For Immediate Release
2019 Federal Election – Reducing food insecurity in Canada takes impact, not intent
On October 21st, 2019, the Liberal Party was re-elected for a second term in Canada, forming a minority federal government. In response to a questionnaire distributed by Food Secure Canada, the Liberal government stated that the party is “committed to addressing food security in Canada. We support developing and funding a national strategy to reduce food insecurity in Canada.”
Trudeau’s platform covers a number of actions which reflect the party’s commitment to working on food security at the federal level. These include working in partnership with community-based organizations, a focus on evidence-based decision-making, and budget increases to agricultural skills training. The party has promised to implement a food sovereignty approach, working in relationship with First Nations Communities across the country to address Indigenous priorities around food insecurity. The platform also incorporated several broader actions related to economic access to food for Canadians, including introducing the Canada Child Benefit, developing a National Housing Strategy, and increasing funding to Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement.
On June 17th, 2019, Trudeau’s government had released Canada’s first national Food Policy for Canada culminating from a series of consultations with organizations and communities across the country. A Food Policy for Canada would reflect food issues that matter to Canadians including but not limited to: improving food-related health outcomes, strong Indigenous food systems, and increasing connections within food systems and communities. The Food Policy for Canada would provide a guide for public, private, and non-profit sectors capacities to plan, collaborate, and improve food-related outcomes. Budget 2019 had committed $134 million in support of the food policy to include improvements in access to healthy food and supporting a sustainable food system that would work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
The commitments the Liberal Party has made to addressing food insecurity certainly appear promising. Their platform takes into consideration in some depth the ways in which food insecurity is rooted in much larger systems of oppression, which reflects our own values here at the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council (TYFPC). We understand that prioritizing Indigenous food sovereignty is an important and necessary change to our national approach to food insecurity. We value youth voices; a focus on agricultural skills training for young people is crucial in order to educate a new generation of farmers who can help us to change our food system from the inside out. We know that people with lived experience understand the strengths of their communities best; letting them lead the way allows us to develop meaningful responses. Finally, we believe that recognizing food insecurity as a direct result of systemic poverty is the only way we can begin to create real, sustainable solutions.
The Toronto Youth Food Policy is hopeful about the federal government’s commitment to reducing food insecurity. However, hope without critical reflection is naivety.
With a minority government in place, the Liberals will have to share decision-making power with the official opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada. The Conservatives’ lack of response to the Food Secure questionnaire speaks volumes about the party’s lack of interest in prioritizing the issue of food insecurity. This means that making progress on the Liberals’ commitments to increasing food security nationally will not be without significant roadblocks.
We must not forget the Liberal party’s track record of broken promises to Indigenous Peoples and Communities during their first term. The Liberal government’s commitments to reconciliation seems to reflect good intentions, but we must remember that it is impact, not intent, which matters.
The TYFPC is committed to building a more just food system; a significant part of our work is rooted in advocacy, in pushing for meaningful change to our food system at a macro-level. Over the next four years, it will be crucial for us – as council members, as citizens, as community members, and as treaty people – to hold a mirror up to power; to hold the federal government accountable to these commitments.