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Canada’s Best Practices Portal “Food Security”, Essay Example

Pages: 12

Words: 3188

Essay

Executive Summary

In Canada’s most recent report to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Canadian government highlighted some of the primary goals it would be undertaking between in 2008 and 2009 to achieve a state of optimum food security. While the report was not exhaustive, it did demonstrate Canada’s ongoing commitment to hunger reduction initiatives and food security sustainability abroad and home. The Canadian Government’s initial Action Plan for Food Security was drafted as a Canada’s response to the World Food Summit (WFS), and it entailed the goal of reducing undernourished people by half no later than 2015. The report attempted to expand on a variety of agendas set by the Canadian government in the past as well as the international community. Some of the domestic government programs which the Canadian government put in place and attempted to enforce entail, “Nutrition for Health: An Agenda for Action; Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan,” as well as needed revisions to policy that involves the Fisheries Act; and Canada’s ever developing economic, environmental and policies and programs. Data in the following report reveals that Canada’s hunger issues are a product of unemployment, but that inadequate welfare states and low incomes can also be attributed to the failure of governmental policy to implement the human right to food. This reveals a wide range of interconnected and complex issues that influence food security in Canada. Data also shows that off-reserve Aboriginal households in Canada require special attention for food security, income security and the implementation of necessary initiatives to alleviate poverty. The following report takes a deeper look into the state of food security in Canada.

Introduction

The Canadian federal government, as well as territorial and provincial governments, and civil society organizations have been implementing a range of initiatives to improve and increase access to healthy, nutritious and safe foods in Canada. Domestic practices entail the reduction of poverty, inefficient social welfare programs, vulnerable populations that are exposed to low quality food. The Canadian government in collaboration with Joint Consultative Group (JCG) have put in place new strategies and programs designed to orchestrate change for the positive. A variety of these changes are based on studies and research provided below, through which the authors are extracting data from across Canada’s many consensus reports on food distribution and consumption, as well as peer review studies that better clarify disparaging data within the prevailing socioeconomic conditions of Canada.

In 1996, the World Food Summit provided a definition of food security as the point “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life” (“Food Security”, 2015, 1). The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a commonly held view of food security noting that food security entails both economic as well as physical access to food in a way that meets dietary needs and preferences. Food security primarily involves safeguarding community populations from hunger as well as malnutrition. The World Health Organization breaks down the fundamental issues related to food security identifying them to be:

Issues

  • Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.
  • Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
  • Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.

(“Food Security,” 2015)

Issues related to whether or not a household receives enough food, the method through which the food is distributed and whether or not that food fulfils nutrition needs reveals that food security is directly linked to health and the economy.

Literature Review

Food Access: The Issue of Unemployment

Access to food directly relates to socioeconomic causes. For this purpose the issue of unemployment will be looked at for how it impacts access to food. As the cost of food increases in Canada, specifically in the regions where there is less agriculture and food must be distributed, unemployment begins to play a major role in who has access to food. One of the first studies addressing this concept, specifically in regards to how the Canadian unemployment influences access to food can be seen in Graham Riches’s (1999) study, on Canada’s initiative to advance the human right to food in Canada. The article takes the position that Canada’s hunger issues are a product of unemployment, but that inadequate welfare states and low incomes can also be attributed to the failure of governmental policy to implement the human right to food. The author also addresses the state of food security which they note through extensive social policy analysis it can be seen that the issue is virtually ignored.  There are a wide range of barriers impeding the way to optimum food security. The author notes that “increasing commodification of welfare and the corporatization of food, the depoliticization of hunger by governments and the voluntary sector, and, most particularly, the neglect by the federal and provincial governments of their obligations to guarantee the domestic right to food as expressed in international human rights law” (Riches, 1999, 203).

Response:

Response: The Canadian Government’s response to the issue of poverty and unemployment and its impact on food security was the Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), a tax credit program for low income families. Implemented in 2000, the National Child Benefit Supplement was the first new federal social program in a long time to advocate an initiative to help the poor. Between 2000 and 2001, the supplement accounted for a subsidy of $977 per annum per child given as significant contributions to unemployed families, many of which were already receiving social assistance. It was believed the program could improve the food security status of these individuals. The policy was based on data retrieved by the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth which found that families in 1996 who reported cases of hunger most commonly had a household income decline of $2,690 in 1996 from their 1994 earnings. While this subsidy was seen more as a Band-Aid than a solution, certain areas like the provincial governments of Nova Scotia, Alberta, the Territories, Ontario, and the Prince Edward Islands  attempted to do a clawing back of NCB, reducing the amount of funds given to families. This attempt to pull back the initial plan has drawn much criticism from the public as well as policy makers that advocate for the public, but the program continued to function well into 2011 with gradual scale backs implemented from region to region.

In the most recent report issued documenting the success of NCB, The Treasury Board of Canada reported in 2007 that in 2005 (the latest year of publicly available results for the program), “as result of the National Child Benefit initiative: 171,000 children in 78,800 families were prevented from living below the Market Basket Measure (MBM) low-income thresholds, a reduction of 13.7 percent. These families saw their average disposable income increase by an estimated $2,400 or 9.5 percent” (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, 1). The data goes on to show that the low-income gap, which refers to the additional income necessary for families with low incomes to achieve the low-income line, due to NCB, was found to decline by 20.4 percent in 2005 for families with children.

Effect: The effect of NCB on unemployment and food security in the Canadian population is that it forces individuals to try and access food at minimal costs which sacrifices food quality and jeopardizes their health. While the added funds supplement Through being deprived of a nutritious diet, Aboriginals expose themselves to much more than the risk of poisonous contaminates or consuming foods that might not be conventionally edible, they also lower their immune systems and run greater risk of contracting illnesses that can then be carried on to the rest of the population. The data in the study was adjusted for household socio-demographic factors and the setting of the study was established within an estimated 35,107 Canadian households, Aboriginal and 33,579 non-aboriginal. The results of the study finds that “33% of Aboriginal households were significantly food insecure compared to 9 % of non-Aboriginal households, which 14 % of Aboriginal households had severe food insecurity, 3 % of non-Aboriginal households did” (Willows et al., 2012, 1150).

Recommendation:

  • Based on the above analysis enhanced more intuitive policy measures in respect to human rights to food in Canada in orders to better enhance food security for the unemployed, the welfare state.
  • The main recommendation is to improve policies insuring these individuals have access to food through supplements such as subsidies for food.
  • The conclusion of the study found that off-reserve Aboriginal households in Canada require special attention for food security, income security and the implementation of necessary initiatives to alleviate poverty. It is recommended that initiatives be put in place that implore conscious understanding of these special needs.
  • Poverty clearly plays a substantial role in regards to access to necessary foods and should be targeted as a primary obstacle to optimum food security.

Food Availability: Issue of lack of quantity

Food availability is identified as one of the key factors contributing to food security limitations or success. For the purpose of this research, I will look at food availability and the issue of lacks in quantity that significantly impact food security.

Response:

Response: Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) which Canada launched in 2003 was implemented to assist with sustainability of agricultural production and to assist the agri-food industry with meeting evolving consumer demand. APF was identified as a keen way to mitigate lack of quantity issues. The policy called for key actions to be implemented in five key areas of food security, specifically science and innovation, the environment, food safety, business risk management, and renewal. Some of the core initiatives that came out of the policy entailed, a $1.2 billion investment in risk management program to help industries maintain a dependable supply of food products, and $395 million invested in improving technology and information transfer to farmers to improve bio-processes and bio-products related to food production.

Despite these efforts made in 2003, data reveals Canada’s lack of quantity issues have continued in regards to agri-food products and even extended into the working capital readily available within the agri-food industry. There are some tell tale signs that support this view. For starters, the chart below demonstrates there has been substantial decline in the contribution of the Canadian food system to gross domestic product, specifically in respect to the share of the Canadian economy that Food represents.

The chart reveals there has been a continuous decline in both indirect and direct expenditures on food. While there are some things that can explain this , such as increased technology and other forms of exports emerging to take a prominent role in the economy, it also must be taken into account the fact that the Canadian population has increased and a gradual decline in food expenditures, as opposed to an increase, is an example food quantity decline and the government’s conscious shift away from food as an export or resource (“Statistics Canada”, 1). If the idea that the quantity of Canada’s food is in decline compared to its population growth doesn’t demonstrate the issue, Canada’s relative food system to employment is in declining despite the fact that the number of individuals in the area working in the food industry have increased over the past few decades have increased. Data shows that, in 1964, 7.1 million people were employed in Canada. The report further notes that, “about 12% of these, or about 820,000 people, worked in some aspect of the food system. By 2004 this group had grown to about 860,000 workers (5% of the total 16.2 million employed). In 2004 the food system contributed $52 billion to the $1.2 trillion gross domestic product (GDP)” (“Statistics Canada”, 1).  This demonstrates that quantity overall is not just decreasing but quantity of food, workers, factories, farmers, and all other factors related to the food industry within Canada are in significant decline compared to the population as a whole. According to the World Bank, Canada’s population has doubled from 17.9 million in 1979 to 35 million in 2010 (“Public Data”, 1).

Effect: The lack of quantity of food is a natural occurrences in Canada due to the available environmental resources compared to the population growth as well as declines in those employed in the food industry. The effect this has on Canada’s food security is that it shows sustaining food quality in the form of making sure it’s nutritional for consumption is a major factor contributing to imitations of food security in Canada. The Canadian government has initiative programs to combat this based on the above study and research, but these initiatives have fallen short due to food growth limitations and limited distribution resources. Beyond new technology to increase food quantity, expanding on the quality of food overall and it’s preservation is the most practical way to combat the issue of lack of quantity.

Recommendation:

  • It is recommended that the Canadian government apply the most modern methods of sanitation techniques to their food management procedures.
  • Quality of food is an essential aspect of making sure food is secure, specifically in respect to the nutrition factor or preservation during the distribution process.
  • Securing the supply of food overall is an essential aspect of food security in Canada.

Food Use: Issue of lack of Resources

Food usage entails sanitary elements of sustaining food health and preventing potential health hazards (“Food Security” 2015). For the purpose of this research, this study will look at lack of resources as a key issue, specifically as it relates to the use of food banks as a resource to sustain food quality, but also work as a source of food distribution to increase food usage.

Response: The primary response to the lack of food security resources in Canada was the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB). This resource became nationalized in 1995 with the Fair Share System which made CAFB the sole national distributor of food donations. Statistically, resources which contribute to the healthy manufacturing and distribution of food have largely relied on the environment in Canada. This is true of nearly all regions of the world. Sustaining healthy water supply for the effective irrigation of agriculture, as well as reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the agriculture industry all plays into impacting the resources Canada has available to provided quality food products to its citizens. Data shows that, from 1990 to 2006 greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture increased from 49 % to 62% of the carbon dioxide source in Canada (“Statistics Canada”, 1). This all happened while food sources declined as a source of GDP in the region and the populations increased, creating larger demand for food product across the region, and greater need for distribution with an already substantial impact imposed on the environment. Another distinct resource which plays a substantial role in both sustaining quality of food products while also contributing to the geographical reach of those products to the Canadian people can be seen with the Canadian government initiative known as food banks.

In Graham Riches’s study “Food Banks and Food Security,” the author evaluates the impact human rights, welfare reform, and social policy has on food security in Canada. The author points out that over the past twenty years, food banks have functioned as one of the fastest emerging resources for charity in Canada. He further points out that, clearing houses have also contributed as a resource for the redistribution surplus foods to combat poverty. These two main resources have served as frontline responses in reaction to the growing problem poverty and inequality. The authors note, “as welfare states have been restructured and cut back and basic entitlements have been denied, food banks have become secondary extensions of weakened social safety nets” (Riches, 2002, 10). The data in the report examines the pace of food bank growth, while placing an emphasis on their critical need. Canada’s food banks contributed substantially to access of food, but also the security process. These food banks sterilize and preserve food to sustain quality before they are distributed. The analyses finds that in respect to sociopolitical concerns and advancing human rights, food banks are an essential part of this process and its effectiveness in achieving food security and the extent (Riches, 2002, 10).

Effect: The main effect lack of resources imposes on Canada’s food security system is that it forces the country to find creative methods for food distribution and food quality preservation. The rise of food banks in Canada is concrete evidence both of the breakdown of the social safety net and the commodification of social assistance. The effect of food banks in the past has been a source for sustaining minimal health in low income communities.

Recommendation:

  • The study demonstrates that food banks are working as the last line of defense against hunger in Canada,
  • The problem is that they lack the necessary capacity to effectively distribute food in a way that can ensure the proper fare distribution and good usage throughout the country.
  • Another issue that Canada has seen in utilizing food banks as a form of reserve is that food quality declines.
  • It is recommended that investments in food bank infrastructure be made to ensure that they serves as an effective safety net to satisfy the rea needs of the region.

Conclusion

In sum, the data in this report reveals that Canada’s hunger issues are a product of unemployment, but that inadequate welfare states and low incomes can also be attributed to the failure of governmental policy to implement the human right to food. In addition, food security plays a substantial factor. Quality of food is an essential aspect of making sure food is secure, specifically in respect to the nutrition factor or preservation during the distribution process.  Securing the supply of food overall is an essential aspect of food security in Canada. All of these findings reveal there are a wide range of interconnected and complex issues that influence food security in Canada. Data also shows that off-reserve Aboriginal households in Canada require special attention for food security, income security and the implementation of necessary initiatives to alleviate poverty. The primary recommendation of this report finds that implementing policy that creates, or develops the environment for greater use of food banks and similar resources structured to fee Canadian citizens, could improve food quality and security.

Work Cited

Canada’s Best Practices Portal “Food Security” (2015). <Retrieved From> http://cbpp-pcpe.phac-aspc.gc.ca/public-health-topics/food-security/

Chan, Hing Man, et al. “Food security in Nunavut, Canada: barriers and recommendations.” International Journal of Circumpolar Health 65.5 (2006). <Retrieved From>http://www.circumpolarhealthjournal.net/index.php/ijch/article/download/18132/20636

“Food Security.” WHO. World Health Organization, 2015. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.<http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story028/en/>.

“Public Data” World Bank. 2015 <Retrieved From> https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:CAN:AUS&hl=en&dl=en

Riches, Graham. “Advancing the human right to food in Canada: Social policy and the politics of hunger, welfare, and food security.” Agriculture and Human Values

16.2 (1999): 203-211. <Retrieved From> http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1007576706862

Riches, Graham. “Food Banks and Food Security: Welfare Reform, Human Rights and Social Policy. Lessons from Canada?” 2002. <Retrieved From> http://internationalhumanrightslaw.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Riches-food-banks.pdf

Rideout, Karen, et al. “Bringing home the right to food in Canada: challenges and possibilities for achieving food security.” Public Health Nutrition 10.06 (2007): 566-573. <Retrieved From> http://web.uvic.ca/~ostry/selected_publications/nutrition_food_security/2007_Rideout_etal_Right_to_Food_in_Canada.pdf

Statistics Canada, Industry Accounts Division, 2008, special tabulation. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/16-201-x/2009000/ct051-eng.htm also <retrieved from> http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/16-201-x/2009000/t239-eng.htm

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. “Federal-Provincial/Territorial National Child Benefit Program Initiative.” Canada. 2015 http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/hidb-bdih/plan-eng.aspx?Org=0&Hi=42&Pl=481

Willows, Noreen D., et al. “Prevalence and sociodemographic risk factors related to household food security in Aboriginal peoples in Canada.” Public health nutrition 12.08 (2012): 1150-1156. <Retrieved From> http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/h11-128

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