Put food issues on the table this election

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The Nova Scotia Food Security Network, Nova Scotia Food Policy Council and Nova Scotia Nutrition Council want to see food issues on the table during this provincial election.

The Nova Scotia Food Security Network, Nova Scotia Food Policy Council and Nova Scotia Nutrition Council want to see food issues on the table during this provincial election.  To this end, they have asked all four political parties for answers to eight questions related to community food security ranging from health initiatives to poverty reduction to support for agriculture and fisheries to the development of a comprehensive food policy.

Nova Scotia is a province with a rich cultural fabric, strong food traditions and a long history of fishing, farming and community self-reliance.  It is also home to growing rates of food insecurity and chronic disease, farmers who are struggling to make ends meet and food that travels 4000km from farm to plate. “Food is important in almost every aspect of our lives – in Nova Scotia, it is not just what sustains us physically, but it also plays an important role in supporting our rural economy,” said Marla MacLeod, co-chair of the Nova Scotia Food Security Network.

“We are pleased to see thoughtful responses to our questionnaire from all four political parties,” stated Leah Poirier, acting chair of the Nova Scotia Nutrition Council (NSNC).

All four parties recognized the importance of developing strategies for food security in Nova Scotia, however each suggests a different path to get there. Three (PC, Liberal and Green) of the four parties committed to developing a provincial food strategy, while the fourth, the NDP, said that food would be addressed in their Green Economic Strategy.

As for creating social policy that targets poverty reduction, and supports food security, there were quite varied responses.  The PCs suggest that encouraging donations to food banks and eliminating small business tax would be effective; the NDP supports the idea of adjusting the minimum wage to be in line with Low Income Cut-Off threshold set by Statistics Canada, and keeping the HST off home energy and other family essentials. 

The Liberals focused more on infrastructure supports stating that there needs to be investment in public transit, and more affordable housing, while also improving our existing Employment Support and Income Assistance program.

Finally, the Greens suggested that a comprehensive poverty elimination policy needs to be created in conjunction with food security programs such as breakfast programs, community gardens, and better support for food banks.  

Full responses from all four parties can be found here: http://www.nsfoodsecurity.org/

“We need to bring many people around the table to develop a food policy that is integrated across departments and takes many perspectives into account.  At the very least, the development of a Nova Scotia Food Policy requires participation from farmers, fishermen, healthcare and social welfare providers, and community food activists,” said Dr. Edith Callaghan, chair of the Nova Scotia Food Policy Council.

The NSNC agrees with the need for a comprehensive, provincial food policy that will help families have better resources and the capacity to access healthy food.  According to Poirier, “Our health is our wealth and presently Nova Scotians face very high rates of chronic disease. The food choices we make are based on the choices we have. Building a healthy food system will benefit everyone.”

Organizations: Nova Scotia Nutrition Council, Nova Scotia Food Security Network, Nova Scotia Food Policy Council NDP Statistics Canada

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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