status for people who are homeless.

Contact your local muncipality for information on All Candidate Debates, Voter Information Sessions and Voter Help lines in your municipality.

Defining Adequate Housing

apartment architecture balcony building
Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

Housing is a basic need and is internationally recognized as a human right. Housing forms the foundation for our homes, neighbourhoods and communities.

Housing provides shelter, security, a space in which family life can happen and where children grow up and thrive. Yet, for many people, their housing jeopardizes their health and well-being.

The unfit conditions in housing, disproportionately experienced by people living in low income or other marginalizing circumstances negatively affect people’s physical and mental health. Multiple chronic diseases and acute effects, including asthma, respiratory conditions, allergies, chemical sensitivities, as well as cardiovascular disease and its numerous risk factors can be exacerbated or, in some cases caused, by poverty, stress, and living in unhealthy conditions.

Our Community Voices  are featured in a recent series of Rentsafe videos:

Defining Adequate 

My Voice is Power

Stigma in the System

Towards Healthy Homes for All: RentSafe Summary and Recommendations April 2018, summarizes the research over the past 3 years and offers recommendations for action to improve intersectoral action and capacity to ensure healthy housing conditions