Canadian Northern Food Subsidy Drops Some Goods

The federal Nutrition North program subsidizes the cost of transporting some grocery items to remote northern communities. (CBC)Ice cream, bacon, garlic bread and bottled water are among the items that may get more expensive in Canada’s remote northern communities as they are no longer covered by a federal subsidy.

The Indian and Northern Affairs Department has posted a list of grocery products that are no longer subsidized under the former Food Mail program, rebranded as Nutrition North Canada in May.

The program aims to subsidize the costs of transporting grocery items to remote northern communities that are cut off from regular road and water access.

But as of Oct. 3, previously subsidized items such as processed cheese spreads, ice cream, side bacon, croissants and garlic bread, hydrogenated margarine and croissants are no longer eligible.

The changes aim in part to encourage healthy eating habits, said Leo Doyle, acting director of the Nutrition North program.

“We don’t need to be subsidizing [and] we don’t need to encourage the consumption of foods that aren’t particularly healthy,” Doyle told CBC News.

Other food still eligible

Staff with the NorthMart store in Iqaluit say shoppers can expect to pay around $1 more for bacon and perhaps even more for ice cream.

A number of other products, such as condiments, canned foods, coffees and teas, diapers, and dry pasta, will still be subsidized only for communities that don’t have marine access between Oct. 3 and March 31.

Under the 40-year-old Food Mail program, Canada Post flew up grocery items to remote northern communities, allowing stores in those communities to offer items at prices that are not prohibitively expensive.

Subsidies under Nutrition North will go directly to retailers and wholesalers, which will then be responsible for arranging transport for their products.

Doyle said that under the old program, the federal government used to cover things that weren’t even food, such as paper cups, plastic cutlery and snowmobile parts.

“What we heard is that we needed to target the resources that we had on the most nutritious foods,” he said.

But some Iqaluit NorthMart shoppers told CBC News this week they’re disappointed the new program will no longer subsidize the costs of essential items such as toilet paper and diapers.

CBC News

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