Surplus Food Rescue Program provides up to $15.5 million to Canadian fish and seafood industry

News release

August 24, 2020 - Halifax, Nova Scotia - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, Jaime Battiste, and Member of Parliament for Halifax West, Geoff Regan, on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, today highlighted support through the Surplus Food Rescue Program for vulnerable Canadians facing food insecurity and Canada’s fish and seafood industry. The program will purchase up to $15.5 million at the cost of production, of surplus fish and seafood which will be distributed to families in need.

The funding was announced at Clearwater Seafoods, who in partnership with the Membertou First Nation, will receive $1.49 million towards the purchase of 150,000 pounds of surplus scallops. The project will distribute high quality scallops to Indigenous households, with the Membertou First Nation leading the distribution of the product to Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia and across Atlantic Canada.

In addition, Green Seafoods Ltd. will receive $55,230 through the program to rescue 24,000 pounds of frozen, cooked blue mussels. The mussels will be distributed to vulnerable populations in Nova Scotia through Feed Nova Scotia’s existing distribution network.

The innovative Surplus Food Rescue Program is a $50-million federal initiative designed to repurpose and redistribute food inventories of high volume, highly perishable surplus products falling under horticulture, meat, and fish and seafood to vulnerable Canadians, while avoiding food waste. These surpluses were created because the COVID-19 pandemic largely shut down the restaurant and hospitality industry, leaving many producers without a key market for their food commodities.

The Program awarded contributions to eight organizations who will be leveraging existing networks and food hubs, established by national food recovery agencies and companies, to bring the food to all regions of the country. The fish and seafood sector makes up approximately one third of these contributions, and will result in 2.6 million pounds of fish and seafood, including walleye, salmon, tuna sole and pollock, scallops, and blue mussels, to be purchased and distributed charity organizations and food-insecure families across Canada.

Quotes

“Our fish and seafood harvesters work day in and day out throughout the harvesting season to earn a good living and feed families here in Canada and around the world. Through this initiative, we are able to rescue a significant portion of this year’s catch and ensure it gets to those who need it most. It's a win-win.”

- The Honourable Marie Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores, Nova Scotians have demonstrated an outstanding level of compassion for those among us who needed a helping hand. Through this program, the federal government is enabling community organizations to acquire food to distribute to those in need, while also lending a hand to our fish harvesters, who are so integral to our economy and our identity as Nova Scotians."

- The Honourable Geoff Regan, Member of Parliament for Halifax West

"Nova Scotia has rightly earned a reputation for providing world-class seafood to consumers around the world. This partnership between Clearwater Seafoods and the Mi'kmaq community of Membertou will ensure that, rather than go to waste, this surplus will be distributed to Indigenous communities here in Nova Scotia and across Canada."

- Jaime Battiste Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria

“Clearwater is very pleased to participate in this program that will provide free access to nutritious, high quality seafood to First Nations families in Atlantic Canada.”

- Ian Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Clearwater Seafoods

Quick facts

  • Food is purchased at cost of production, so that producers and processors will be compensated fairly for what would otherwise be lost, but will not make a profit.

  • Since 1976, Clearwater Seafood, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia has grown to become one of the world’s leading wild seafood companies dedicated to Sustainable Seafood Excellence.

  • According to Statistics Canada, one in seven Canadians indicated that they live in a household where there was food insecurity over a one month period during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Inuit, First Nations, Inuit and Métis adults across the North experience five to six times higher levels of food insecurity than the Canadian national average.

  • In 2019, there were 1.1 million visits to food banks and 5.6 million meals served on average each month.

  • This announcement builds on the measures we have introduced to keep Canada’s agri-workforce strong, including:

    • $100 million for food banks and local food organizations to help Canadians experiencing food insecurity, which is helping serve an estimated 2 million Canadians through 1,800 different community-level food organizations.
    • Over $77 million in funding for the Emergency Processing Fund (EPF), whose objectives include helping companies implement changes to safeguard the health and safety of workers and their families.
    • $25 million through Nutrition North to ensure food security for Canada’s most vulnerable
    • Travel exemptions for all temporary foreign workers, including seasonal agricultural workers and fish/seafood workers.
    • $50 million in funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers to help the farming, fish harvesting, and food production and processing sectors cover the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on temporary foreign workers upon entering Canada.

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Contacts

Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
jean-sebastien.comeau@canada.ca
343-549-2326

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972
aafc.mediarelations-relationsmedias.aac@canada.ca
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