Sealifted goods, tampons added to Canada’s Nutrition North subsidy program

Eleven items that are typically sent to communities by winter road, barge or sealift will now be subsidized at $1 per kilogram. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)
Nutrition North will begin subsidizing non-perishable food items and products like diapers when they are shipped via sealift to remote communities.

Until now, those items only had the Nutrition North subsidies applied when they were flown into communities, but stores rarely fly them in because it’s so expensive.

Yvonne Jones, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, made the announcement in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, on Wednesday.

The Nutrition North program makes food more affordable for those living in remote Northern communities through subsidies applied at the cash register.

Items shipped via barge and winter road will also gain access to the subsidy.

Yvonne Jones, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, made the announcement in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, at the Canadian High Arctic Research Station on Wednesday. (Polar Knowledge Canada)

Items will be subsidized at a rate of $1 per kilogram. The items that made the new list are:

  • Flour (all-purpose and whole wheat)
  • Diapers
  • Butter
  • Cooking oil
  • Lard
  • Salt
  • Yeast
  • Baking powder
  • Unseasoned pasta
  • Rice
  • Dried beans, lentils, split peas and grains

Pads and tampons will also be subsidized for the first time. They fall into the lowest subsidy category.

Nutrition North subsidizes items at three different levels — the highest subsidy is called “targeted” and applies to frozen vegetables, milk, and infant food and formula.

Most products fall into the “higher” category, including diapers, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and butter.

Less nutritious, less perishable foods, such as juice, crackers, bacon and cheese, fall into the lowest subsidy category.

The subsidy on feminine hygiene products and sealifted and winter road-shipped items begins immediately.

Companies were made aware of the changes so they could maximize the number of items that would be subsidized during this shipping season, which ends in the next six weeks.

The changes are expected to cost the government $3 million a year.

Audit process to come

Nutrition North conducts risk-based audits of the companies that manage the subsidies to ensure the savings are passed on to consumers.

The audits are reviewed and posted on the Nutrition North website, along with plans to fix any problems, if problems are identified.

The government will be adding a step to increase transparency, according to the announcement.

A committee made up of Northerners will be involved in reviewing the audits, and in any plans to fix problems.

Nutrition North officials are currently in talks with the Indigenous Working Group and the Inuit-Crown Working Group on Food Security to determine how appointments to the committee will be made.

The committee is expected to be in place by this winter.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Food insecurity rising in Canada’s eastern Arctic since launch of federal subsidy program, CBC News

Finland: One in 10 Finnish families with young children dealing with food insecurity: survey, Yle News

Sweden: Swedes eating less meat than before, Radio Sweden

United States: New farm bill program aims to fight food insecurity in Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Sara Frizzell, CBC News

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