Duncan defends Tory nutritious food program
"Nutrition North Canada is having a positive impact"
John Duncan, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, doesn’t agree with Carolyn Bennett the Liberal MP for the Toronto riding of St. Paul’s and her party’s Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development critic, who said Nutrition North Canada is “a total failure.”
Duncan issued a statement June 27 to say the food subsidy program “is having a positive impact.”
His statement came after Bennett, who was in Iqaluit, had slammed the Conservative government’s food subsidy program.
“Nutrition North Canada is having a positive impact,” Duncan said. “We will continue to work with northerners to ensure that the program is meeting their needs. Program audits show that our accountability mechanisms are working and that the subsidy is being passed along to consumers.”
Duncan said his department’s monitoring of the cost of buying food under Nutrition North is “far more comprehensive” than under the previous program.
“We are seeing that food prices in the Northern Food Basket for a family of four have dropped on average five per cent and as much as 14 per cent. Prices on some products, such as two litres of two-per cent milk, have dropped by as much as 37 per cent,” he said.
Lower prices under Nutrition North are increasing the amount of healthy foods northerners eat, he said.
Some retailers are reporting increases of up to 19 per cent for dairy products and fresh produce, said Duncan, noting that almost 90 percent of the subsidies go to produce, meat and alternatives, milk and dairy, and grain products.
“Our government has also invested in helping communities to develop the skills necessary for selecting and preparing healthy store-bought and traditional or country foods. For instance, Health Canada is investing $4.43 million over two years to fund nutrition education programs which will support isolated northern communities under the NNC program,” he said.
Duncan did say “there is always more work to be done.”
That’s why his government has created the Nutrition North advisory board, he said.
“We encourage Northerners to continue to share their thoughts and suggestions with the board. Working together we will ensure that Northerners have access to affordable, nutritious food.”