IQALUIT, Dec. 10, 2018 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada recognizes that the Nutrition North Canada program has not been working for Northerners and is modernizing and reforming the program to better address Northerners' needs.
Following extensive engagement with Northern and Indigenous partners, community members and key stakeholders, the Government of Canada is taking action to tackle the high cost of food for people living in isolated northern communities.
Today Yvonne Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade and Member of Parliament for Labrador, announced significant improvements to the Nutrition North Canada program on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade.
Part of the Government's ongoing efforts to respond to the concerns and realities of Northerners, these improvements will help reduce the cost of perishable, nutritious food and make the program more transparent, effective, accountable and culturally relevant to Northerners and Indigenous people in isolated communities.
As of January 1, 2019, these improvements will include:
- a fully revised subsidized foods list, which includes a focus on northern staples and family-friendly items;
- a new highest-level subsidy rate specifically for milk, frozen fruit, frozen vegetables, infant formula, and infant food; and
- an increase to the two current subsidy rates to help further lower cost of perishable, nutritious food.
Today's announcement follows the commitment in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement to invest an additional $62.6 million over five years starting in 2019–20, with $10.4 million ongoing, in the Nutrition North Canada program. These significant investments will help to support program changes, informed by consultations with Northerners, and will also introduce a Harvesters Support Grant to help lower the high costs associated with traditional hunting and harvesting activities, which are an important source of healthy, traditional food.
The announcement included the creation of an Inuit-Crown Food Security working group to focus on food security and work towards a sustainable food system in Inuit Nunangat. The current Indigenous working group will continue its important work ensuring that the unique interests, priorities and circumstances of First Nations and Métis are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented.
"Northerners and Indigenous people made it clear that Nutrition North Canada was not working, and we have listened. The improvements we have brought to the subsidy rates, the food eligibility list, as well as the support for country food all come from our discussions with Northerners. Together, we will work to put in place solutions developed by Northerners for Northerners."
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade
"Our government firmly believes that policy created with Northerners, for Northerners is the most effective. The changes to the subsidy rates and the food eligibility list announced today reflect what we have heard from Northerners about how we can better help them access healthy foods."
Yvonne Jones, M.P.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade
"The Advisory Board is very pleased to see that the concerns and feedback from Northerners are reflected in the changes to the Nutrition North Canada Program. Throughout the public engagement process, Northerners most often expressed the need for further support for traditional harvesting. That is why we particularly welcome the Government's commitment to introduce a Harvesters Support Grant to help lower the high costs associated with traditional hunting and harvesting activities."
Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board Chair
- Nutrition North Canada is a subsidy program launched on April 1, 2011, that works with retailers across the North and food suppliers in southern Canada to help make perishable, nutritious food more affordable and accessible.
- In 2016, the Government engaged with Northerners, Indigenous organizations, and key partners to understand how Nutrition North Canada could become more transparent, cost-effective, and culturally appropriate.
- On October 1, 2016, as part of a Budget 2016 the Nutrition North Canada program expanded to an additional 37 isolated northern communities.
- Budget 2016 provided an additional $64.5 million over five years and $13.8 million per year ongoing to expand Nutrition North Canada to support all northern isolated communities.
Immediate Updates to the Nutrition North Canada and Harvesters Support Grant Programs
To reflect what was heard during engagement with Northern and Indigenous families, community members and other key stakeholders, the Government of Canada is making the following changes to the Nutrition North Canada as of January 1, 2019 and will invest in a new Harvesters Support Grant starting in 2019-20:
Nutrition North Canada is updating its list of subsidized food and increasing subsidy rates to further reduce the cost of healthy foods. The updated Nutrition North Canada eligibility list reflects what we heard from Northerners during the engagement to include foods that are northern staples, family friendly and nutritious.
A new targeted (highest) subsidy rate is being introduced to further reduce the cost of frozen fruits and vegetables, milk, infant food and infant formula in all eligible communities.
In addition, all eligible communities will receive at least a $0.15 per kilogram increase in their Higher level subsidy rates.
76 eligible communities that previously received a Lower level subsidy rate under $1.00 per kilogram will have this subsidy rate raised to $1.00 per kilogram.
Nutrition North Canada's suppliers will offer more than one option for method of payment. Nutrition North Canada is also expanding the list of suppliers available for direct/personal orders, to provide consumers with more choices.
- Facilitate participation of smaller retailers in the Nutrition North Canada program
Nutrition North Canada is providing financial support to smaller retailers to help them with the costs of meeting reporting requirements, as well as providing financial assistance with point of sale systems for retailers entering the program, so they can show the subsidy on their receipts. This support will make it easier for small retailers, including small family-run businesses, to participate in the program. More participating retailers means more access to healthy, nutritious food for Northerners.
- Changes to NNC eligibility criteria to ensure that the subsidy benefits only northern residents
Nutrition North Canada is updating its eligibility criteria to ensure that only retailers and suppliers that serve the residents of isolated communities are eligible.
This will allow a greater proportion of program subsidy dollars to flow to establishments that focus on serving Northerners and ensure that the subsidy only goes to the intended program beneficiaries.
- Responsiveness to changing community realities
Effective immediately, communities that suddenly become completely isolated because of lack of surface transportation (no sealift, road, or rail access) will be eligible for a subsidy that supports an expanded list of food and non-food items to help minimize the price shocks associated with unanticipated changes to community surface access.
All communities' supply chain systems will be reviewed annually (winter/ice road routes in May each year, and sealift/barge routes in November each year) to assess whether the surface transportation routes were available.
- Increased funding and the Harvesters Support Grant program
Through the 2018 Fall Economic Statement, the Government proposes to invest an additional $62.6 million over five years starting in 2019–20, with $10.4 million ongoing, in the Nutrition North Canada program. These significant investments will help to support program changes, informed by consultations with Northerners, and includes a new Harvesters Support Grant to help lower the high costs associated with traditional hunting and harvesting activities, which are an important source of healthy, traditional food.
- Continued co-development with Indigenous partners
The Government of Canada is proud to announce a Working Group on Food Security, which will focus on, among other items, co-development of the implementation of the Harvesters Support Grant program, with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami ("ITK") and Inuit regions at the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee. Continued engagement and development with Indigenous partners is essential for addressing food security in the North in order to create sustainable, lasting solutions.
- Revised Subsidized Foods List
- Revised Nutrition North Canada Subsidy Rates
- Nutrition North Canada
- Nutrition North Canada improvements since 2016 Engagement
- Nutrition North Canada Engagement 2016: Final report of what we heard
- Government of Canada Expands Nutrition North Canada Program to Isolated Communities in the North
- 2018 Fall Economic Statement
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SOURCE Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC)
For further information: media may contact: Vincent Hughes, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, [email protected], 613-947-7031; Media Relations, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, 819-934-2302, [email protected]