National Newswatch

Ottawa–The Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council has finally been launched with Evan Fraser, head of the Arrell Institute at the University of Guelph, as one of its cochairs.

The other co-chair is Sylvie Cloutier, who has held various positions in the food processing sector. Mary Robinson, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, is among the 23 Council members, who are representatives of the agrifood sector, academia and social policy groups. They will have their first official meeting with Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau March 4.

The Food Policy for Canada was first announced back in June 2019 and Bibeau said its advisory body would be announced by the end of that year. That timetable was disrupted by the fall election, and then the arrival of COVID-19. A number of Food Policy components, such as the campaign against food waste, have started.

The Council will advise her on current and emerging food-related issues that matter to Canadians, she said. This advice will reflect the integrated and complex nature of Canada’s food system, and support improved and sustainable health, social, environmental and economic outcomes.

The government “is committed to supporting a healthier and more sustainable food sector, and to ensuring that all people in Canada are able to access a sufficient amount of safe, nutritious, and culturally diverse food,” she said. The policy is intended to build on federal initiatives like the Food Waste Reduction Strategy, the Healthy Eating Strategy, Canada’s Food Guide and the Local Food Infrastructure Fund along with Canada Brand and Buy Canadian promotional campaigns.

“The Council will support progress towards achieving the Food Policy’s vision: that all people in Canada are able to access a sufficient amount of safe, nutritious, and culturally diverse food, and that Canada’s food system is resilient and innovative, sustains our environment and supports our economy,” Bibeau said.

The waste reduction strategy is a $20 million program that will grant awards for innovations that prevent or divert food waste at any point from farm-to-plate. The Local Food Infrastructure Fund has supported more than 360 projects to increase accessibility of healthy, nutritious and local foods in communities across Canada.

The Advisory Council is also expected to advise the minister on current and emerging issues, enable ongoing dialogue on food-related challenges and opportunities, share information and best practices, assess gaps in policies and data, and advise on implementation on the Food Policy’s goals.

Alex Binkley is a freelance journalist and writes for domestic and international publications about agriculture, food and transportation issues. He’s also the author of two science fiction novels with more in the works.

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