In late June, we attended a Food Summit in Ottawa hosted by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).The goal of gathering was to gather input on the formation of A Food Policy for Canada. The policy is set to roll out in 2018.
The Food Summit brought together approximately 300 people from across Canada to provide input on key issues to be addressed by A Food Policy for Canada. Attendees represented a variety of sectors including food producers, non-government organizations, academics, legal and policy experts, community advocates, and food industry representatives. Speakers at the summit included Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Yvonne Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development).
The two days at the Summit were packed with discussion, and it was apparent that tackling problems related to food on a national scale is not easy or straightforward. Despite the complicated nature of the topic some key ideas arose from the discussions:
- A national food council or other multi-sector group is needed to oversee A Food Policy for Canada, ensure that it continues beyond the current government, and adapts to changes in Canada’s food system.
- All consultations and lobbying related to A Food Policy for Canada should be made public so that veryone in Canada can know how the policy was formed and who was involved in the process. .
- A Food Policy for Canada must promote reconciliation with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, and contribute to Indigenous food sovereignty.
- A national food policy should be integrated with other federal government initiatives related to food, including Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy (Health Canada) and revisions to the Nutrition North Canada program (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s revisions to Nutrition North Canada.
- A Food Policy for Canada must include funding and resources for programs that promote a healthy, sustainable, and just food system for Canada.
A Food Policy for Canada has the potential to create change in our food system that will make it easier for people to get the food that they need. AAFC plans to hold 10 more regional consultations between now and September 2017. The details of these consultations are yet to come. We are hopeful that the consultations will seek input from even more voices, including Indigenous people, northern communities, and every day eaters.
We look forward to hearing greater detail about the next round of consultations and will share them as we learn more. We encourage everyone to take part in the AAFC survey on a Food Policy for Canada- found here. The survey closes on July 27th.