Nunavut MLAs want federal audit of Nutrition North Canada
MLAs plan to put motion forward May 16
Nunavut MLAs want the Auditor General of Canada to look at the Nutrition North Canada program, the legislative assembly heard May 14.
South Baffin MLA Fred Schell gave notice that he would bring forward a motion May 16 to that effect during a member’s statement.
“I’m sure my colleagues and I would all agree there are plenty of reasons why the Auditor General of Canada needs to audit the Nutrition North program,” he said.
“We need to find out once and for all what’s happening with our Canadian tax dollars,” Schell said.
Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott said he would second the motion, calling on the federal Auditor General to conduct a comprehensive performance audit of the federal Nutrition North program, something he is “strongly in favour of.”
This past April, Elliott made an online survey about the program for his constituents to take -— to find out how people are feeling about the food subsidy program and to clarify what their opinions are about it.
A total of 375 people completed the survey — and one of the most striking findings from the survey, was that more than 90 per cent of respondents said that they did not feel that the subsidy provided by Nutrition North is being fully passed on to consumers, Elliott said.
“As you will recall from the 2011 meetings that we held in this chamber with retailers, federal officials from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board, the issue of pricing transparency was a major concern,” Elliott said.
Northerners don’t have confidence in the program’s success when it comes to transparency, he said.
The survey’s findings also revealed a lack of confidence and awareness in the work of the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board.
Over 90 per cent of respondents said that they do not feel that the board is giving northerners a direct voice in the program, Elliott said.
“We received a commitment from federal officials following our 2011 meetings that the annual reports of the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board would be made publicly available…we are still awaiting this,” he said.
About 80 per cent of Elliott’s survey respondents said that they have not noticed a decrease in the price of perishable foods since the introduction of the program.
“If the Nutrition North Canada Program is not making a substantive impact in ensuring that healthy foods are affordable for our constituents, it’s time to be ready to rethink the program,” Elliott said.