Food insecurity is largely about the struggle to afford food. Statistics Canada estimates there are 1.7 million households (nearly 4 million Canadians) which are considered "food insecure."
A UNICEF report ranked Canada 37th out of 41 countries in terms of access to nutritious food for children.
Lower-income populations are affected more than others: recent immigrants, people of colour, single mothers. Children are especially vulnerable—one in six kids in Canada live in food-insecure households. Increases in the number of low-wage, part-time, or contract jobs, a lack of affordable housing, the high costs of post-secondary education, and insufficient social assistance, have all created the conditions that contribute to food insecurity.
The NDP believe that everyone one in Canada (especially children) should have access to nutritious food. Key aspects of our policies regarding food insecurity:
First, governments must stop off-loading the job of feeding people to food banks, churches, soup kitchens, and charitable organizations. Access to healthy nutritious food is a fundamental human right; all Canadians should have access to adequate amounts of high-quality, healthy food.
Second, because food insecurity is so tied to poverty, an underlying solution is to reduce and eliminate poverty by providing a living wage and income support – whether this is $15 minimum wage, adequate income supplements or my personal preference: basic income guarantee. More money in the pockets of working poor and those below the poverty line mean more money to be spent on staples, in particular food.
A provincial food strategy should be developed as part of a broader national food policy. As the MP for Kings Hants, I would work with key stakeholders to develop a food strategy for this riding that seeks to better understand the nature, scope, causes and impacts of food insecurity in the region and how it can be best addressed.
We need to ramp up efforts to ensure access to healthy nutritious foods in local supermarkets year-round by poor, marginalized populations. We should also subsidize the transportation costs that low-income people need to get to grocery stores (and farmers markets) with healthy selections. More importantly, we must make sure that low-income neighbourhoods, First Nations, and remote communities have grocery stores and other markets filled with healthy food.
We need to work with producers along the supply chain to increase the amount of Canadian (healthy) food that is sold, processed, and consumed in local and regional markets.
The NDP supports the creation of a national universal school food and nutrition program to ensure all students in Canada have access to a healthy breakfast, snack, and/or lunch at school as well as the food literacy skills to make healthy choices for life.
Finally, we need to reduce the amount of meat we eat; at the global level it is estimated that 40 percent of grain crops go to feed livestock and fish. If that grain was fed to humans instead of livestock, we could alleviate chronic hunger from 925 million people.
We may also want to consider taxing junk food and directing these funds to subsidize health food choices especially for those who are food insecure.