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e-3022 (Food and drink)

Initiated by Darlene Levecque from Ottawa, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Canada’s current food system, including how our food is produced, processed, procured, distributed, consumed, and disposed of, is not aligned with Canada Food Guide and the Food Policy for Canada, and is jeopardizing the health of millions of Canadians;
  • Unhealthy food, including known carcinogens, that both the Canada Food Guide and the World Health Organization warn against (like red and processed meat), are still being procured and served to Canadians in federal, provincial and municipal institutions (including hospitals, schools, and workplaces), and to vulnerable Canadians who might not know the risks;
  • The updated Canada Food Guide promotes a diet based primarily on plant-based food, and the Food Policy for Canada does not address or include these recommendations;
  • The federal government in 2019 allocated $134 million over five years to support the first ever Food Policy for Canada, with no specific funding for a National School Food Program, the commitment to help all Canadians access healthy food that aligns with the food guide is far from being reached; and
  • During a pandemic, when food security is top of Canadians’ minds, it is imperative that Canadians have access to an abundance of affordable and healthy plant-based food.
We, the undersigned, supporters of Nation Rising, call upon the Government of Canada to direct a minimum of $390 million over three years (2021-23) (10% of funding allocated to supply managed animal agriculture industries in 2019) to operationalize the Canada Food Guide and the Food Policy for Canada, including relevant funding to implement a National School Food Program, and overhaul Canada’s food system to a plant-based one.

Response by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, PC, MP

Thank you for your petition and engagement on the implementation of the Food Policy for Canada.  The Government of Canada is committed to realizing the vision of the Food Policy that “All people in Canada are able to access a sufficient amount of safe, nutritious, and culturally diverse food. Canada’s food system is resilient and innovative, sustains our environment, and supports our economy.”

The Food Policy for Canada is the product of consultation and collaboration with Canadians across the country. The Government of Canada heard from more than 45,000 Canadians, including agricultural producers and processors, experts in environment, health and food security, Indigenous groups, non-government organizations, and community advocates.

The Food Policy is structured as a whole-of-government approach to build greater coherence among policies, programs, and initiatives that impact or are impacted by food – including Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, with the vision to “Make the healthier choice the easier choice for all Canadians”. Health Canada was a key partner throughout the development of the Food Policy.

A priority outcome of the Food Policy is “improved food-related health outcomes” for Canadians and was supported with funding through the Local Food Infrastructure Fund and Northern Isolated Community Initiatives Fund.

The Local Food Infrastructure Fund is a five-year, $50-million initiative, which aims to improve access to safe, healthy, and diverse food while promoting community development, improving health outcomes for Canadians most at risk of food insecurity, and promoting environmentally sustainable food systems. The Fund provides investments in infrastructure directly related to improving food security and increasing the accessibility of healthy, nutritious, and local foods within communities.

The type of activities supported can range from simpler infrastructure requests, such as purchasing a refrigerator for a food bank, to more complex requests that strengthen local food systems. The first phase of  the Local Food Infrastructure Fund provided up to $25,000 for 362 projects for a total investment of $6.6 million. The second intake period under the program was launched on June 9, 2020, with funding available until March 31, 2024. To date, 487 applications have been received, and 223 projects have been approved, representing an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) funding amount of $14.4M.

The Northern Isolated Community Initiatives Fund, delivered by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, is a $15-million initiative to support projects for local and Indigenous food production systems, with an emphasis on innovative and practical solutions to increase food security across the territories. 

Food security is a key driver of health and wellness, and accessing high-quality, sustainable, and nutritious food remains a challenge for northern and Indigenous Peoples, particularly over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. To support Canadians facing food insecurity during the pandemic, the Government of Canada has: invested $200 million through the Emergency Food Security Fund to improve access to food; launched a first-ever $50-million Surplus Food Rescue Program designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories to local food organizations that are serving vulnerable Canadians, while avoiding food waste; and, invested an additional $140 million through Budget 2021 to top up the Emergency Food Security Fund and Local Food Infrastructure Fund.

The Government of Canada supports all agricultural sectors and is committed to ensuring that they remain strong and competitive for the future. Competitive agriculture sectors are vital to Canada’s prosperity. They create good jobs, grow the middle class, and bring high-quality products to the tables of Canadian consumers.

AAFC respects the production choices made by producers and works with them to support the growth and development of the entire agriculture and agri-food sector. Our policies, programs, research, and technology help all producers and processors succeed in Canadian and global markets. AAFC is also investing in science and innovation to develop solutions that will help the sector grow sustainably and create better opportunities for producers, businesses, and Canadians.

The Government is also committed to helping Canadians make informed decisions about the food they eat. This includes Canada’s Food Guide, which provides advice about nutritious foods that are the foundation for a healthy pattern of eating and foods that undermine healthy eating.

Open for signature
December 21, 2020, at 9:16 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 21, 2021, at 9:16 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches—East York)
May 6, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00922)
Government response tabled
June 21, 2021
Photo - Nathaniel Erskine-Smith
Beaches—East York
Liberal Caucus
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