November 25, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario – The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, issued the following statement in response to "Chapter 6, Nutrition North Canada" in the 2014 Fall Report of the Office of the Auditor General:
"Our Government wants Northerners, like all Canadians, to have access to quality, nutritious food. That is why we introduced Nutrition North Canada, which in its third year of operation has already proven its ability to increase access to healthy, perishable foods in isolated and remote Northern communities.
This program is proving that it is helping to meet the needs of Northerners and the results are clear. Data collected from registered retailers and suppliers show that the program is having a positive impact in communities, where, since its implementation, the volume of perishable nutritious food shipped to northern communities has increased by approximately 25 percent, and the cost of a food basket for a family of four dropped by approximately $110 a month in the first two years of the program.
To build on this progress, Economic Action Plan 2014 committed to enhance funding for the NNC program to help improve access to healthy foods for the 103 communities it serves. As announced on November 21, 2014, this year and next, our Government will invest $133.7 million in direct subsidies for healthy, perishable foods for Northerners. As opposed to the previous Food Mail program, the Nutrition North Canada program is dynamic and is intended to continue improving.
Our Government welcomes the report issued by the office of the Auditor General (OAG). We accept the five recommendations in the Chapter on Nutrition North Canada. In fact, various initiatives, including the addition of a new clause in the funding agreements that will ensure recipients provide all the information on eligible items, including profit margins and profit margins over time are already under way.
In the coming months, our Government will also be engaging with Northerners, retailers and suppliers on ideas to keep improving the program for Northerners.
We remain committed to providing Northerners with access to perishable nutritious food."
Office of the Honourable Bernard Valcourt
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
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