Getting food to the North

NDP MP Romeo Saganash and Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett say Nutrition North has failed, while John Duncan defends the program. Fred Hill and Michael Fitzgerald, who managed the previous Food Mail program, say Nutrition North is a poor substitute.

Though touted as a more efficient and market-driven approach with its streamlined (narrower) list of eligible foods scheduled to come into effect in October 2012, and with improved transparency and accountability, Nutrition North Canada seems to be perceived by most northerners as an unmitigated failure. Despite recent public protests throughout Nunavut and a barrage of criticism, including that of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who was treated so disrespectfully by Canadian ministers in May, the department has released no evidence that the promised reductions in food prices and improvements in quality have occurred, 15 months after it came into effect.

Six months before the new program was launched, the department abandoned its 21-year practice of conducting food price surveys in isolated northern communities and southern supply centres and publishing the cost of a healthy food basket. It therefore has no reliable independent evidence to contradict or support the public impression of program failure.

(In the link above, Mr. Duncan does claim some specific reductions in food prices.)