Everybody Eats Launched by Federal NDP


The New Democratic Party of Canada has just launched its own new food policy for Canada:  Everybody Eats. The document, clearly intended to warm up the electorate in advance of 2015, is quite comprehensive in scope and it outlines a bold new vision for food in Canada.  There are many similarities to Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada, showing that we have indeed had a significant policy impact  -- at least on the opposition benches!   Many members of Food Secure Canada participated in consultations that the NDP held during the development of its food policy.  New Democrat MPs, like all the others in the House of Commons, received a copy of the People’s Food Policy and have had a chance to discuss it with us in a variety of settings.

NDP MP and Agriculture Critic Malcolm Allen led the policy development process, and there is more detail on agricultural policy than there is on issues pertaining to fisheries, healthy and safe food, or on food insecurity and the related poverty and social policy needs. People who are concerned first and foremost about the 4 million Canadians living in food insecurity will be disappointed by the lack of detailed attention to the scandal of hunger in Canada, particularly amongst First Nations and northern and remote populations.  

There are many positive elements in the policy, such as:
• Incentives for more local and sustainable food systems;
• Endorsement for a pan-Canadian School Nutrition Program, “sourced locally as much as possible with excellent nutritional standards”;
• Labeling for GMO food and support for organic production and certification;
• Incentives for new entrants into farming;
• Focus on public research and ensuring that plant varieties remain in the public domain;
• Decent working conditions, and a path to citizenship for temporary foreign workers;
• Environmental measures such as protection of soils, watersheds and pollinators;
• Measures to reduce land speculation and greenhouse gases;
• Support for CSAs, cooperatives and food hubs;

How do we get to this bold new vision? The NDP suggests a “a pan-Canadian food policy council comprising different levels of government, department agencies and stakeholder groups to identify opportunities for federal support of healthy eating and investment in local and regional markets.”   This is promising indeed, and would be giant step forward by bringing diverse stakeholders and relevant government levels and departments around a single table to focus on a food policy for Canada that is built on the very real interactions between health, equity and sustainability.

There are areas in the policy that still need work.  Food as a human right only appears at the end of the document, whereas it should frame the issue at the outset.  There is not enough on sustainable fisheries management and the crisis in our coastal communities.  The links between sustainable food systems and climate change, and international issues warrant further exploration. Reconciling trade and investment incentives with a more localized system will be more complex than Everybody Eats suggests, and there could be much more detail on healthy and safe food. 

Nonetheless, Food Secure Canada congratulates the NDP for developing this policy. The National Farmers Union issued this press release welcoming the policy.  Christie Young from FarmStart was also pleased about an “agri-food policy framework that ensures young and new farmers have access to the training, mentorship, capital and land that need to start and thrive.” Debbie Field from FoodShare Toronto said:  "It is fantastic to see such a strong endorsement for a pan Canadian school food program. The NDP was the first federal party to support these programs, and now is the time for all federal parties to work together to create a universal national school food program".

Food Secure Canada looks forward to working with all candidates in the next election to ensure that a national food policy is adopted in the near future, for the benefit of eaters and producers alike.  Come to our Assembly and get involved!

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