Food Insecurity: Current Problems

Fed. Govt.

September 29, 2020

Food Insecurity Reports

Beyond Hunger

“Community Food Centres (CFC) – Release of “Beyond Hunger.”

Even before COVID-19, food insecurity affected nearly 4.5 million Canadians. In the first two months of the pandemic, that number grew by 39 per cent. Food insecurity now affects one in seven people, disproportionately impacting low-income and Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities. “Beyond Hunger illustrates that food insecurity is about equity and income,” says Saul. “We urgently need a national solution that goes beyond emergency food assistance. We need a solution founded in solid policy that addresses inadequate social programs, systemic racism and precarious employment.”

Why Food Insecurity happens in Canada:

  • People are stuck in low wage and precarious jobs
  • Canadians are struggling with a rising cost of living
  • Colonialism and systemic racism
  • Low social assistance rates trap people in poverty
  • More and more people are living alone
  • Food in the North is unaffordable


  • 81% say it takes a toll on their physical health
  • 79% say it impacts their mental health
  • 57% say it is harder to find and keep a good job
  • 53% say it is a barrier to finding meaning in life
  • 58% say it limits their ability to take part in social activities
  • 46% say it limits their ability to celebrate their culture

We believe government policy is necessary to address the real cause of food insecurity. Policy is what will increase incomes and make life more affordable — for everyone. Here are four policy changes for the federal government to act on:

  1. Invest in income supports for low income Canadians
    • Increase income benefits for single adults who suffer disproportionately from food insecurity by:
    • Ensuring low-wage workers have equal access to Employment Insurance.
    • Improving existing tax benefits so they provide more income by making them refundable.
    • Creating a tax credit specifically for working-age adults.
    • Ensure low-income Canadians, especially First Nations living on reserve, have better access to tax filing supports and benefit services.
  2. Make life more affordable for Canadians
    • Speed up the implementation of the Canada Housing Benefit, which supports people who can’t
    • afford their housing.
    • Increase federal funding for early learning and child care.
    • Move forward with a universal public pharmacare program.
  3. Set targets and improve reporting on food security
    • Set targets to reduce food insecurity.
    • Ensure Statistics Canada reports on food insecurity annually and collects better race-based data.
  4. Ensure progress on food insecurity is achieved equitably
    • In partnership with Northern leadership, continue to reform Nutrition North Canada.
    • In partnership with Indigenous leadership, create an Indigenous food sovereignty fund.
    • In partnership with Black communities, create a fund to decrease food insecurity for Black Canadians.
    • Apply a racial equity lens to all poverty and food-security policies.

October 21, 2020

Food Insecurity Reports

Climate crisis and First Nations Right to Food

The Narwhal – Human Rights Watch released “My fear is Losing Everything: Climate Crisis and First Nations’ Right to Food in Canada“. The report details how longer and more intense forest fire seasons, permafrost degradation, volatile weather patterns and increased levels of precipitation are all affecting wildlife habitat and, in turn, harvesting efforts.

The report also outlines how there are more hunting and foraging risks due to warming temperatures. For instance, it’s harder — and sometimes impossible — to hunt caribou because the ice and permafrost they travel on isn’t stable enough for hunters.

“Climate change threatens to decimate these food systems, risking further serious consequences for livelihoods and health,” the report states. – _ftn301

The report also found that climate change is driving up prices for less-nutritious, store-bought alternatives that need to be brought in from the south. This is in part due to the fact that roads constructed from snow and ice are becoming less reliable because of warmer winters, meaning food needs to be flown in, which is far more expensive. This compounds the risk of food poverty for First Nations people, the report states.

Canada gets a failing grade on mitigating the effects of climate change, according to the report. The country is among the top 10 emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, with per capita emissions upward of four times higher than the global average, the report states, noting that between 1990 and 2017, emissions increased by roughly 19 per cent, mainly due to mining and oil and gas production.

Canada is warming roughly twice as fast as the global average; in the North, it’s even worse, with temperatures rising three times as quick.

Human Rights Watch lays out several recommendations for the federal government, including that:

  • Canada deem the right to food a basic human right
  • strengthen its climate change policies to reduce emissions
  • improve climate adaptation measures in First Nations and
  • support a transition toward renewable energy, including for First Nations, in the COVID-19 stimulus package. – _ftn301

October 21, 2021

Food Insecurity Strategies

First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study

Assembly of First Nations – Built on collaborative research with 92 First Nations across the country – 7,000 participants over 10 years – the FNFNES highlights that traditional foods remain foundational to First Nations’ health and well-being, and that the quality of traditional food is superior to store bought food. However, due to environmental degradation, socioeconomic, systemic and regulatory barriers, many First Nations face three to five times the rate of food insecurity than the Canadian population overall. Families with children are affected to an even greater degree.

The FNFNES partners urge decision-makers to use the key findings and recommendations, being released the week after World Food Day, to inform policies and programs to address First Nations food insecurity and sovereignty.

The six primary recommendations are:

  1. Support initiatives promoting First Nations rights, sovereignty, self-determination, values and culture.
  2. Prioritize protecting the environment, First Nations lands, waters and territories.\
  3. Build capacity to eliminate barriers to proper nutrition, reducing food insecurity.
  4. Improve partnerships, collaboration and communication between First Nations and all levels of government, as well as partnerships between First Nations to support sharing information about food, nutrition and the environment.
  5. Support continuing research, education and public awareness.
  6. Create a First Nations-led joint national task force or committee to plan how to implement these recommendations.

“For First Nations, traditional food represents much more than nutrition, it plays important cultural, spiritual and ceremonial roles. There is an urgent need to address systemic problems and barriers relating to First Nations food systems, security and sovereignty in a way that honours First Nations knowledge, leadership and rights. New programs, policies and legislation must be created to protect the environment from further degradation and ensure that First Nations have access to a healthy diet, including traditional food,” says AFN Senior Director of Environment Lands and Water and FNFNES Principal Investigator Tonio Sadik.

Now complete, the FNFNES identified areas needing further study. Its core partners are collaborating on another multi-year research project called the Food, Environment, Health and Nutrition of First Nations Children and Youth (FEHNCY) study. Like the FNFNES, this study is being funded by Indigenous Services Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.

March 2, 2018

Food Insecurity Reports

Food Sovereignty and Harvesting

Qukiqtani Inuit Association: “Food Sovereignty and Harvesting” – Food sovereignty for Inuit means the right to nutritious locally-sourced food. In Nunavut this translates to country food. Harvesters play an integral role in Inuit food sovereignty. They provide country food that feeds communities, reinvigorates Inuit cultural practices and stimulates local economies. Food sovereignty incorporates Inuit knowledge, language, culture continuity and community self-sufficiency. Supporting food sovereignty shows a commitment towards reconciliation.

Nutrition North Canada (NNC) is a Government of Canada subsidy program intended to provide Northerners in isolated communities with improved access to perishable nutritious food. QIA echoes the position articulated by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. about the shortcomings of Nutrition North Canada. Like previous food subsidy programs, Nutrition North has fallen short of meeting its objectives.

“We found that [The Ministry] has not verified whether the northern retailers pass on the full subsidy to consumers.” Auditor General, 2014

  • NNC does not subsidize hunting, fishing and harvesting equipment which creates systemic barriers for Inuit to cultivate our local food systems
  • Less than one per cent of the total NNC budget has contributed to increasing access to country food
    NNC preferentially supports imported, factory-farmed animal protein rather than locally harvested country food
  • NNC is based on a market-driven model that treats food as a commodity rather than a basic human right
  • NNC protects the interest of the retailers by not making public the terms of the agreement between the Government of Canada and northern businesses that benefit from the subsidy
  • NNC allows retailers to exercise arbitrary power over food pricing without checks and balances to ensure the full subsidy is passed on to consumers
  • NNC does not require that landed freight costs of food and the profit margin collected by retailers be made publicly available making it impossible to determine if the subsidy is passed on to consumers
  • NNC program structure is fragmented as it is administrated by different federal departments located in the south”