Canada's Action Plan for Food Security - (1998)

Canada's Action Plan for Food Security
Prime Minister's Message ..............................................................................................3
Minister's Message .........................................................................................................4
Executive Summary.......................................................................................................5

Part I: Understanding Food Security.........................................................................9
  Defining Food Security.............................................................................................9
  Parallels in Canadian and International Food Security.............................................9
  Canadian Perspective on Food Security..................................................................11

Part II: Domestic Actions ..........................................................................................12
  Commitment One: An Enabling Environment........................................................12
  Commitment Two: Access to Food.........................................................................14
  Commitment Three: Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Developme nt ..................21
  Commitment Four: Trade and Food Security .........................................................24
  Commitment Five: Emergenc y Prevention and Preparedness ................................26
  Commitment Six: Promoting Investment ................................................................28

Part III: International Actions .................................................................................30
  Commitment One: An Enabling Environment........................................................30
  Commitment Two: Access to Food.........................................................................32
  Commitment Three: Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development ..................34
  Commitment Four: Trade and Food Security .........................................................38
  Commitment Five: Emergenc y Prevention and Preparedness ................................40
  Commitment Six: Promoting Investment ................................................................43
  Commitment Seven: Implementation and Monitoring............................................45

Part IV: Conclusion...................................................................................................47
  Implementation and Monitoring of Canada's Action Plan for Food Security.........47

Appendix I: Members of the Joint Consultative Group ...............................................49
Appendix II: Acronyms and Abbreviations .................................................................59

Prime Minister's Message
We are blessed with a great country, endowed with immense natural resources, boundless
human potential and a long tradition of helping others, both within our country and with
our neighbours in the rest of the world. We work hard to improve our standard of living,
pursuing broad-based, equitable economic growth, protecting human rights and freedoms,
caring for our natural environment and striving to provide all Canadians with the
opportunity to realize their dreams.

Ensuring that all Canadians are food secure is an important element of that standard of
living we all cherish. This Plan is a significant step forward in developing a national
approach to address food insecurity in Canada and abroad. It builds on our longtime
involvement in international efforts which began with our participation in the founding of
the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization at Quebec City in 1945. Since
then, we have been an active member of the multilateral system, and we have worked
with and supported a wide variety of other international organizations, thousands of
community-based groups and Canadian voluntary organizations in a dedicated effort to
end hunger at home and abroad.

Canada's Action Plan for Food Security is a reflection of this experience. It is the result of
extensive consultations with our partners in Canada and abroad, and I am most grateful
for their contributions. Together with representatives from all levels of government in
Canada, they have crafted a road map for the Canadian contribution to the World Food
Summit target of reducing by half the number of undernourished people no later than the
year 2015 and to eventual food security for all.

Over 50 years ago, Canada pledged itself to a world that was free from hunger, free from
want, with enough food for all. This Action Plan is a symbol of our dedication to that
commitment, and to the people of the world. I invite all of our partners around the world
to join us in ending hunger and achieving food security for all.

The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada

Minister’s Message

Over 800 million human beings do not have enough to eat in a world that produces
enough food to feed every man, woman and child. This exceptional paradox - global food
security alongside individual food insecurity - has galvanized the collective conscience of
the world community. At the World Food Summit in Rome in November 1996, Canada
joined 186 other nations to endorse the Summit's goal - to reduce the number of
undernourished people by half no later than the year 2015.
The world food situation has been improving steadily since the founding of the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization over 50 years ago. Production has risen, food
prices have dropped and a greater proportion of the world's people have gained secure
access to food. Despite this progress, the conundrum remains: far too many people are
undernourished, their health impaired, their potential blighted, their lives a daily struggle
for survival.
Canada shares this paradox. As a major exporter of food and rela ted products and
expertise, and as one of the world's largest donors of food aid, Canada has made some
very valuable contributions to world food security. At the same time, we must recognize
that we are not immune to the problem of food insecurity in our country. There are
vulnerable people in Canada who are unable to meet their food needs without
compromising other basic needs.
But there is hope. The experience of the last five decades has taught us many things about
the nature of food insecurity and many of those lessons have been incorporated into the
Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action.
Canada's Action Plan for Food Security is based on those lessons. It is also based on the
shared responsibility of all stakeholders involved in achieving food security: the federal,
provincial, territorial and municipal governments, civil society organizations and
institutions, the private sector, and ultimately, each and every individual.
Canada's Action Plan for Food Security is the result of extensive consultations between
and among these stakeholders and represents a multisectoral consensus. Canadian
voluntary and community organizations have played an important role in this process.
We are committed to ensuring Canada's follow-up to the World Food Summit, beginning
with this Plan of Action for the Government of Canada. We would like to thank all those
who have collaborated in this important initiative.
We also wish to thank them for helping us all to keep in mind who this Pla n is for: the
communities and people of Canada, the people in countries in transition, and the people
in developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable.

The Honourable Lyle Vanclief
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister responsible for Canada's follow-upto The
World Food Summit
The Honourable Diane Marleau
Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for La Francophonie

Executive Summary

Canada's Action Plan for Food Security is Canada's response to the World Food Summit
(WFS) commitment made by the international community to reduce by half the number
of undernourished people no later than the year 2015. It builds on a wide range of
existing international commitments which affect food security, including agreements on
international trade and environmental issues, conventions on human rights (including
women's and children's rights), social development, education, housing and urban
development. In addition, it builds on commitments and actions which flow from current
domestic programs such as Canada's own Nutrition for Health: An Agenda for Action;
Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan; revisions to legislation, including
the Fisheries Act; and Canada's evolving economic, social and environmental programs
and policies.

This Plan is the work of a Joint Consultative Group (JCG) composed of both government
and civil society(1) representatives (see Appendix I for membership). During the drafting
discussions, it became apparent to the JCG that it was dealing with a wide range of
issues, many of which are complex and interconnected. To assist the reader in an initial
understanding of how food security was perceived during these discussions, Part I, a
short introductory section ent itled "Understanding Food Security", has been developed. It
is not meant to be comprehensive, nor does it pretend to be conclusive; it is simply a
frame of reference for the actions which follow.

The structure of this document is based on the WFS Plan of Action endorsed by 187
countries at the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996. The WFS Plan of Action contains
seven commitments, which also form the backbone of this document. Part II outlines
Canada's plan for actions in the domestic environment, and Part III outlines Canada's plan
for actions in the international environment as a donor to developing countries and
countries in transition; as a member of the multilateral community; and as a trading
nation. Each action is followed by a list of the main implementing organizations in
parentheses. Lastly, Part IV details Canada's approach to the implementation and
monitoring of its Action Plan.

In the context of Canada's obligations related to the goal of the WFS, this Plan presents
the Canadian perspective on the complex issue of food security, and then sets out the
actions themselves within the broad context of current challenges. It recognizes that food
security implies access to adequate food and sufficient food supplies. Poverty reduction,
social justice and sustainable food systems are essential conditions.

The Plan acknowledges the important role that civil society plays in contributing to food
security and recognizes the achievements of the academic community and private sector
in expanding production and improving access to food since the global effort to end
hunger began in earnest some 50 years ago. Information sharing, partnerships and
intersectoral cooperation play a key role in Canada's approach.

The Plan is a work in progress which forms a basis for further discussions on the
specifics of implementation, including timing, roles and responsibilities, coordination
mechanisms and related actions. It is open-ended and flexible, adaptable to changing
conditions and responsive to evolving needs. It is not an exhaustive inventory of existing
programs or planned actions; rather, it is a blueprint which sets out the highest priorities
as identified by members of the JCG. These priorities are outlined below. The order in
which they appear does not reflect an order of importance but rather follows the order of
the seven commitments.

Priority 1: The right to food reiterates Canada's belief that this right is an important
element in food security and underscores the need to better define the meaning of this
right, and the actions required to implement it. Actions include civil society support to the
International Code of Conduct on the Human Right to Adequate Food, and all sector
participation in national and international efforts to clarify the meaning of the right to
food towards its full and progressive realization.

Priority 2: The reduction of poverty is an important element in the strategy for
addressing food insecurity in both domestic and international actions, based on the notion
that a key condition for food security is access to sufficient resources to purchase or grow
food. International actions are influenced by Canada's poverty reduction focus in its
development assistance program; actions include maintaining or exceeding the 25%
Official Development Assistance (ODA) target for investments in basic human needs
such as food and nutrition, education and primary health care. The Plan also reaffirms
Canada's commitment to engaging citizens in policy making and program design in the
area of poverty reduction.

Priority 3: Promotion of access to safe and nutritious food is seen as a critical
component of food security. In developing countries, actions on micronutrient and
vitamin supplementation of foods contribute to improved nutrition. Breastfeeding is also
highlighted as critical to infant health and nutrition worldwide. In Canada, commitment
to this is furthered through actions to support working mothers, hospital programs,
mother and child health care and other initiatives in support of the International Code of
Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Beyond the promotion and protection of
breastfeeding and other food security conditions, caring practices, and health and
education measures are important for the nutrition security of mothers and children,
particularly, but not only, in developing countries.

Priority 4: Food safety underlines the new threats to global food supply posed by the
rapid increase and deep market penetration of new and exotic foods from a variety of
trading partners, which may constitute a safety or disease hazard; by environmental
contaminants, especially in traditional food sources in Canada's Far North, which are also
a threat to safety; and emergencies or disasters, which can cause problems such as
contamination from hazardous chemicals or disease-causing micro-organisms. In
addition, lack of knowledge about preparation and storage of foods is identified as a
threat, mainly at the household level. Actions to ensure safe supplies and safe handling

include enhanced public education, better product labeling, enhanced biotechnology
assessment, improved monitoring methods and stronger multisectoral partnerships.

Priority 5: Traditional food acquisition methods of Aboriginal and coastal
communities acknowledge the important role that hunting, fishing, gathering, bartering
and trading play in the food security of many communities in Canada and abroad. By
sharing their awareness of traditional foods and their knowledge of sustainable natural
resource practices, indigenous people have an important contribution to make in
achieving the World Food Summit's goal. Actions related to the reduction of
environmental contaminants, sustainable management of resources (including fisheries)
and appropriate supplementation with high-quality commercial foods, strengthen access
to food for these communities.

Priority 6: Food production emphasizes the critical role of research, rural development
and investment in the productivity of the agriculture and agri- food sector. This priority
makes a strong link between the sustainable management of productive resources and the
production of sufficient quantities of safe and nutritious food for all. It demonstrates the
need to support local production, particularly in developing countries, where agrarian
reform, participation of affected communities (including women producers) and
fulfilment of basic human needs are essential to successful rural development programs.
In Canada, actions aimed at enhancing agricultural production include: supporting
sustainable resource management, continuing to invest in and build research capacity and
encouraging investment in rural areas.

Priority 7: Emphasis on environmentally sustainable practices explores some of the
most pressing challenges to food production. Canada's actions in support of this priority
are channeled through its support to a wide variety of commitments under current
international agreements. Internationally, this covers specific challenges to developing
countries in such areas as water resource management, community forestry, sustainable
population growth and respect and preservation of indigenous knowledge. For Canada,
additional actions complement these agreements to enhance stewardship of natural
resources in the areas of northern contaminants, sustainable fisheries management,
biotechnology, climate change and biodiversity.

Priority 8: Fair trade outlines the potential impact of liberalized trade regimes on
incomes and overall welfare, and indicates the possibility that there may be adjustment
costs in non-competitive sectors. Actions within this priority involve enhancing trade in
the food and agri- food sectors, particularly for developing countries, while achieving a
better understanding of the impacts of liberalized trade on people vulnerable to food

Priority 9: Acknowledgement of peace as a precursor to food security underlines the
need for safe and secure access to means of production, especially arable land and
harvestable waters. Actions within this priority strengthen emergency measures, conflict
prevention, peacebuilding and disaster preparedness in Canada and abroad.

Priority 10: A monitoring system for food insecurity identifies the need for a
comprehensive set of agreed-upon indicators to determine the nature, extent and
evolution of food insecurity, both to develop appropriate responses and to monitor their
effectiveness. This Plan provides for both government and civil society to work toward
developing indicators for national and international systems and using them for
monitoring purposes.

For the purpose of this document, "civil society" refers to organizations and associations of people, formed
for social or political purposes that are not created or mandated by governments. Included are non-
governmental organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, churches, grass-roots organizations, academic
institutions, and business associations.

Part I: Understanding Food Security
Defining Food Security

Today, on a global basis, the world produces enough food to feed everyone. However,
there are countries, regions within countries, villages within regions, households within
villages, and individuals within households that are not able to meet their food needs. In
1996, countries at the World Food Summit agreed that:

'Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an
active and healthy life.'

Food security requires anavailable and reliable food supply at all times. At the global and
regional levels, the food supply can be affected by variations in the macroeconomic
environment and regional climatic phenomena, while at the national level, interruptions,
such as natural disasters or civil strife, can seriously disrupt food production, orderly
marketing and the stability of the food supply. At the community and household level,
poverty or gender inequality can influence the distribution and allocation of food
affecting individual food security even when the food supply is adequate.

Whether people grow their own food or buy it, their food security is essentially a matter
of their access to food. The route to that access may be a dependable source of income or
it may be the ability to acquire food through production. A dependable source of income
is determined by access to a wide range of factors such as: job or business opportunities;
health, education and other characteristics which increase employability and productivity;
or the wherewithal to engage in barter or other acquisition methods. Production of food
supplies for domestic consumption also depends on access to a mix of factors, including:
natural resources, such as land; credit and agricultural inputs; health, education and
training for the producer; social and political peace; and so on. When these routes to
access are blocked, people are often forced to rely on social support programs.

Individuals and households must have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food both
in quantity and quality to meet their daily dietary requirements for a healthy and
productive life. Food must also be culturally acceptable. For food security to be translated
into adequate nutrition, people must also have access to adequate health services and to a
healthy and safe environment, inc luding a safe water supply, and they must have the
capacity to provide appropriate caring practices for themselves and for the more
vulnerable people in their family and their community.

Parallels in Canadian and International Food Security

Food security is multifaceted and is broader than being free from hunger. Food insecurity
can be manifested in many ways. It can be temporary or chronic and its severity can vary

with age, status, gender, income, geographic location, ethnic or national affiliation and a
host of other factors. In every country, regardless of its wealth or level of poverty, people
can be food insecure.

Despite immense differences in per capita incomes, standards of living, resource
endowments and many other characteristics which separate countries - whether they are
developing, industrialized or in transition from a planned to a market economy - many of
the same basic dynamics are at work to create food insecurity. In examining Canada's
Action Plan, it becomes apparent that there are important parallels between Canada's
domestic and international food security concerns, although strategies to resolve them
may vary between countries and regions.

The notion of access to food as a basic human right is important for many people in the
mobilization of political will, multi-sectoral commitment and public support.

The question of access also revolves around issues of poverty and social justice. It is the
poorest and most vulnerable members of society - the people with no voice - who are the
most likely to be food insecure and the most powerless to change their circumstances. All
countries must make special efforts to reach these populations, but efforts to improve
their situations must be sustainable. "Band-aid" measures, whether they be food banks or
emergency food aid, only provide temporary relief. Enduring solutions involve
empowering the food- insecure to help themselves.

Degradation of the natural resource base - land, water, air and genetic resources - impacts
on the availability of food for everyone. The impact of unsustainable natural resource and
land use practices by all sectors can be compounded by cross-border and long-term
environmental threats, such as air and water pollution and climate change.

Each country must implement agricultural and rural development policies and encourage
appropriate investment to support those communities and people in food producing areas.

Canadian Perspective on Food Security

Part II: Domestic Actions
Commitment One: An Enabling Environment

       'We will ensure an enabling political, social and economic environment
       designed to create the best conditions for the eradication of poverty and
       for durable peace, based on full and equal participation of women and
       men, which is most conducive to achieving sustainable food security for
                                                      World Food Summit

Good Governance

Canadians are fortunate to live in a country where peace, democracy and human rights
are generally enjoyed and respected. Mechanisms have been established to ensure
protection of civil and human rights, and a strong and independent mass media facilitates
free discussion of public issues.

The national social safety net of income support, essential social services and human
resource development helps people to meet their basic needs and provides them with
opportunities to improve their circumstances. Careful economic stewardship provides the
government with the necessary resources to support these programs while facilitating
general economic growth.

Canada's traditional values of broad-based economic growth and social justice are
essential underpinnings for food security. These values have an important role to play in
current restructuring and reform initiatives, such as those associated with Setting the
Stage for the Next Century: The Federal Plan for Gender Equality. Through this Plan, the
federal government is performing a gender-based analysis of federal policies and
legislation, which will help remove barriers and take women's gender-based concerns
into account in a wide range of areas, including those which impact on food security.

Civil society plays an important role in social, political and economic reform, through
public education, advocacy and participation in public policy formulation. The efforts of
civil society, together with information and awareness-raising programs by all levels of
government, are essential in ensuring public engagement on issues related to food

Participation: an essential ingredient in attaining    Civil society-business partnerships
food security
                                                       The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and
The Government of Canada is implementing               Rural Affairs has acted as an intermediary in
Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal Action         helping to bring together the organizers of
Plan. It is working with Aboriginal organizations      FoodShare Metro Toronto with representatives of
and communities to develop effective, legitimate       the agriculture and food sectors in Ontario, to
and accountable Aboriginal self-government and         discuss ways to enhance food security in Ontario.
increase their participation in the design and         This approach has received the support of other civil
delivery of programs affecting their lives and         society and industry groups and may set the stage
communities. This includes initiatives for improving   for discussion and creation of new partnerships
community infrastructure on reserves, research and
development in health and safety issues and access
to safe traditional foods.


Undertake a major increase in efforts to educate Canadians about food security issues
and to support initiatives geared toward enhanced involvement of citizens in achieving
community food security. (All partners)

Encourage dialogue on food security issues that will translate to policy reflection and
change, based on public education, sound research and open and participatory
governance, in order to engage all sectors of the population and ensure that the needs
and priorities of all are represented. (All partners)

The Right to Food

The right to food was identified as an important element for food security at the World
Food Summit. Internationally, the concept and its implications are still being defined and
Canada is part of that process. Civil society feels that there is much that can be done in
Canada to clarify its meaning and determine how to respect, protect and fulfill that right.
Public education and awareness will play an important role in this process. This will help
define the roles and responsibilities of governments, human rights bodies, civil society
organizations and individuals in implementing the right to food.


Contribute to clarifying the content of the right to adequate food, as stated in the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (Federal government,
civil society)

Engage in domestic campaigns to promote the right to adequate food and the
International Code of Conduct on the Human Right to Adequate Food. (Civil society)

Commitment Two: Access to Food

       'We will implement policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality
       and improving physical and economic access by all, at all times, to
       sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food and its effective

                                                     World Food Summit

Poverty and Food Insecurity

The vast majority of Canadians are food secure; however, some groups of people may be
more at risk to food insecurity than others, as shown in a number of studies on food bank
use, poverty and dietary intake. While certain studies have identified a level of
vulnerability, they do not provide an accurate and comprehensive national measure of
food insecurity.

What is known is that poverty is one of several factors which impede access to sufficient,
safe and nutritious foods. There are vulnerable people with low incomes who cannot meet
their food requirements without compromising other basic needs, such as shelter. Those
groups most likely to be affected by low incomes in Canada include Aboriginal people,
single mothers and their children, persons with disabilities, recent immigrants and those
who have not completed high school.

Vulnerability to food insecurity exists when people find themselves without a secure or
adequate income, are unemployed, or have limited education. This can be compounded
by difficulties in accessing appropriate social services, particularly among the aged and
people with physical or mental disabilities, or with acute or chronic illness. This is
especially true for the homeless or socially isolated who are more difficult to reach.

Canada's social programs, which are administered by all levels of government, are
designed to provide income support, help vulnerable people fulfill their basic needs, and
provide a basic level of services, such as health care, to all Canadians. In recent years,
governments' efforts to reduce their debts and improve their financial situations have
obliged them to re-examine programs and better target vulnerable groups. While growth
has returned to the Canadian economy, there are still some people who are significantly
poorer than others. In order to help the m, governments must follow a balanced approach
of social investments and prudent financial management.

This restructuring has direct implications for poverty reduction and social justice, and, by
extension, for food security. Continuing to help Canadians in this regard means ensuring
adequate social investments, facilitating the effective use of limited resources and
engaging all concerned, especially the most vulnerable, in the decision- making process.
A key challenge is to ensure that all Canadians have access to essential services no matter
where they live in Canada.

In 1981, Canadian charities began setting up food banks as a temporary measure to help
people deal with emergencies. From 1989 to 1997, the use of food banks in Canada
doubled. The pressure on food banks to deliver other kinds of social services has also
increased well beyond their capacity to deal with them. Other services, run mainly by
civil society organizations, occasionally with support from provincial/territorial or
municipal governments, include community kitchens and gardens, food-buying clubs,
and school-based breakfast and lunch programs. These services were also never intended
to be long-term solutions, and food banks and other community-based initiatives are now
looking to the larger environment for answers.

A recent study on poverty in Canada                       Food security in Quebec

Canada's National Council of Welfare (NCW)                In order to address social inequality and poverty, the
released a poverty profile in the spring of 1998.         Ministry of Health and Social Services of Quebec,
Based on Low Income Cut-Offs (LICOs)*, the                together with the regional boards, is planning to
profile painted a picture of increasing poverty for       implement a set of strategies and actions that
some sections of the population, despite general          contribute to the accessibility of sufficient,
economic recovery. Incomes of the poorest 20% of          nourishing, acceptable and reasonably priced food
Canadians dropped in the 1995-96 period.                  to the population of Quebec, at all times and in full
                                                          respect of their dignity. These actions and strategies
The NCW found that in 1996, the "national poverty         go beyond emergency food assistance and
rate" was 17.6%, rising from 17.4% in 1995 and            contribute to the social development of a
from 13.6% in 1989. The hardest hit were single-          community, by supporting the development of
parent families in women-headed households with           autonomy, the responsibility of persons and the
children under the age of 18. 61.4% of this group         promotion of a new solidarity that enables people to
fell below the NCW poverty line. Within this group,       improve their living conditions.
those most affected were single mothers under the
age of 25, of which 91.3% fell below the line. The        Financial support is given to each region to
percentage of Canadian children who slipped below         encourage the development of pilot projects, such as
the NCW poverty line increased from 20.5% in              collective kitchens, food cooperatives, and food
1995 to 20.9% in 1996.                                    buying groups with farmers and others. In addition,
                                                          a research project evaluating the impact of these
* Although Statistics Canada's low income cut-offs        recent interventions in food security is also under
are commonly referred to as official poverty lines,       way.
they have no officially recognized status nor does
Statistics Canada promote their use as poverty lines.
Not all individuals and families below this statistical
level are food insecure.

Source: Poverty Profile 1996: A Report by the
National Council of Welfare, Spring, 1998

Food banks - an indicator of food insecurity

The use of food banks in Canada has roughly doubled in the last decade, according to the
Canadian Association of Food Banks*. A recent study released in 1998 by the University
of Toronto** investigated the food security and nutritional vulnerability of a subgroup of
food bank users in Toronto, women with children. The study found that the household
incomes of 90% of the women participating in the study were less than 2/3 of Statistics
Canada's Low-Income Cut-Offs (LICOs). Over 93% of respondents reported some degree

of food insecurity over the past year, despite their efforts to supplement their food
supplies by occasional use of food banks or to increase their disposable income by
discontinuing telephone services or delaying bill payments. In addition to their own
hunger, more than 25% of the women also reported that their children had gone hungry
during the previous month. Further, a significant proportion of the women appeared to
have very low dietary intakes of iron, ma gnesium, vitamin A, folate, protein or zinc.

* Hunger Count 1997, Canadian Association of Food Banks
** funded by Health Canada through the National Health Research and Development


Include the participation of civil society in the current evolution of Canada's social
security system. (All levels of government)

In partnership with the provinces and territories, help prevent and reduce the depth of
child poverty and promote attachment to the work force through the National Child
Benefit System, an initiative that involves improved income benefits, programs and
services to families. (HRDC, provincial and territorial departments responsible for social

Increase opportunities for labour force participation of persons with disabilities and
Aboriginal people. (HRDC)

Through all provinces and territories, increase the employability of young people
through targeted scholarships and job creation programs. (All partners)

Access to Safe and Nutritious Food

In Canada, the food supply provides safe and nutritious food at both the retail and food
service levels. Systems are in place to ensure that policies governing food production,
composition (including addition of vitamins and minerals), preparation and labeling
promote the availability of safe foods that can support healthy eating to maintain and
improve the health of Canadians.

Globalization of trade and new technologies have given consumers more choices for their
food baskets and has introduced them to new and exotic foods; however, the safety of
food imports requires monitoring. Emerging food-borne pathogens have also become
concerns and require vigilance. High levels of contaminants are threatening the safety of
some traditional Aboriginal food sources, particularly in the Arctic region. This situation
has potentially serious consequences for Inuit communities.

New technologies in food production and processing, such as biotechnology, have health
and safety implications and undergo continuous evaluation. Systems are in place to assess
the safety of food produced by new technologies. Public apprehensions about the use of

biotechnology in food production, including issues of product safety, quality and choice,
need to be addressed through a variety of approaches, including active dialogue with


Maintain high standards of food safety and nutrition, taking into consideration new
technologies of food processing and production such as biotechnology and genetic
engineering. (HC, CFIA)

Support food safety education initiatives through multi-sectoral partnerships, such as the
Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education. (HC, CFIA, private sector,
civil society, including consumer organizations)

Conduct appropriate surveillance programs to assess the need for new standards or risk
management activities. (HC)

Ensure the safety of domestic foods and imports and invest in the development of new
methodologies, both to detect and monitor food-borne pathogens and chemical
contaminants and to reduce contamination of foods during production or processing.

Review the findings of the Canadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Report (CACAR) in
relation to threats to Inuit traditional food sources and find ways to implement the
recommendations. (Aboriginal communities and organizations, federal, provincial and
territorial governments, the academic community and the private sector, i.e., natural
resource industries).

Reinforcing Healthy Eating Practices

The Canadian food supply can provide foods with nutritional characteristics that support
healthy eating. An environment also needs to be created to enable Canadians - whether in
households, institutions, or private sector venues, such as stores and restaurants - to make
informed choices for healthy eating. A key strategy in Canada's national nutrition plan
(see box) to strengthen healthy eating practices involves: community-based services that
include nutrition; schools that provide age-appropriate nutrition education; programs that
emphasize practical skill development in reinforcing positive food choices; media and
advertising which disseminate consistent, accurate messages; and food that is labeled to
facilitate knowledgeable choice.

One of the key actions identified in Canada's nutrition plan is the promotion and
protection of breastfeeding. Additional measures need to be taken to support the right of
women to breastfeed and the right of infants to be breastfed. For the majority of infants,
breastfeeding is the most important guarantee of food security. It ensures a safe, secure
and nutritionally complete food source. Active support from all sectors of society will
increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, will lead to more public institutions

being recognized as baby- friendly and will improve the food security, nutrition, health
and development of our infants. Currently in Canada, governments and other partners are
working to implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes
(see page 33 for details) with a focus on education and he alth promotion.

Nutrition for Health: An Agenda for Action (1996)

Canada's nutrition plan identifies four strategies to promote health: reinforcing healthy eating practices,
supporting nutritionally vulnerable populations, enhancing the availability of foods that support healthy
eating, and supporting nutrition research. Some of its key actions relevant to food security include working
with social policy decision makers to address the needs of vulnerable people, developing a data base to
better define the vulnerable populations and to better understand their food and nutrition issues, monitoring
the cost of a nutritious food basket and using this information in the development of education programs
and income support initiatives, and collaborating intersectorally to ensure food safety.


Implement actions in Nutrition for Health: An           Breastfeeding Initiatives
Agenda for Action (1996), including:
                                                        Through the Baby-Friendly Initiative, hospitals and
    •    work to include and maintain nutrition         maternity services adopt practices which protect
         services as part of comprehensive health       breastfeeding, educate pregnant and lactating
         services in both existing and evolving         women about the benefits of breastfeeding, train
         community-based and home-care settings;        health staff to protect and support the practice, and
    •    improve the usefulness of nutrition            refer mothers to support groups as part of normal
         labeling, increase its availability and        hospital routine. The Government of New
         broaden public education on its use;           Brunswick has embarked on a major program
    •    work with the food services sector and         promoting breastfeeding in the public education
         publicly funded organizations such as          system and strongly emphasizes it in the curriculum
         schools, hospitals and government              for all health professionals and health-related
         agencies to promote the increased              organizations. These and other supportive practices
         availability of foods that support healthy     are promoted by the Breastfeeding Committee for
         eating. (All levels of government, civil       Canada (BCC), a broad coalition of representatives
         society, private sector)                       of national health and professional associations,
                                                        individuals and experts. The BCC aims to establish
                                                        breastfeeding as the cultural norm for infant feeding
                                                        in Canada.

Implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast- milk Substitutes. (All levels of
government, private sector, civil society and coalitions, e.g., the BCC)

Support the implementation of the WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
(BFHI)/Baby-Friend ly Initiative (BFI) in Canada, toward creating a global breastfeeding-
friendly environment. (All levels of government, private sector, civil society and
coalitions, e.g., the BCC)

Work toward employment conditions for women that are supportive of breastfeeding.
(All levels of government, private sector, civil society and coalitions, e.g., the BCC)

Traditional Food Acquisition by Aboriginal Communities

Many Aboriginal people in Canada, particularly in remote communities, experience all or
most aspects of food insecurity due to low incomes, safety risks due to pollutants in the
traditional food supply, quality problems associated with inappropriate shipping,
handling and home preparation of commercial foods, and disruptions to access caused by
interruptions in shipping or changes in animal migratory patterns. The cost of commercial
food is high, as is the cost of supplies for fishing and hunting.

The transition from a hunter- gatherer society to a cash-based society presents unique
challenges to Aboriginal communities. More and more Aboriginal people are turning to
commercial foods, which are more expensive and not always as nutrient-dense as
traditional foods. A greater understanding of a range of issues - the role of commercial
versus traditional foods, acquisition practices (which may include hunting, fishing and
gathering, trade, barter and sharing), the contribution of traditional foods to health, and
measures required to ensure the sustainable, safe use of food resources - is necessary for
the food security and ultimately to the underlying values of many Aboriginal
communities. The challenge in achieving food security is to wisely manage this changing
food system in such a way as to reap the benefits from the best of both the traditional and
the commercial food systems.


Explore ways to share information regarding access issues for traditional and
commercial food supplies, to identify gaps in information needed by key partners and to
make linkages with work under way. (Aboriginal communities and organizations, federal,
provincial and territorial governments, academic community, private sector, e.g. natural
resource industries)

Work together to build the dimension of food security and traditional food access into
existing policies and activities that affect traditional food acquisition; for example, the
promotion of food security in sustainable development activities and health promotion.
(DIAND and its partners)

Fulfill commitments that are related to the safety and acquisition of traditional foods
identified in current federal initiatives, such as Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal
Action Plan and the Sustainable Development Strategies of the Department of Indian
Affairs and Northern Development and Health Canada. (DIAND, HC and their partners)

Continue to encourage Aboriginal participation in the fishery sector through the
Allocation Transfer Program (ATP), a component of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy
(AFS), which facilitates the voluntary retirement of commercial licences and issues new
ones to eligible Aboriginal groups and organizations in a manner that does not add to the
existing effort on the resource. (DFO).

Monitoring System for Food Insecurity

In Canada, estimates of the nature, extent, distribution and evolution of food insecurity
are extremely varied and there is no broad consensus around them. It is therefore difficult
to gain the necessary support for clear actions. There is a need for a common
understanding of the issues and an agreed-upon set of indicators for food insecurity.
Many individual indicators now exist but they measure different facets of the problem
rather than giving a comprehensive national picture. This is an excellent example of an
area where intersectoral cooperation can result in a recognized and valid tool that is
generally accepted and can be used to monitor the situation. The results of such
monitoring and their regular publication would provide solid information to guide food
security actions in both policy and programming. They would also enhance pub lic
awareness of the issue.

Causes and consequences of food insecurity in Canada: One organization's

There are a number of studies under way which contribute to understanding food
insecurity in Canada. For example, the department of Human Resources Development
Canada has devised a model that examines the relationships among conditions of food
insecurity, nutrition insecurity and food poverty. It also looks at those at risk of such
conditions and the consequences for them.

The survey will stud y the severity and duration of concern that households experience
worrying about lack of food, compromising quality and eating insufficient quantity.
Information to determine the causes of food insecurity, and to determine periodicity and
coping strategies, will also be collected. Results are expected in the year 2000.

Source: Lack of Food Security in Canada, Applied Research Branch, Human Resources
Development Canada.


Agree upon a set of domestic food insecurity indicators that can be used to assess the
extent and distribution of food insecurity across the country. (Federal, provincial and
territorial governments, civil society)

Establish a baseline of information on food insecurity indicators, including indicators of
nutritional status; provide ongoing monitoring; and ensure resulting information is
published regularly, incorporated into future policy and programming, and contributes to
international monitoring efforts. (Federal, provincial and territorial governments, civil

The nutritious food basket

What does it cost to feed a family with food that is nutritious, acceptable and sufficient in quantity? This
question is being examined by a number of provinces and territories across the country. For example, the
government of Ontario's Ministry of Health revised its mandatory program guidelines for public health in
1997 to include annual monitoring of this expense. It now uses the information to promote and support
policy development to increase access to healthy foods. In another example, the federal government has
recently developed Alternative Northern Food Baskets that are useful in monitoring food costs in northern
Aboriginal communities. The nutritious food basket concept provides a useful indicator that can go a long
way toward monitoring of food insecurity conditions in communities across the country.

Commitment Three: Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development

         'We will pursue participatory and sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries,
         forestry and rural development policies and practices in high and low
         potential areas, which are essential to adequate and reliable food supplies
         at the household, national, regional and global levels, and combat pests,
         drought and desertification, considering the multifunctional character of

                                                                        World Food Summit

As one of the world's major food producers and exporters, Canada has a well-organized
food and agricultural system. The food supply is safe, stable and abundant, it is available
at affordable prices in most parts of the country, and its quality is very high. In part, this
is due to Canada's resource base: abundant supplies of freshwater, forests, arable land,
marine resources, minerals and sources of energy. In part, it is due to Canada's productive
and efficient agriculture and agri- food sectors, which have traditionally played a critical
role in Canada's economic prosperity. Canadians are world leaders in agricultural
research and development, with recognized expertise in areas such as sustainable farming
practices, cooperatives, biotechnology and sustainable forest management.

Like other sectors in the economy, the agriculture and agri- food sector has undergone
major changes over the last decade. Industry rationalization and technological innovation
in the food production and processing sectors have increased productivity, albeit with
newer and larger plants with fewer employees.

One of the key challenges in maintaining and increasing agricultural production in
Canada is to develop new technologies which protect the resource base and enhance
long-term competitiveness through value-added production. Research and development is
a multi-stakeholder activity involving government and civil society, including academics,
the agri- food industry, voluntary and community-based organizations. The current focus
in research includes protecting environmental health, identifying foreign pest threats,
controlling domestic crop problems, and contributing to the safety of food.

In addition, continuing environmental challenges must be addressed if the resource base
is to maintain its long-term viability and to achieve the goal of sustainable food

Among these challenges are: conservation of soil resources; improvement of surface and
groundwater quality; water quantity management; sustainable management of wildlife
habitat, assurance of air quality; mitigation of and adaptation to climate change; energy
efficiency; conservation of genetic resources; marine and coastal management; and
management of pollution and waste. As a signatory to a wide range of international
agreements on environmental matters, Canada has ongoing programming at all levels of
government in agriculture, fishing, forestry, oceans management, pollution prevention,
conservation of biodiversity, risk reduction, combating desertification, climate change
and many other areas.

For example, Canada is working toward a better understanding of the impact of climate
change on food production to develop mitigation and adaptation measures for food
producers. The agriculture and agri- food sector, like all parts of Canadian society, must
also respond to the challenge of Canada's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to
lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Current efforts to identify and apply methods to
not only reduce agricultural GHG emissions, but also to increase the capacity of
agricultural soils to store carbon dioxide, are being accelerated. Work is also under way
to explore the possibilities of treating forests as a means of carbon sequestration and

Protecting the land in New Brunswick                     Joint Stewardship: managing Canada's natural
The Government of New Brunswick has created an
Agricultural Land Protection and Development Act         Environmental sustainability and self-reliance for
in response to concerns by New Brunswick farmers.        Canada's domestic fishing fleet are being pursued
The Act's purpose is to protect agricultural             through a policy and management shift toward co-
operations and land now in use or deemed suitable        management between government fisheries
for future agricultural production. Farmers will         managers and fisheries stakeholders. This involves
continue to play a role in land use issues; under the    training for fish harvesters toward conservation
Act, farmers are part of the land-use planning           harvesting, responsible fishing, co-management and
process.                                                 sustainability.

The Act's long-term goal is to retain agricultural       For First Nations communities, fisheries co-
land for future generations. As an incentive, owners     management arrangements are being extended to
who register their land will receive a deferral of       enhance access to nearby land and resource
property taxes. Provisions for protection of the land    opportunities, including commercial fishing.
include the preparation of regulations specifying
permitted land uses on such properties and               Economic self-sufficiency for First Nations is also
restricting encroachment by non-agricultural uses        being supported through the First Nations Forestry
on adjacent land. A system of public notification of     Program. In a similar vein, the Model Forest
protected land will be established using the Internet.   Program enhances opportunities for Aboriginal
                                                         people to demonstrate approaches to sustainable
                                                         forest management that are based on Aboriginal
                                                         values, beliefs and traditions.

Another key challenge in maintaining production is to ensure the safety of our natural
resources. The federal government aims for the virtual elimination of the most dangerous
toxic substances from the environment and the development of more efficient processes
to identify, screen, assess and manage toxic substances. Multisectoral cooperation is
important in this effort. An example of this cooperation is the voluntary, non-regulatory
initiative called Accelerated Reduction/Elimination of Toxics (ARET), which was
developed by stakeholders from industry, health professional associations and


Participate in the FAO Global System for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and
Agriculture, and in this context implement the Global Plan of Action on the Conservation
and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. (AAFC)

Implement the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy which includes strategic directions aimed
at the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in agricultural areas and
which other partners are using as a guide for action. (Federal, provincial and territorial
governments, civil society)

Take all appropriate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (All partners)

Ensure stable sustainable fisheries, in cooperation with fish harvesters' organizations, by
bringing fishing fleets into balance with existing resources through fisheries management
measures (such as individual quotas), buy-backs, stock enhancement measures, etc.
(DFO, civil society)

Implement the Canadian Fisheries Adjustment and Restructuring Program (CFAR)
which will reduce ground fish harvesting capacity, thereby enhancing resource
sustainability and will assist participants in adjusting into other economic sectors. (DFO)

Implement the new Strategies for Environmentally Sustainable Development as required
by the revisions to the Auditor General's Act. (Federal government departments, civil

Implement effective, sound chemical management measures using the precautionary
approach combined with pollution prevention, legislative/administrative controls
supported by research and development. (EC, DFAIT, NRCan, HC/PMRA)

Implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/FAO Rotterdam
Convention on Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and
Pesticides in International Trade through adoption or amendment of national legislative
measures (EC, HC)

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