Constituents’ concerns prompt Nunavut MLA’s Nutrition North Canada survey
"Constituents [want] reasonable prices for food before they see the navy"
Nunavut MLA Ron Elliott, who represents the Quttiktuq riding in the High Arctic, said he hopes the federal government will pay attention to the results of his online Nutrition North Canada survey.
Elliott created the online survey to find out how people are feeling about the food subsidy program and to clarify what their opinions are about it.
“As people know, I have certain biases to the Nutrition North Canada program,” said Elliott, who has asked many times in Nunavut’s legislature about whether or not subsidies to realtors are being passed on to customers.
The program, launched in April 2011, is run across the North with more than $50 million in federal money.
In its recent budget, Ottawa also earmarked $116 million for the Nanisivik naval project.
But Elliott said his “constituents [want] reasonable prices for food before they see the navy,” said Elliott, an issue he has raised before.
The online survey is a way to “be able to put their voices in,” he said.
When asked about the validity of his survey, Elliott suggested the federal government could carry out a customer satisfaction survey of its own.
Elliott said that task is something the program’s advisory board could be the “perfect fit” for.
The Government of Nunavut has an intergovernmental monitoring program for Nutrition North, but its members haven’t asked any questions either, he said.
Elliott said his constituents want to see higher subsidies on healthy food and more transparency within the program, such as the retailer showing how much a person is saving on the receipt.
They also complain about changes in the list of eligible food items and that the advisory board is a “token board,” he said.
All retailers who use the program should also be included in the program’s compliance reports, which are available on the Nutrition North Canada website.
Hopefully, the survey will help prove these concerns, he said.
Overall, his constituents are not happy with the program.
“That’s what I’m hearing,” Elliott said, adding “we need to continue to try to have our voices heard.”
People “want to find out the truth about what is going on [with Nutrition North Canada],” he said.
Elliott plans to table the results of the online survey during the May sitting of the legislature. He also intends to send copies to Nutrition North and the members of its advisory board.
“I’m trying to work with them to try to improve the program,” said Elliott, acknowledging that the two-year-old program is still in its “infancy.”
As of April 5, about 300 people had completed Elliott’s online survey, which you can find here.