K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) - The Ecology Action Centre welcomes today’s announcement from Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, of new details about the Food Policy for Canada.
“This policy is a step towards building a resilient, sustainable and just food system for all,” says Satya Ramen, Senior Coordinator, Community Food at the Ecology Action Centre.
The Food Policy for Canada has been under development since consultations began in 2017 by the federal government, but the EAC along with their partners across the country have been asking for this policy for much longer.
“Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in Canada, with 1 in 7 households experiencing food insecurity, due to low income and precarious employment. In addition, many urban and rural communities lack affordable access to healthy, local and sustainably produced food,” Ramen says.
Poor access to healthy food contributes to poorer physical and mental health. With Nova Scotia’s health care systems already struggling to serve current health needs, Ramen thinks the burden on our health care system will continue to rise.
Canada is the only G7 country without a national school food program. The EAC has been co-leading the #SpeakUp4SchoolFood campaign with Nourish NS, part of the national Coalition for Healthy School Food initiative asking for a federal investment in healthy food in schools.
Earlier this year, a House of Commons e-petition calling for a national investment in school food garnered thousands of signatures, with 22 per cent of all signatures coming from Nova Scotia.
“Nova Scotians have been sent a clear message that they want a federal investment in a national, universal healthy school food program,” Ramen says.
She says the Minister’s announcement on continued progress and consultations with provinces, territories and stakeholders is promising.
“I was very pleased to hear Minister Bibeau reference the development of a new Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council,” says Ramen. “This is a critical component to ensure a strong and democratic voice for communities in helping to inform policy development, implementation and evaluation at the federal level. It will be important to limit the influence of industry groups to ensure a healthy, just and sustainable food is available for everyone in Canada. This is particularly important for Nova Scotians, where Ottawa can feel far away and where we often have a smaller voice on the national stage.”
While this announcement is welcome, there is much still to be determined and accomplished. “We need to ensure sustainable fishing and farming practices to protect our health, our lands, our oceans, and our climate,” Ramen says. “Continued efforts are needed if we are going to see the kinds of change needed to ensure that all families and communities have access to good food.”
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