A Food Policy for Canada – Have Your Say!

Food Secure Canada (FSC) has prepared this short analysis to encourage thoughtful participation in the online survey towardsA Food Policy for Canada (link is external) led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). For a general background on national food policy, read our primer.

Canadians are invited to complete a short online survey(link is external), open until July 27, 2017, about the objectives that should guide Canada’s first National Food Policy (NFP). According to a high ranking government official, over 16,000 people have participated in the online consultations so far. This is an impressive and encouraging number of Canadians who care deeply about our food system!

Although the online survey is less open-ended than other recent government consultations, for example the Healthy Eating Strategy or the Poverty Reduction Strategy, FSC is encouraging its members and the wider food movement to participate.

The online survey is framed around the four themes of the government’s consultation:

• increasing access to affordable food;

• improving health and food safety;

• conserving our soil, water, and air; and

• growing more high-quality food.

The overall focus is on “how objectives should be prioritised for short-term action.” When you open the survey you will quickly see the structure which is based around ranking a series of listed objectives, within and between the four pillars. However this feels misaligned if you take a food-systems perspective.

The exercise can be frustrating for people who believe in a joined-up food policy — the very essence of which is to tackle health, environment and equity considerations together, not to trade one off against the other. It’s not a question of choosing between a priority for “Making nutritious food more available to all Canadians” or “Supporting the growth of local and regional food production,” instead it’s important how they can be both be addressed, potentially together.

A final optional section in the survey on Guiding Principles includes some systems thinking but, again, it’s all about ranking one approach as more important than another.

There is an opportunity at the end of each theme to suggest another objective, in 50 words or less, and there is one entirely open-ended concluding question, with a 250 word limit.

FSC’s Five Big Ideas for a Better Food System and From Patchwork to Policy Coherence: Principles and Priorities of Canada’s National Food Policy are good sources of ideas and inspiration for these questions. For example, why not write in the human right to food, making food a part of reconciliation, or seeding social innovation through adaptive policy?

FSC believes that every Canadian should be able to put healthy, affordable, sustainably grown food on their table. Make your voice heard before July 27, 2017.

In addition to the survey, consultations include a Food Summit hosted in Ottawa June 22-23, five or six regional events still to be announced, and potentially a number of community events, webinars and food movement briefings facilitated by FSC. Stay tuned for details.

Find the online survey here.


Growing Food & Education – getting more local food into our schools

Girl holding food tray in school cafeteria

PEI Food Security Network Panel Discussion and AGM

Thursday, May 18th,  2 – 5 pm
Prince Edward Island Farm Centre
University Ave, Charlottetown

With presenters who have a passion for getting healthy, local food on the plates of students:

Bev Campbell, Chef at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School
Sarah Bennetto O’Brien, PEI Handpie Company
Kyle Panton – Chef and Farmer
Kent MacDonald – Gordon Food Services

Panel presentations will be followed by a general discussion and a very short annual meeting.

Many Islanders are embracing “buy local” campaigns by going to farmers’ markets and participating in CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). At the same time there is interest in getting more locally-produced food on the menu in provincial institutions such as schools and healthcare facilities. Many communities and producers are responding with creative school food programs and initiatives to increase awareness of growing food as well as to improve local food access for children and their families. Given this growing interest in local procurement from producers, government and consumers, we invite the community to discuss the opportunities and challenges of providing local food products in Island schools.

Please join us for what is bound to be a lively discussion. Everyone welcome!

TransPacific Partnership Threatens Food Sovereignty

imagesAlthough the future of the TransPacific Partnership is not at all certain, given the result of the November 8 US election, activists in Canada and abroad continue to keep the pressure on governments, demanding that the deal be scrapped on the basis of its inclusion, among other things, of Investor State Dispute provisions, expansion of patent protection and impacts on dairy farmers.

The House of Commons International Trade Committee visited PEI in October and heard from Trade Justice PEI (of which the Food Security Network is a member), the National Farmers Union and the Environmental Coalition of PEI (both members of the PEI FSN).

The Food Security Network submitted its concerns in writing to the committee. Those concerns included:

  • Promotion of industrial agriculture and harmful environmental effects of potato monoculture
  • Interference with supply management and losses to dairy farmers
  • The effects on democracy and the environment of the Investor/State Dispute System

You can read the whole submission here: PEI FSN Submission – TPP 2016.

Food Banks Use on the Rise in 2016

15032055_1508968812454423_5198844240564184636_nAccording to the most recent report from Food Banks Canada – Hungercount 2016, the number of people in Prince Edward Island relying on food banks has risen again in 2016. Of the 3,370 people helped by Island food banks this year, over one third were under the age of 18. Over a third were employed or receiving EI benefits.

HungerCount is based on a survey taken of food banks, nation-wide, for one week during the year. It provides a snapshot of what is a huge and growing problem of food insecurity in Canada. It serves to remind us that we have yet to address this problem adequately – that as vital as food banks are in meeting the immediate needs of thousands of Canadians, they don’t touch the underlying reasons for household food insecurity.

The recommendations contained in the report should be taken seriously:

  • Develop a National Poverty Reduction Strategy by October 2017
  • Take Steps Towards a Basic Income Guarantee
  • A New Deal for People on Social Assistance
  • Investment in Food Security for Northern Canadians

On a local level, Premier MacLauchlan has stated publicly that he favours the idea of a Basic Income Guarantee – it’s time for his government to take action, and in collaboration with the federal government and community organizations, come up with a plan to end poverty and ensure a livable income for every person in Prince Edward Island. That so many people are experiencing food insecurity in a province so abundant in food is a shameful thing. We have the power to change this, what’s needed is the will.

NFU Concerned About Changes in Lands Protection Regulations


The National Farmers Union is concerned about recent changes to the regulations governing the Lands Protection Act. In particular they point to the regulation concerning leased land. Up until now, leased land has been counted in the land holdings of both the owner and the person or corporation leasing the property. This changed recently – now the land is only included in the holdings of the person or corporation leasing the property, allowing further acreage to be bought or leased.

Secondly, under the Act, individuals can exclude up to 400 acres of non-arable land from their holdings (corporations can exclude up to 1200 acres). The definition of what constitutes non-arable land was recently changed to include land that has not been cultivated within the past four years. The NFU says that leaves the door open for land used for perennial crops as blueberries and apples to be classified as non-arable and therefore eligible for exemption.

The NFU is concerned that these changes allow individuals or corporations to be in compliance with the Act in ways that are really in violation of the spirit and intent of the Act. For the past several months the NFU has been asking to meet with Premier Wade MacLauchlan to discuss their concerns. Having had no success, they are issuing the following Open Letter to Premier MacLauchlan. Continue reading

New Brunswick Releases Local Food Strategy


Last month the Government of New Brunswick released a 15-page strategy to increase awareness of and availability of locally-produced food in that province. You can read the strategy here.

Although short on detail (how to reduce barriers to getting local food into retail stores; a timeline for increasing local food availability in schools; how the new logo will be monitored), the strategy has been welcomed for what it is – a plan “to improve consumer awareness of local food and beverages, to make more local food and beverages available, and better support for new or expanding food and beverage enterprises”.

The Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the National Farmers Union and NB Departments of Education and Early Childhood Education; Social Development; Health; and Tourism, Culture and Heritage were partners in the project leading to the development of the strategy.


Community Spotlight: Tyne Valley Caring Cupboard

PEI’s newest food bank is at the Tyne Valley Presbyterian Church and is an expansion of the West Prince Caring Cupboard, with locations in Bloomfield, Alberton and Tignish. The Tyne Valley Caring Cupboard is open Thursdays from 10 AM to 12 PM.

45 households used the Cupboard in September alone. Volunteers say most clients visit the Cupboard once a month and are employed but struggling to afford food.caring-cupboard

Last year’s Hunger Count from Food Banks Canada, showed that 3,153 Islanders visited food banks in just one month (March) and that 35% of those helped were children. That means 1 out of every 5 children on PEI cannot count on having enough to eat at home.

Read more about the Cupboard and how you can help improve food security here on Salty – The Island’s Food Digest.