All Canadians deserve access to affordable nutritious food: NDP

As the Conservatives have failed to ensure that Northerners have secure access to nutritious and affordable food; NDP MPs are again taking concrete action to fix the Nutrition North Program and calling Conservatives to act immediately to include the 50 plus communities in Nutrition North.


As part of their Respect the North Campaign, NDP MPs Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic), Romeo Saganash (Abitibi--Baie-James--Nunavik—Eeyou), Niki Ashton (Churchill), Charlie Angus (Timmins--James Bay), Carol Hughes (Algoma--Manitoulin—Kapuskasing) and Jonathan Genest-Jourdain (Manicouagan) held a press conference today to announce a list of nearly 50 communities that must be included in the Nutrition North program. New Democrats are calling for immediate action to include the communities in the program.


The eligibility criteria for inclusion in the Nutrition North program are unclear; some communities such as Chisasibi, Radisson and Wemidji are excluded from the program and yet are still experiencing high costs of living. Last fall, Val-d’or reiterated the crucial role that Canada Post plays in the community, and yet the Food Mail Program was scrapped by the Conservative government following an unpublished review. This decision has impacted the community economically and has also eliminated the subsidy applied to essential non-food items like diapers and household supplies. Any future changes to this program must return Val-d’Or to its position as a distribution hub.


“People are going hungry.  Community based solutions exist; we need to start listening to what people with personal experience are telling us. For example, the Cree Health Board has recently published a report that explores the issue of access to nutritious foods with store managers in order to identify solutions,” said Intergovernmental Aboriginal Affairs critic Romeo Saganash. “We should be using knowledge like this to develop a sustainable and effective approach to support Northern food sovereignty: everyone should have access to good quality, adequate, affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate food.”


The NDP proposal includes a motion that would incorporate 50 communities that the Auditor General identified as currently not eligible for a full subsidy under Nutrition North guidelines; initiate a comprehensive review of the program with Northerners as full partners; create equitable program eligibility criteria for Northern communities based on their real circumstances; and work with all Northerners to develop a sustainable solution to food insecurity.