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 Strategy, Canada’s Food Guide, and the Poverty Reduction Strategy, as well as work on food fraud, food 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.