C-281 - Projet de loi pour une Journée nationale de l'alimentation locale

Comité Sénatorial Permanent sur l'Agriculture et les Forêts : C-281 - Un projet de loi pour une Journée Nationale de l'Alimentation Locale

Gisèle Yasmeen - Executive Director, Food Secure Canada / Directrice générale, Réseau pour une alimentation durable

- Texte original ci-dessous -

Thank you very much, Madame Chair, to you and members of the committee for the invitation to appear before you today. I am representing Food Secure Canada, a national alliance of organizations and individuals who are committed to achieving three goals: zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and a sustainable food system for all Canadians. Over the past decade, we have spoken directly with thousands of Canadians in all regions of the country about their vision for food policy and, as part of that work, we are delighted to support Bill-281, An Act to establish National Local Food Day. I would like to take five minutes to touch on the social, cultural, environmental, political and economic importance of local food.

Activities at the local level in the Canadian food movement are one of the most exciting developments this country has had over the past 20 years and range from horticultural production through food processing and distribution activities including innovative retailing and food service activities from coast to coast to coast. There is also an active citizen and consumer movement at the grassroots level very much driving this change. FSC is proud to be a “network of networks” with hundreds of supporters, members and partners.

Local food has important social and cultural aspects with associated economic benefits. For example, small-scale and locally-oriented food production and value-added activities can provide valuable livelihoods for Canadians of diverse backgrounds including women, Indigenous peoples, immigrants and refugees.

Local food is also, for example, increasingly playing a role in institutional food procurement – such as that which is provided by hospitals, schools and universities and there is the potential to go much further. As FSC’s Jennifer Reynolds described in a 2017 article written for food service buyers, local food has the following overall benefits: reducing “food miles and generally having lighter environmental footprint; fresher, more flavourful food; eating more seasonally; supporting local economies and entrepreneurs and transparency – knowing where your food comes from.

From a cultural preservation standpoint, including reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, local food has a central role to play. Indigenous people have been calling for more sovereignty over their food choices, and food is critical when it comes to recognizing and conserving traditional knowledge and biodiversity, all of which are deeply rooted in place since time immemorial.

From an environmental standpoint, we’ve already touched on the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of food by promoting “locavore” diets and certain practices such as organic farming and community and business led food waste reduction efforts affecting food production, distribution and consumption can also reduce pressure on the environment with respect to the “food, energy, water” nexus.

This brings us to the political importance of food, with politics understood here in terms of broad "power relations". Food in general, and local food in particular, is or should be of importance to people of all ideological persuasions and in all our political parties. The concept of food sovereignty is one where local food plays an important role and communities have the opportunity to take ownership of food-related resources. While there is no doubt that Canada will always both import and export food, having some control over how we feed ourselves as Canadians – rooted in local communities from coast to coast to coast – is an issue of fundamental political importance, which is why, for the second time, Food Secure Canada will soon be launching its Eat, Think, Vote campaign to promote discussion of food and food policy during the federal election taking place this fall.

Finissons, alors, avec les aspects économiques des aliments locaux. J’aimerais attirer votre attention aux informations que nous avons fait circulé par écrit en avance aux membres du comité. Bref, les aliments qui sont soit produits ou transformés localement ont un impact économique important et, avec les bonnes politiques publiques, ont le potentiel de transformer l’économie des communautés canadiennes. L’étude que j’ai partagé avec vous concerne la province de l’Ontario. Une étude publiée en 2015 par la Fondation McConnell suggère des moyens de changer le système alimentaire de l’Ontario pour accroître l’apport d’aliments locaux, créer des emplois et favoriser un mode de vie sain. Le rapport examine divers scénarios. Quelques observations clées :

  • Une réduction de 10 % de l’importation des dix fruits et légumes les plus courants et l’expansion de la production locale permettraient de créer 3400 emplois et de hausser le Produit Intérieur Brut de la province de près d’un quart de milliard de dollars.

  • L’adoption par les Ontariens d’un régime alimentaire plus sain hausserait la demande de fruits, de légumes et de certaines céréales. Par exemple, si on atteignait le niveau idéal de la consommation d’avoine, cela créerait 241 emplois et le PIB de la province augmenterait de plus de 14,2 millions $.

  • Le passage à 10 % de la consommation d’aliments biologiques pourrait améliorer les revenus agricoles et réduire l’impact de la production alimentaire sur l’environnement, mais il faudrait pour cela importer plusieurs produits ou accroître la production biologique locale.

Les auteurs estiment que l’Ontario pourrait produire lui-même plus de la moitié de ses importations alimentaires de 20 milliards de dollars, une conclusion que notre mouvement reconnaît depuis longtemps. Le rapport démontre clairement l’importance d’investir dans l’essor des systèmes alimentaires régionaux et d’offrir le cadre réglementaire, l’infrastructure et les réseaux de distribution requis pour faire prospérer ces systèmes.

SI cela vous intéresse, notre organisme, le Réseau pour une alimentation durable, pourrait vous émettre une proposition pour une étude à l’échelle canadienne en rassemblant l’expérience de notre réseau afin d’explorer les impacts économiques des aliments locau

To conclude, we would like to reiterate our support for Bill 281 and are pleased to know it was supported by all parties in the House of Commons and hope it will pass before parliament rises, along with other key pieces of food-related legislation. We are delighted about the announcement regarding the funding for a National Food Policy in Budget 2019 – something we and our partners have advocated for since more than a decade. The $50 million allocation for a community-driven Local Food Infrastructure Fund is directly relevant to our discussion today. We look forward to the announcement of the food policy in the coming months as well as related initiatives such as the commitment to a national healthy school food program. We reiterate our recommendation for a national multi-stakeholder advisory body to steer the roll out of the national food policy and continue to be at your disposal to collaborate on continuing to create a healthy, just and sustainable food system in Canada.

Thank you very much and I look forward to your questions and comments.


See full report here

See Gisèle Yasmeen's Advocacy at Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (9:04:00)