Nunavut government welcomes UN food envoy’s report
“We understand the seriousness of this issue"
The Government of Nunavut says a recent report from Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to food, contains “strong recommendations.”
The report was presented March 4 to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
In its official response Canada’s federal government said De Schutter displayed “a regrettable lack of understanding” of Canada’s federalist constitution in the report.
But the GN said De Schutter’s report makes strong recommendations on how to address food insecurity, many of which complement its efforts and those of its partners in the Nunavut Food Security Coalition.
“On behalf of the Government of Nunavut, I welcome the report of Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food,” said Peter Taptuna, the GN’s minister responsible for the Nunavut Anti-Poverty Secretariat, in a March 5 news release.
In the news release, the GN said the government has made food security a priority, citing the formation of the Nunavut Food Security Coalition with Inuit organizations, the Nunavut Food Security Symposium in January, and the preparation of the Nunavut Food Security Strategy, which will be released this spring.
In the 2013 budget, the GN allocated $900,000 in support for the country food distribution program, as well as the $1.7 million dedicated to fight poverty and homelessness.
In his report, the Special Rapporteur notes the Inuit Health Survey states that 70 per cent of adults living in Nunavut are food insecure, six times the national average and the highest documented food insecurity rate for any aboriginal population in a developed country, the news release noted.
“We understand the seriousness of this issue, and will carefully consider the recommendations in this document,” Taptuna said. “We are working to mobilize our partners and resources in Nunavut and will welcome the collaboration and support of the federal government.”
De Schutter visited Canada between May 6 and May 12, last year.
His report, which was released last December, said that aboriginal populations living off reserves “confront increased food insecurity in comparison to the average Canada household.”
De Schutter said he was “disconcerted by the deep and severe food insecurity” that he found.
There are programs, he said, but “they fall short, however of what the urgency of the situation requires.”
Among his recommendations: more scrutiny of Nutrition North to make sure the subsidy aimed at offsetting the high cost of nutritional food in the North is passed to consumers.
De Schutter said Nutrition North seems to be “implemented without an inclusive and transparent process” and that “more needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of Nutrition North.
De Schutter also said Canada needs a national food strategy “for the realization of the right to food,” which he said is a human right.
His recommendations include improving access to country foods and increasing social assistance and minimum wage levels so that all Canadians can afford to eat well.