OTTAWA — Canada is not doing enough to ensure citizens have a “right” to food, according to Olivier De Schutter, UN right-to-food envoy.
After making an 11-day trip to Canada, visiting several cities and a reserve in Manitoba, De Schutter issued a report on Canada’s food situation.
The report stated that 800,000 families are “food insecure” and don’st have access to an adequate amount of nutritious and safe food. “We have a large number of Canadians who are unacceptably too poor to feed themselves decently,” he said.
Government officials expressed dismay at the report, and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney suggested De Schutter wasted his time coming to Canada. “It would be our hope that the contributions we make to the United Nations are used to help starving people in developing countries, not to give lectures to wealthy and developed countries like Canada. And, I think this is a discredit to the United Nations,” he said.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq also criticized De Schutter. “He’s ill-informed in that he doesn’st understand that Inuit continue to live off the land today,” she said.
Food Secure Canada, the National Farmers Union, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Centre for Science in the Public Interest are calling for a national food strategy, worried an ongoing decline in the number of farmers in Canada is impacting access to food. “Canada needs to make sure farmers have a viable income in growing food for Canadians,” Paul Slomp, youth spokesman for the National Farmers Union, told CBC News.