Government of Canada announces improvements to Nutrition North Canada including support for country food

News release

December 10, 2018 — Iqaluit, NU — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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.

Quotes

“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.”

Nellie Cournoyea
Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board Chair

Quick facts

  • 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.

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Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Vincent Hughes
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade
Vincent.Hughes@iga-aig.gc.ca
613-947-7031

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
819-934-2302
RCAANC.media.CIRNAC@canada.ca

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