Fight Against Food Waste Act

An Act to establish National Food Waste Awareness Day and to provide for the development of a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada

Sponsor

Ruth Ellen Brosseau  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Defeated, as of Oct. 5, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-231.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment designates the 16th day of October in each and every year as “National Food Waste Awareness Day” and provides for the development and implementation of a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Oct. 5, 2016 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for raising two important issues in this place: food waste and food insecurity.

Food waste is an important issue when we consider its environmental impact, and food insecurity is something that must be dealt with because everyone needs access to healthy food to survive. I agree these are important issues to address, but the problem with the bill, and the reason I cannot support it, is that it draws a link between food waste and food insecurity. That is not the proper way to seek solutions.

There are two issues. First, there is the wrong date. I will start with the wrong date and then I would like to speak about the link.

As far as the date goes, the date that was chosen to create a national food waste day was October 16. October 16 is World Food Day. That is the day when people across the world have a chance to talk about food policy and to reach out to each other to try to find solutions. For example, Food Secure Canada will be having a conference in Toronto, spanning the weekend that includes World Food Day, where people can talk about the larger issues around food policy. Personally, I will be present at the Leslieville Farmers' Market, where I can talk with people in my community about food policy, sustainable agriculture, food insecurity, and the issues that are important to them on a broader basis. That is what we really need to talk about on World Food Day. Therefore, it would be a mistake to put national food waste day on this date.

There is also a larger problem with the bill. That is the fact that a link has been drawn between food waste and food insecurity. Food insecurity is due to poverty. It is not about the availability of food. I would like to read a quote from The Huffington Post, by Nick Saul, who addressed this issue. He is from from Community Food Centres Canada. He said:

...let's not conflate a food waste strategy with a poverty reduction strategy. It's destructive to do so. Are we saying that the poor among us are only worthy of the castoffs of the industrial food system—the majority of which is unhealthy food, laden with fat, sugar, and salt, which increases the risk of diet-related illnesses? There's no question we can and must do better than this as a society.

I agree with that point fully. We can and must do better to address food security and poverty, which is the underlying problem we must deal with.

Some of the ways we can deal with the issue in a much more tangible way is, for example, with the Canada child benefit, which we passed and people started receiving in July. The Canada child benefit focuses on providing funds to families in greater need. That is one tangible way to address poverty in families with young children. Increases to the GIS, which also formed part of budget 2016, deal with seniors in poverty. That is another tangible way we can address the underlying issue of food insecurity. Finally, the investments that we are putting forward in affordable housing is another step in the right direction in dealing with poverty. That is because when we are talking about food security, too often people need to make a choice between having a roof over their heads or having healthy food on the table.

I am very happy we are starting this discussion about food waste and about food insecurity in this place, but I would propose that this is not the right solution and that we should be dealing with the underlying issues of poverty and talking about food policy as a whole.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, before I get into Bill C-231, I will say I am surprised to hear my colleague opposite talk about food insecurity after the stunt the Liberals pulled yesterday in the way they introduced their carbon tax. If they wanted to create instability and insecurity across the country, they could not have done it any more effectively than they have.

When it comes to food production, the way Liberals have done this causes instability in rural and farming communities. It is going to cause food insecurity. They are talking about a carbon tax. We know a carbon tax will hike the cost of everything. It will hike the cost of fuel for farmers as they are trying to do their food production. It hikes the cost of fertilizer. In the production of fertilizer we use products they are planning on taxing. It hikes the cost of things like transportation, so it increases the cost of getting food to market. As the member opposite talks about instability and insecurity, they should be acknowledging that they are creating that. We are going to see greater instability in rural communities, in food production, and certainly it is not a positive advantage for farmers to have to put up with the kind of carbon tax they are suggesting in the future.

Farmers have made a huge contribution, and l am going to talk about that later, but they are the ones who are making the adjustments. They have been making adjustments for years. As was mentioned earlier in question period, farmers are paying up to $30,000 more for machinery now because of the changes to engines and emissions requirements, and they pay that cost directly. The government comes back and says it is going to slap some more taxes on them because they are not taxed enough yet. Between that and the deceptive way they dealt with the provinces yesterday, it means that their carbon tax proposal is not a recipe for any type of security or food stability in the future.

That brings us to food waste awareness day, which has been proposed by my NDP colleague on the agriculture committee. We would have preferred to have a food awareness day because certainly waste could have been part of that. Rather than an act to establish a negative campaign, we could have celebrated the great production and processing of food in this country.

Certainly the area I come from has been a food producer for this part of the world and the rest of the world for over 100 years. People came from Europe, Eastern Europe, China, and the Middle East and settled in western Canada. Most of the reason they settled there is that they wanted to be farmers. They settled on the land and they wanted to produce food. They wanted to grow beef and sell it around the world. They certainly have done that with great success.

Farming has changed over the years. I mentioned earlier about the technology that has changed, but certainly the crops have changed in our area as well. It used to be that we grew nothing but grains and durum wheat. People did not think they could grow anything else. There have been new crops that have come in, and now lentils are grown probably more than any other crop in our area. Mustard is very popular, all three kinds of mustard; the oriental, yellow, and brown are grown in our area, and it is a big area for mustard growing in the world.

Chickpeas are an item we started growing about 20 years ago, and it actually transformed agriculture in our area because for a few years chickpeas were a very profitable crop and allowed farmers to do very well for a number of years. Peas are another success in our area. Farther north, canola has probably been the biggest success story in western Canada, where it is the highest value crop that is grown in Canada. It has been a tremendous success story as well.

We know the beef in western Canada, in my area, has been a very strong contributor to our economy. We see now a couple of feedlots closing in western Canada; again, back to food insecurity. One of the reasons that the latest closure took place is that the operators were not prepared to deal with the carbon tax. They mentioned that in their discussion about why they were shutting down production.

We know that farmers and ranchers are stewards. They raise food, and they protect the environment. They have changed their practices over the years, and the food that is raised in Canada is the safest food in the world. We believe that is what we should be celebrating with the bill. Rather than talking specifically about food waste, we should be talking about food production, about the incredible ways and opportunities that farmers across this country have to be successful, and also about the food processing here. We know we have one of the best systems in Canada for food safety. We regulate for safe and healthy food, and we do that very well. Around the world, Canada is recognized as one of those producers of top-quality food.

It is a good thing we are because we export all over the world. We go to Japan, for example, which is a market that demands top-quality products, and Canadian pork there is seen as one of those products. We also see that around the rest of the world, where they recognize that Canadian products fill those niches at the top of the food chain.

The first part of the bill calls for a waste awareness day. We would have preferred to see something a bit different. Certainly, we would have been more likely to support it had we had seen a bill that celebrated our successes.

I want to talk a bit about the second part of the bill because it becomes very problematic. The bill is short and sweet, but when we get to the second page and start to see what is being called for here under a national strategy, we begin to realize that there will be a really big cost to this and that a lot of work would have to go into putting this bill into effect, without a lot of direction from the author of the bill.

First, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food would need to have a series of meetings, not only with the provincial and territorial governments—we are talking about first ministers' meetings or meetings with officials across this country—but also then a series of meetings with agriculture and agrifood people, as well.

This is not a minor set of just two or three meetings. My colleague is calling for the minister to have major meetings across the country. We know that will cost a lot of money. The reason she would like to see that is to develop a national strategy; but, again, there are no real specifics on what that national strategy would be, other than we know that it will cost a fair amount of money.

She would also like a national public awareness campaign to be developed. Again, that comes with a cost. However, there is no indication from the member opposite of what that cost might be. I do not know if she is talking about an ad campaign or an educational program across the country, but she just talks about having a public awareness campaign of some sort that needs to be developed and implemented by the government.

Then there is a very vague paragraph here that the government should “put in place the tools needed to allow consumers to reduce food waste”. I have thought about that but I am not sure what it means to “put in place the tools needed to allow consumers to reduce food waste”. That is so vague. I do not know how much enthusiasm the government would have for this, but it could mean anything, I guess. It is so open-ended that I do not think we can support it.

Then it becomes interesting. She wants the government to begin to redo some of the great work being done already by private and charitable organizations.

Across this country we have things like food banks and charities like the Salvation Army that handle food across this country to ensure that it is still edible and is getting delivered to people so they have the opportunity to enjoy it. My colleague who spoke earlier talked about some of the food apps that are in place now. People can go online and find an app that will explain where food is available. We do not think there is any necessity for the government to begin redoing the excellent work that has already been done by these organizations. Moreover, when bill talks about facilitating the donation of edible food products to community organizations and food banks, we think people are already doing that very well.

There is a call for an environmental study on used food. I do not know how we would do that or how big that study would be, but it seems like another challenge to the government, without much direction.

Then the last one I think that really concerns me is that she wants food waste reduction targets, but it is not clear what that means. Is this mandatory? Is this voluntary? What do those targets mean? We do not know if there are going to be costs from that. How would we enforce it? Would we have little food police running around enforcing food waste regulations? I do not know. I guess with targets, we would have to examine the relationship between production, transportation, and retail, as well. I think that is a huge overreach.

In conclusion, I appreciate my colleague's good intent in this bill, but I do not think we will be able to support it. It is just too broad and complex. It is a very costly strategy to address this issue and will lead to increased costs. We believe it will increase red tape substantially. Certainly, if I am reading this accurately, there would have to be a massive administration to reach this national strategy. We believe there are better ways to address this issue.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the lack of food security is an important issue facing many Canadians. Today I am pleased to speak in support of a bill related to food security, Bill C-231, the fight against food waste.

This legislation aims to provide for the development of a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada and establish a national food waste awareness day on October 16 of each year, which is also World Food Day.

Members in the House will recall in the spring when I introduced a private member's bill to celebrate local food day on the last Friday before Thanksgiving. I would encourage all members to think about that this Friday and celebrate their local food producers. If they cannot do that, it is my 38th wedding anniversary and they can all celebrate that as well.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Clap for my wife Audrey, not for me.

We, as members of Parliament, have an opportunity to be leaders in this area and implement tools so that all stakeholders in the supply chain, from farmers to consumers, can reduce their food waste.

Food waste is everyone's business because it has both social and environmental impacts. At the same time that we know food waste is a problem in Canada, more than 850,000 people struggle to feed themselves each month, and 36% of them are children. Since 2008, food bank use in Canada has climbed to more than 26% of the population actually having to use food banks at least occasionally. That is simply unacceptable in a country like ours. Reducing food waste is an important part of the solution.

It is important to note that food waste is not the same as food loss. Food that has become unsuitable for consumption due to natural hazards would be considered loss. However, safe food that is thrown away voluntarily, or because it is not commercially viable, or because there is a lack of awareness of what it could have been used for to feed people or even animals, is considered waste.

To truly understand the magnitude of food waste, it is important to consider the numbers. It is estimated that $31 billion worth of food ended up in landfills or composting sites in 2014. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg when we factor in wasted energy, labour costs, transportation, and capital investments in infrastructure and inventory. Added all together, the true cost of food waste is $107 billion.

According to Statistics Canada, every Canadian wastes 183 kilograms, or just over 403 pounds of food a year. This represents the equivalent of throwing $771 per year per consumer right into the garbage. In other words, over 15% of a person's grocery cart ends up in the trash without being consumed, which costs about $50 per week per family.

With regard to the environmental impact, landfills and avoidable food waste are disastrous. The decomposition of organic matter creates methane, a seriously harmful greenhouse gas, and overwhelms composting facilities and landfills. The carbon footprint of food waste is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes, making food waste the third top emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China. One tonne of food waste emits 5.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

It is easy to see this problem as very daunting, but taking concrete steps to reduce food waste across the supply chain is doable. Other countries, provinces, and communities are doing just that, and I would like to highlight a few examples of each to show how positive change is possible.

Food waste is an issue worldwide. To date, France has led the charge and was the first country to legislate against food waste. The law, which was passed by its parliament this past February, bans supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, and establishes a hierarchy of actions to fight food waste. The law fines retailers who voluntarily destroy edible food, and amends the legal framework to remove liability in order to facilitate the donation of name-brand products directly by factories. Lastly, it includes an education program about food waste in schools and businesses. There is now a movement to expand the law across the European Union.

In the U.S., the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was passed in 1996. It encourages citizens to donate food and reduce waste. In Italy, Last Minute Market was created in 1998 to help shops and retailers recover and redistribute their unsold food to various organizations.

In Canada there are important examples of communities, provinces and organizations taking action on food waste reduction. In Quebec, waste reduction week is held every October, and two petition with more than 29,000 signatures have been presented to the national assembly requesting that the government facilitates donations of unsold food by food retailers.

In Ontario, the Ontario Association of Food Banks and Second Harvest work in partnership to reduce waste and combat food insecurity.

In the prairies, groups such as Alberta Care, Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council and Dig In Manitoba work to raise awareness among elected officials, consumers and retailers about food waste.

In B.C., the legislative assembly passed the Food Donor Encouragement Act which provides that people or businesses donating food are not liable for damage caused to consumers under certain conditions. B.C.'s Ministry of Environment is also working with the US Environmental Protection Agency to develop a toolkit to help consumers reduce food waste.

From my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, I am proud to share outstanding examples of community action to reduce food waste, which will hopefully inspire my colleagues in the House with what is possible and what can be achieved.

My first example comes from the city of Nelson, the Nelson Food Cupboard, with its long-standing commitment to providing its clients with healthy fresh foods. It runs a number of great food security programs including: the harvest rescue program, which allows local gardeners and fruit growers to share excess produce with volunteers and with the Food Cupboard; the Grow a Row and fresh produce donations, which encourages gardeners to drop off surplus garden produce to the Food Cupboard; and the food recovery partnership, a partnership with Nelson's historic Hume Hotel, where it receives excess food from the hotel kitchen, repackages it and hands it out to the Food Cupboard's clients, which include families with hungry children.

On a personal note, when I was mayor of Cranbrook and we had food left over at a city function, I would personally package it up and take it to Street Angels, a truly innovative organization under the leadership of the Ktunaxa First Nation. It serves a very important role in helping out homeless people of all cultural backgrounds, and I encourage all members to Google Cranbrook Street Angels to learn more about this amazing model of community support.

In the community of Revelstoke, a population of over 7,100 people, food security has been identified as a community priority. In 2014, the city of Revelstoke commissioned the development of a food security strategy. This strategy included in its goals to increase access to local and regional food that was sustainably and ethically produced through personal, business and municipal government actions, and further set as an objective to reduce food waste whereby organic waste products were used as valuable agricultural inputs and/or products that were still edible were recovered and redistributed.

Community Connections in Revelstoke collected surplus food and redistributed it by engaging local food producers and distributors, including a major grocery store. It developed and provided an affordable, reliable system for the donations of surplus food and helped donors feel more comfortable about liability concerns by educating them. It ensured the food recovery program met all food safety regulations.

It picked up donations at the weekly farmer's market. The food recovery program in August had its biggest day with over 800 pounds of food donated in one day. Over the three month period, 16,718 pounds of food were recovered, worth almost $42,000, and it was redistributed to families in need.

Comment boards were posted in the local food distribution area to capture the feedback of those receiving the food. This is what one client said, “Thank you so much. My husband and I were having a hard time making ends meet and this helped us so much. We were able to feed our son AND pay rent this month. This community has been a helping hand when we had no one else. Please keep up the program and great work. Every bit helps.” That really captures it: every bit helps.

It is time for the federal government to show leadership on this important file by building on to the momentum that is happening in communities, in provinces across the country and around the world.

The government says that it is concerned about food security, the environment and social inequity. This bill provides a clear way to take concrete action on food waste, which touches on each of these important areas.

I encourage every member of Parliament to support Bill C-231 and to support the reduction of food waste in their communities. Working together we can build a better Canada.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2016 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is our job as parliamentarians to discuss ideas that can help make Canada a better country. That is why I want to congratulate my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé on her bill. I have no doubt it is well-intentioned, but for various reasons that I will get into in my speech, the government will not support it.

To start with, food waste is a very complex issue. There is some debate around the nature and scale of the problem. For example, one question that comes up often has to do with figuring out where we can have the most impact in terms of curbing waste. Is it on farms, at processing plants, at grocery stores, or in Canadian households? We need answers to those questions before we can proceed.

We think that the best way to get those answers is to have inclusive conversations about a national food policy. In fact, the government committed to introducing just such a policy by consulting stakeholders and Canadian families.

We are aware that food loss and waste are serious issues of concern to people across Canada, to our government, and certainly to your humble servant, Mr. Speaker, and rightly so.

In 2014, Value Chain Management International estimated the value of food waste and losses in Canada to be $31 billion. The organization also indicated that the equivalent of 30% to 40% of food products are wasted in Canada. Approximately 50% of the food waste in Canada occurs in households, whereas about 20% occurs in processing.

There are several causes of food waste, including purchasing too many perishable products, the inability to properly prepare food, which is generally the case for me, poor storage, inadequate portions, and quite simply purchasing food that we do not like.

The remaining waste occurs on the farm, at retailers, in restaurants, and during transportation. When we see the statistics, we cannot simply remain indifferent about this issue, and the government certainly is not. Reducing food waste benefits consumers, farmers, processors, retailers, and restaurateurs. It benefits society as a whole. Furthermore, reducing food waste can help farmers and businesses reduce operating costs.

It is also possible to take full advantage of the by-products. Food waste residuals can be used or converted to make animal feed. Granular biomass can be used for heating or in dyes. Other examples of derived products include ethanol or fertilizers and detergents.

Reducing food waste can also improve food security and help the environment through better use of water and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the decomposition of organic materials at landfills. Those are a few examples.

The entire world, including Canada, is addressing food waste. Recently, a number of UN agencies and other international groups launched a global standard for measuring food waste and loss. The purpose of this new accounting and reporting standard for food waste and loss is to have governments, businesses, and other organizations measure food waste and loss internationally in a more consistent way.

In the United Kingdom, leading supermarkets have pledged to drive down food and drink waste by a fifth within the next decade. Retailers there are backing a voluntary agreement that also targets a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions created by the food and drink industry.

By way of example, the United Kingdom's biggest grocery chain also committed to sending no surplus food to waste from its stores by the end of next year by redistributing it to charities.

In Canada, I am proud that retailers are also taking a leadership role in reducing food waste. For example, recently, we saw a large supermarket chain expand its offering of imperfect fruits and vegetables. Canadian consumers can now buy this produce for approximately 30% less than the cost of the other fruits and vegetables that are usually sold in supermarkets. That prevents food waste. Based on the success of the trial period, consumers in Quebec and Ontario can also now buy imperfect peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

The provincial and municipal governments also have an important role to play in managing food waste. For example, in 2014, Ontario implemented a tax credit for food donations made by farmers to food banks or other similar organizations in order to help reduce food waste.

In its latest budget, Nova Scotia announced a similar tax credit for its farmers. Our own government is working hard to fight food waste in a number of ways. For example, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada supports research into reducing food waste at the primary production stage and research into analyzing how much food is wasted or lost.

Our science and innovation investments are also helping to reduce food waste. We have researchers looking for ways to transform vegetables that would normally be thrown out into marketable food products. That is just one example of how our government is working on fighting food waste.

That being said, we clearly need to do more. We definitely have to tackle food waste. However, we believe in giving the matter careful consideration and gathering input from a broad range of stakeholders before crafting a comprehensive, coordinated approach. That is exactly what we are proposing because this issue affects the entire supply chain from farms to families.

One crucial part of the equation is raising awareness of how food is produced. That is why the Government of Canada is planning to include discussions about food waste in our national food policy consultations.

Our government is committed to working in partnership with all stakeholders and Canadians to develop a national food policy. To achieve that, we plan to consult with provincial and territorial governments, stakeholders, and Canadians in order to better shape our food policy and better guide potential initiatives to tackle food waste.

As part of a national food policy, we will first put forward a vision, principles, and objectives and then propose a more collaborative and more integrated approach with regard to the food policy issues. This notion is supported by the Canadian agriculture industry and various stakeholders, particularly the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Food Secure Canada, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, and the Conference Board of Canada. Each of those organizations has published reports and made an invaluable contribution to the discussions on food policy.

We will begin extensive public consultations with the food industry and Canadians next year in order to come up with a Canadian food policy worthy of the name. We believe it is important to study this issue as a whole, that is, from farm to table.

Despite the good intentions behind Bill C-231, the government will not be supporting it. We believe that developing a national food policy is the right way forward, which will enable us to hold consultations and focus on future initiatives to tackle food waste in Canada.

In closing, I want to emphasize that this is a very important issue. Let there be no doubt that the importance of reducing food waste warrants an in-depth discussion. With that in mind, I want to thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for raising this crucial matter.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2016 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion moved by my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé because food waste is an issue that is very important to me.

Every summer for the past four years I have been touring the farmers' markets in my riding. I take the opportunity to have people sample the regional products and I talk to them about various themes related to agriculture and food.

This year, my theme was in fact food waste. Having spent the better part of my summer talking about food waste and raising awareness about it, I think this is quite relevant. My colleague's bill is truly important to me and my constituents. I know from the discussions we had at these farmers' markets how important this is to people.

We talked about a phenomenon that makes no ecological or economic sense to me, specifically the fact that far too often at our grocery stores we find products that travelled thousands of kilometres, when we produce those very same products in our own backyards.

When I go to the grocery store, I do not understand why they are selling ground beef from New Zealand. Just a few houses down from where I live, I have neighbours who produce beef. Nevertheless, the beef being sold at my local grocery store is from New Zealand. The reason I mention this is that transport is one of the reasons why food goes to waste.

The more food is transported from one area to another, the greater the chances that some of it will no longer be fit for consumption when it arrives at its destination. As a result, one of the battles we need to fight is to reduce the transportation of food. Obviously, ensuring that food is consumed as close as possible to the location where it was produced is the simplest way to reduce food transportation. This seems like a completely logical solution to me. What is more, this also prevents significant quantities of greenhouse gases from being emitted during transport. However, these simple solutions are not necessarily included in the policies.

Having a strategy to reduce food waste and establishing a day to raise awareness are excellent initiatives proposed by my colleague. Any general discussion on food and agriculture should include a set of policies, but we must also act on the individual issues. We cannot wait an eternity to do so. If we want tangible measures, we must act now. The bill before us would let us do that. It seems that members do not want to pass the bill, which I find absolutely unfortunate for producers and, generally speaking, for the environment.

Today, food waste amounts to $771 a year in groceries per consumer. My Liberal colleagues probably do not realize that $771 is the monthly income of some people. Every year, the amount of food wasted is equivalent to their income for an entire month. That is a lot, and it is not acceptable in a society like ours.

Our grandmothers came up with strategies to waste virtually nothing; they reused everything. Today, we live in a society with huge technological capabilities that let us better manage everything. We have gone from one extreme, where almost nothing was wasted, to the other, where waste is rampant.

Agriculture is very important in my region. Abitibi-Témiscamingue's bio-food sector is worth $280 million per year and accounts for 8,100 direct jobs, or 11% of all the jobs in my riding. That is why I will not stand for the government dragging its feet on food waste. I think our farmers deserve to be compensated for the work they do every day. We deserve to be able to eat our products.

Every year, when I visit farmers' markets, I talk about the Guyenne tomato incident, which was ridiculous. All of the tomatoes produced locally in Guyenne were being sent to Montreal and then brought back to Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Those tomatoes travelled 1,300 kilometres before ending up on our plates. That was absurd. That kind of thing should not happen. Shipping tomatoes 1,300 kilometres only to have them end up back on our plates is nonsense. Of course some of the tomatoes were damaged and wasted during that 1,300-kilometre trek. If the tomatoes had travelled a mere 15 kilometres before ending up on our plates, they would not have been damaged. They would not have been wasted.

We can reduce food waste considerably through simple measures. One simple measure we should introduce is ensuring that products are consumed as quickly and efficiently as possible after they are produced. That is why we need to reflect on how we can manage our food more effectively, and how we can ensure that this food makes it to our plates instead of being wasted.

Farmers' markets have become more popular than ever. When I was travelling around Palmarolle, I saw a long lineup of people waiting to purchase fresh vegetables from a local producer. People care more and more about buying fresh, local products. They want to help reduce food waste. We need to give them the tools, since they rely on what is provided to them. If they are offered only products that have come from far away, of course, people are forced to buy whatever they can access. Many people do not have access to several different grocery stores, and therefore have limited choices.

If, unfortunately, the local grocery store only carries carrots from Mexico or the United States, when it could perhaps carry carrots grown in Canada, we do not really have a choice. These products either spoil in transit, or we have to use chemical preservatives to help preserve them, which is also not a good environmental choice.

I am asking members to support my colleague's motion so that we can eat better and make smarter food choices. Not only will this ensure that people eat better, but it will also improve their health. These choices will also have an impact on the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transportation, as well as reducing the use of various chemicals used to grow the vegetables and to prolong their shelf life. In the end, if we could make it easier to get products from farm to fork, we would not need all these measures.

I also want to point out that the Conseil régional en environnement en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, or CREAT, has been working hard to reduce food waste by using existing networks. Businesses and groups in my riding are putting a lot of effort into reducing food waste. These groups are already very familiar with the issue. Many of our food stores have also gone to great lengths to ensure that local products are accessible. In Ville-Marie, for example, sales of regional products increased from about $200,000 per year to over $1 million annually over the past four years. This shows that we can have accessible products when people make an effort.

We must support the efforts of these people and stakeholders and continue to support the consumption of our local products if we want to reduce food waste.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2016 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to have more time to talk about my Bill C-231. It is an important bill. I also want to thank all the members who spoke today and during the first hour of debate. This bill means a lot to me because fighting food waste is a very important issue.

I thank all those who supported my bill. We received support from a number of organizations, such as Moisson Montréal, Moisson Mauricie, and Moisson Lanaudière. These organizations across Quebec support the initiative and the objective of Bill C-231.

There is also the Quebec chapter of the Friends of the Earth, Rescue Food in Calgary, and l'Escouade anti-gaspillage alimentaire de l'Outaouais. I thank them for the work they do to fight food waste. I also want to mention the Recycling Council of Ontario, and Second Harvest, in Toronto, the largest food distributor in the country. Eight million pounds of food were distributed in the past 12 months.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization commended us on our initiative, Bill C-231, and noted the importance of setting targets for reducing food waste in Canada.

I also recently received the support of Arash Derambarsh, from France. He said:

I am proud to join with my friend...in the fight against food waste in Canada. In France and elsewhere in the world, food waste is a problem that has economic, social, and environmental consequences.... I believe it is urgent that the Canadian government legislate to ensure that unsold food is redistributed rather than thrown out.

I would also like to thank researchers, such as Iris Simard Tremblay, author of the essay Comment réduire le gaspillage alimentaire dans l'industrie agroalimentaire au Québec?; Éric Ménard, a lecturer, blogger, and food waste expert; and Paul Van der Werf, who did extraordinary work. I want to thank Paul for his help and encouragement. We will not give up.

Food waste in Canada is everyone's business A lot of people are concerned about food waste. It is in the news quite often. When we look at what is happening in other countries, we see they have taken some measures that are very important. Canada could be a real leader when it comes to reducing food waste. Food waste has very important social and environmental impacts, and that was mentioned in some of the speeches today.

Earlier today, we had a great debate on the Paris agreement. Is the government serious about tackling climate change?

The fight against food waste is an important part of that. In Canada, we waste 31 million tonnes of food per year, which represents a loss of $31 billion dollars a year. That is shameful. In a country as rich as Canada, approximately 900,000 people rely on food banks. The food distribution system is broken. There are many improvements that need to be made and this bill is a step in the right direction.

There are quite a few questions that were raised about the bill. My colleague from Toronto—Danforth talked a lot about poverty. I think that, yes, the government has a role to play in reducing poverty. Maybe a $15-per-hour minimum wage would be very good. I would also like to say that Second Harvest supports the bill.

My colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands, who also sits on the agriculture committee, talked about costs. I think the inaction of the government costs more. Under the Conservatives, since 2008, there was a 26% augmentation of food bank use in Canada. Also, in 2014 there were $27 million in losses from food waste and now we are up to $31 million. Inaction costs more than the action asked for in the bill.

Other people have talked about the importance of holding consultations. In the bill, I ask the Canadian government to do just that; we know how much the Liberal government enjoys holding consultations. If the bill is passed at this stage, it will go to committee, where improvements can be made.

In my opinion, as parliamentarians, we also have the duty to reduce inequality and fight against climate change. This bill is a good step in that direction. If it is not passed, I will continue to fight to reduce food waste and food insecurity in Canada.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

May 12th, 2016 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

moved that Bill C-231, An Act to establish National Food Waste Awareness Day and to provide for the development of a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce in the House Bill C-231, which comes from a motion that I moved during the 41st Parliament, Motion No. 499. I put that motion on the Order Paper, but it was not debated. This time, I decided to introduce a bill because this is a timely topic and urgent action is required.

A rich country like ours should not be wasting so much food. Food waste has economic, social, and environmental impacts. According to recent studies, people in Canada wasted over 31 billion dollars' worth of food in 2015 alone.

The true cost of food waste would actually be $107 billion a year if we factored in the production and transportation costs at every step of the supply chain, for example, labour, energy, inventory, and infrastructure.

Of that waste, 47% is attributed to consumers, while the rest breaks down as follows: 10% from farmers, 4% from transportation and distribution, 10% from retail, 20% from processing, and 9% from restaurants.

From farm to plate, everyone would win from the government developing a strategy to reduce food waste. For example, consumers, who are responsible for 47% of the waste, lose an average of $771 a year. That is on average 15% of their groceries that are literally being thrown out.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian consumers waste 183 kg of food every year. According to Value Chain Management Centre, companies with the least amount of waste are those with the highest margin and highest profits. In other words, less waste equals more profit.

In his testimony at the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Mr. Gooch, from Value Chain Management Centre said that there is a growing body of evidence that shows it is worthwhile for governments to invest more in reducing waste. He gave the United Kingdom as an example, which saw a return on its investments and initiatives to reduce food waste.

In short, combatting food waste benefits everyone. Food waste is responsible for huge volumes of greenhouse gas emissions, and this gas is 20 times more powerful than methane. Wasting one tonne of food is the equivalent of emitting 5.6 tonnes of CO2. Furthermore, food waste puts a huge amount of pressure on composting centres and, even worse, on landfills.

Overall, this type of pollution from around the world represents the world's third-largest polluter, after China and the United States. It amounts to 3.3 gigatonnes. This is just the tip of the iceberg, since this problem can affect the environment in many different ways. For example, water and land resources are literally being wasted as a result of the avoidable loss of food.

Every year, 6,750 billion litres of water are wasted. This is the equivalent of a daily consumption of 200 litres of water by 9 billion people a year.

According to 2007 global data, if food waste were a country, it would cover 1.4 billion hectares of land, an area larger that India and Canada combined, or 30% of the world's agricultural land.

It is important to note that eliminating food waste plays a role in combatting climate change. If the government and all parliamentarians in the House truly want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, I hope they will strongly support this bill.

In social terms, it is absolutely ridiculous that we waste so much food, while thousands of Canadians do not have adequate access to food.

Food waste and food insecurity are two different problems, but solving the first one could help us make things better around food insecurity.

In Canada, over four million people do not get enough to eat every day. Nearly 900,000 people, one-third of them children, use food banks every month.

In a country like ours, we should be ashamed of that. Since 2008, food bank use has grown, but it should have shrunk. In total, 1.6 million households cannot feed themselves properly every year.

We have to fight poverty in Canada and eliminate it. We have to create good jobs. We have to ensure access to employment insurance. We need good pensions.

In an effort to fight food waste, many organizations recover food across the country, including in my riding. However, recovering food does not eliminate food waste and food insecurity at the source. In the past few years, several initiatives to fight food waste have emerged.

In Quebec, organizations such as Moisson Mauricie and Moisson Montréal have launched pilot projects to reduce food waste and fight food insecurity. They work with supermarkets to recover unsold food, which is placed in bins and refrigerated or frozen at the store. The organizations visit each participating supermarket twice a week.

In collaboration with Quebec's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, volunteers from that organization ensure that the products meet grocery store requirements in terms of quality control, traceability and respecting the cold chain. In fact, all employees and volunteers must get the proper training for this program and help ensure standards are met.

The Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec, which contributes to these initiatives, notes that, “to date, 534 tonnes of food from 83 supermarkets have been redistributed to more than 66 food banks”. In recent years, community fridges have popped up in many cities in Quebec, such as Montreal, Saguenay, Sherbrooke. This initiative aims to fight food waste by having a fridge for restaurants and the public to drop off fruit, vegetables and grain products.

Volunteers trained by Quebec’s department of agriculture, fisheries and food check the fridges' contents every day. The Corporation de développement économique communautaire de Sherbrooke, which instigated one of these projects, explains it was motivated by a desire to both reduce food waste and combat food insecurity.

There are initiatives like these in every province all across the country. In fact, these types of initiatives are found all around the world. Unfortunately, the Canadian government is lagging behind other governments in the world. In 2014, Martin Gooch was already saying that Canada was trailing compared to other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, and to a number of initiatives in the United States and in Europe, for example.

Since then, France has passed legislation to significantly reduce food waste in that country. On March 17, in Italy, a legislative measure to reduce food waste was passed by the vast majority of members. Even the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has launched initiatives to fight against food waste around the world.

The Canadian government has to get on board and be a leader in this file. That is why I wanted to introduce a bill calling on the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to work with his provincial and territorial counterparts to develop a national strategy to fight against the scourge of food waste. The minister will have six months to convene a conference with the provincial and territorial representatives. He will have a total of one year to develop a pan-Canadian strategy.

In my bill, I recommend that the strategy include a plan to educate the different stakeholders about the devastating impact of waste and best practices to be adopted; rigorous targets for waste reduction for the government; the tools needed to allow consumers to reduce food waste; and various ways of reducing the environmental impact of the production of unused food resources. Raising public awareness should be very important because people change their habits over time.

For this reason, I believe that it is truly relevant and important to create a national food waste awareness day. After consulting a number of stakeholders, we chose October 16, which is the same date chosen by France. Some people had reservations about the possible negative effect of selecting the same day as World Food Day. I am open to changing the date when permitted by the legislative process.

The time is right for holding a debate and establishing a national strategy to reduce food waste.

When the bill was introduced, many groups and stakeholders said that they were pleased to see a debate on food waste, here, in the House of Commons. Among them, Centraide Mauricie and Moisson Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec believe that it is important to support this bill.

Mr. Boutet, chair of the board of directors for Centraide Mauricie, is very much in favour of this bill. In fact, he publicly supported it because food recovery is essential to his organization. He does not understand why we waste so much food, when some people do not have any. According to him, the results of food waste are disastrous because food insecurity is associated with significant health and learning problems and school dropouts.

I repeat: food recovery does not eliminate food insecurity at its source, but it is currently helping hundreds of thousands of people.

I would also like to invite all members to read the study authored by Éric Ménard from Université de Sherbrooke. Mr. Ménard is a lecturer, blogger, and food waste expert. Recently, in January 2013, he published a research report on food waste. The study was conducted here in Canada, more specifically in Sherbrooke. It shows the disastrous consequences of food waste in Canada. It helps us to better understand how big of a problem this is both here in Canada and internationally. Mr. Ménard strongly supports our bill. It is high time that we had a strategy in this regard.

I would now like to come back to the study that was conducted by the Value Chain Management Centre, which shows how important it is to put an end to food waste now.

In 2014, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food heard from Martin Gooch, the chief executive officer of this organization, around the same time that I moved my motion on waste. This organization shows how important it is to combat food waste and also offers solutions to eliminate food waste at no cost. This study also highlights the scope of the issue and offers solutions that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food could adopt or use as inspiration.

I would like to highlight the work that many countries around the world are doing. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is focused on the need to take action against food waste. The international community is watching, so now is the time to act and to show some leadership. We have the perfect opportunity to work with other nations. We must absolutely keep this momentum going. Now is the time for the Canadian government to show some leadership. This is important to our future.

In closing, the House can see that food waste is a scourge in Canada, and the situation is not improving. Food waste is important to all of us, and there are some simple solutions. This bill does not include a lot of restrictions. We are simply calling on the government to establish a national food waste awareness day and to conduct a study. I am opening the door to my colleagues, and I hope to have their support.

I am now prepared to take questions from my colleagues.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

May 12th, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I applaud my colleague for bringing the bill forward. I think that, as we have seen from the different movements throughout Europe, and France in particular, about being more cautious about the way we treat wasted food, that the bill is extremely timely. I am glad we can bring this issue to centre stage, because I think it is an issue we need to be talking about in this room.

I am curious as to what degree the sponsor of the bill consulted with the different stakeholders: those who would be affected, those who would distribute the wasted food, those who would be responsible for collecting it, as well as any of the administrative aspects that go along with this. I wonder if she had an opportunity to consult those stakeholders and if she has any information she could give us regarding that.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

May 12th, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

In the last Parliament, in 2014, I tabled a motion on food waste, and that was because of consultation, because of witnesses coming before committee talking about food waste, and because of seeing what was happening in my community and across Canada.

Certain cities and businesses have adopted strategies. We have seen supermarkets donate food. There was a great project in Montreal and one in la Mauricie as well, working with the supermarkets, taking the food, testing it along the way, transforming it, adding value to it, and feeding people. There are a lot of things that can be done. I decided this time to have a bill, because I thought it was really important.

A lot of the food waste is done at home. Years ago, I would open my fridge and there would be furry fruit and all kinds of stuff. I did not know how to take care of my food. Therefore, I think there is a lot of work that can done just to educate people on how to take of their food at home to reduce food waste.

The other aspect was asking the minister to work with his provincial colleagues to talk about food waste. We have seen what has been done in France and other countries. I did not want to be so prescriptive, but I thought we could look at food labelling and expiration dates. There are a lot of things we can do.

It is not prescriptive, but I think it is really important to have this debate on the floor of the House of Commons. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues, and I am open to amending certain parts of the bill. It is important that we act and see what we can do to help facilitate food, to share it and feed people who are hungry. We can also look at the whole environmental impact of it, because we do have a lot to do to fight climate change.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

May 12th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé for bringing forward this very important bill.

As the member well knows, the NDP has done a lot of work in the area of food security. I think specifically of Malcolm Allen, the former member of Parliament for Welland, and Alex Atamanenko, the former member of Parliament for British Columbia Southern Interior, who together developed a pan-Canadian food strategy.

I would like to hear the member's thoughts on how her particular bill fits in with that overall strategy and the important conversation that our country needs to have on food security more generally.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

May 12th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the food strategy that I had the pleasure of working on with Malcolm Allen and Alex Atamanenko was a great experience. We were able to produce a document about food from the farm to the plate. It had a lot of great aspects, and we are very happy to see that the new government is going to elaborate on a food strategy.

It is very important that we have a long-term vision for agriculture here in Canada and not just piecemeal projects or programs that start and end every few years. We need predictability.

Here in Canada, as the member knows, we have a lot of people who are food insecure. Sadly, a lot of people, and a lot of children, use food banks. Food banks were created to solve a problem and feed people for a short period of time, we all hoped. However, still today, we have food banks here in Canada, and about 900,000 people use them, and a lot of them are children.

The adoption of this bill, and hopefully getting it to committee, would start a great discussion about how we could better handle our food at home and work with initiatives that are done locally in our communities, cities, and provinces. We have to work hard to deal with this, because it an economic issue, an environmental issue, and a social issue. I hope that, with this bill getting to committee, we can have a great discussion and have witnesses come.

Canada could really take a leadership role in dealing with food waste, because we have so much work to do compared to other countries.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

May 12th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jean-Claude Poissant LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for raising the important issue of food waste.

These ideas are valid, but we think we need more time to look closely at the issue and develop a national food policy with a specific action plan. Food waste is a complex issue that spans the whole system from farmers' fields to families' dining tables.

That is why we believe we should talk about a national strategy for our government, which our government pledged to develop. An increasing number of Canadians are becoming concerned about food loss and waste because it is a societal phenomenon that will affect our children and grandchildren.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that one-third of the food available worldwide is lost or wasted every year. That amounts to $750 billion. In May 2015, G20 agriculture ministers recognized that food waste is an international issue.

Then, in April of this year, the G7 agriculture ministers, including the hon. Lawrence MacAulay, agreed that they should take action to reduce food waste and strengthen food security.

Fruits and vegetables are the food products most likely to be wasted and account for nearly half of all food wasted worldwide. Food is wasted at every stage of the agri-food system. We estimate that these losses account for approximately 30% to 40% of the food produced throughout the value chain.

As for Canadian households, food waste represents about $14.5 billion, the larger share of the value of overall food losses in the country in 2014.

In 2009, over 1.5 billion tonnes of food were lost or wasted around the world, which is enough food to feed one billion people every day for an entire year. We can and we must do better when it comes to managing food waste. That is why Canadians need a strong and equitable food policy that meets their needs.

As we know, food waste is problem that has a serious impact on the food security of Canadian families and on the environment.

Our government is committed to working with Canadians to develop a national food policy. It will develop this policy in order to promote healthy living and the quality of Canadian food, as well as to provide families across the country with better, healthier food grown and raised by Canadian farmers and producers.

We will invite the different levels of government, the agri-food industry, and sector stakeholders, including dietitians, environmental groups, organizations that promote food security, and all Canadians to participate in this policy development process.

The issue of food waste will certainly be addressed as part of the discussions. This is a government-wide issue that goes beyond the responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture, which increases the complexity of the file. Food waste also touches on the mandate of many government agencies and industry organizations, given that this is an important issue for agriculture, security, and the environment.

We agree with the member for Berthier—Maskinongé that food waste is a serious problem. We are presently addressing the problem from various angles.

Our government has invested $38.5 million to modernize Canada's food security system.

We will also invest $70 million in research in order to invigorate the agricultural sector and develop new and innovative techniques to reduce food losses in the primary production phase and to analyze and quantify the food lost or wasted, among other things.

We are concerned about the food security of Canadian families, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers across the country are trying to reduce agricultural losses in order to address this issue. Reducing food losses, increasing the amount of food, the shelf life of food, and the decay of horticultural products are at the top of our list of priorities.

We even have researchers in British Columbia overseeing a post-harvest research program, whose results could be of interest to the international community that wishes to work on reducing food waste.

As we saw, our research centres are involved in many activities to reduce losses and to work down the food chain. In addition to the techniques to reduce food waste, there are techniques to recycle organic waste from food. A company in British Columbia has developed a technique using insects to convert food waste from grocery stores into products that farmers can use to feed their animals and fertilize their crops. The project received financial assistance through the growing forward 2 program, following an agreement between the federal government and British Columbia.

This issue is important to our government. Environment and Climate Change Canada is also a key player when it comes to addressing food waste. It has formed a partnership with the North American Free Trade Agreement Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The partnership supports efforts to reduce food waste in landfills by looking for ways to reduce food waste in industry, businesses, and institutions.

Our government will continue to act in this file. We will talk about food waste as part of our discussions preceding the development of a national food policy with sector representatives.

As a farmer, I am particularly sensitive to the issue of food security. When I decided to go into politics, I made it my mission to help every Canadian family have access to good-quality, healthy food. I am making it my personal duty to fight tooth and nail for this cause and improve the quality of life of our families.

After meeting with many organizations that are working to eliminate food insecurity, such as Food Secure Canada, the Dietitians of Canada, La Corne d'abondance, and Complexe le Partage, I saw that food waste is a major factor that must be included in a national food policy.

We will not support this bill because we believe that the best solution is to first consult Canadians and the industry. We believe that food waste will be part of those discussions, and the information obtained from the consultations will be used to develop a national food policy that reflects Canadians' wishes and values.

Once again, I would like to thank the member for raising this issue so that the industry and all Canadians can make real changes and reduce waste at every stage of the food processing chain, from farm to table.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

May 12th, 2016 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Grande Prairie—Mackenzie, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to stand in the House this evening to speak to Bill C-231.

I want to thank my friend from the NDP for bringing this bill forward to the House. It is an important bill. It provides an opportunity for us to have a discussion about food security in Canada today.

The title of the bill is probably as complex as the bill could be: an act to establish national food waste awareness day and to provide for the development of a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada. That describes exactly what is delineated within the bill.

The first part of the bill does something which I think we could all get our heads around and absolutely support, and that is to create a national day to bring awareness to food. It would be called the national food awareness day. By and large, we in this House could all agree that would be an important thing for us to do.

I grew up on a farm. I am a proud farm kid. I am really proud of the work and the vocation my parents were involved in, creating healthy food for people not only in Canada but around the world. The vast majority of what is produced in many parts of the Prairies actually gets exported around the world. We as Canadians can be very proud of the fact that we are supplying food for hungry people around the world.

When I was a young farm kid, I spent a fair bit of time helping my parents on the farm. One thing that I became aware of very early in my life is that any bit of waste is unacceptable. The reason was it is not good to waste food, but as a farmer knows and any farm kid knows, every bit of the produce or every bit of the grain that one's family produces is the income that the family lives off. By and large, farmers are probably some of the most careful people when it comes to ensuring that food waste does not in fact happen, especially at the farm.

I should note that it would be important for us to have a national food awareness day for another reason. As our communities and our country become more urban-centric, as people move off the farms, as fewer people are required on the farms to produce the food, people get further and further away from where food is produced.

As a farm kid living in a community of farmers, I knew very clearly from a very young age that not only do farmers not waste food, but farmers also make sure that they grow the healthiest food. They care for the animals they raise. They are probably some of the greatest stewards of our environment, of our animal health and welfare, and of the land generally. They know that this is going to have an impact on their bottom line.

There is also another point. Farmers are very proud of what they do. They are very proud to be able to produce the best quality and the safest food in the world. Canadian farmers produce the best quality and the safest food anywhere in the world. We as Canadians can be proud of this.

If we were to consider having a national food awareness day, I think one of the things we would want to do is celebrate the success of Canadian agriculture and the people who make sure that we have some of the safest and best quality food in the world.

We would also want to celebrate some of the advancements that have happened over time, the technologies and the modern farming practices that make sure that in Canada today we produce more food than we ever have. We also do it at less cost, using less land, with less water, and less of an impact on the environment than we ever have. That is all because of the modern practices that we use. These include the introduction of new tilling practices when farmers plant their crops on the Prairies. It includes the introduction of GMO crops, and some of the plant breeding that has happened to increase the productivity of our crops, and also to reduce the amount of water that is necessary for these crops to grow and thrive.

We have also seen a number of other advancements that have really seen the ability to grow more commodity on less land mass, which means that we continue to feed not only Canadians but people around the world.

There is a lot to celebrate, especially when it comes to primary agriculture in Canada. A national food awareness day is where we would want to start. It is about really understanding where food comes from. It is about reminding our urban friends that farm families across Canada do an admirable job of growing crops and fostering a brand that we can be proud of the world over, which is that we produce the safest and the best-quality food in the world.

I did talk to my friend before I started speaking. It will not surprise my friend that the second part of the bill is the part that I am a bit more concerned about, and that is the part that talks about having a national strategy. That is when we introduce government into the equation and encourage government to solve a problem. A number of things that were included in the strategy were articulated by my friend in the bill, one of which would include a national awareness campaign.

A national awareness campaign is probably quite an important thing to do, in terms of reminding people that we all have a responsibility to reduce food waste. Any food waste means that food is not being used to nourish people, and there are many people who could use food that might otherwise go to waste.

We have to consider who we would want involved in this. The government is not necessarily the best group to lead any conversation on this issue. I reflect upon some of the greatest successes when it comes to reducing food waste in Canada. The charitable sector has been working on this for years.

In my own life, my parents and my grandparents here in Canada concerned themselves with food waste. There was a time when a lot of Canadians had gardens. The initial way that everyone made sure there was no food waste was to share it with neighbours, if they had more than they could eat in their gardens. If they had too much of something, they would trade it with their neighbours for something else.

Things evolve over time, and people have moved off farms and do not have gardens anymore. Things change. Other groups step in, such as churches, the Salvation Army, food banks, to ensure that nobody goes hungry within their communities. These organizations have been in existence since Canada has been here. Canadians care about one another. We care about our neighbours. We continue to install different systems because we truly care about our neighbours and we want to make sure that nobody goes hungry. We have instituted a number of these things.

Over the last number of years, as some of these programs have become antiquated or are not addressing the need that might be out there, other groups have stepped up and introduced new disruptive technologies that have changed the way that food waste is reduced.

We have things like Food Cowboy, which is a technology company that has created an app. It basically provides companies with the ability to donate surplus food to nearby charities, and organic waste composters and farmers and biogas generators, to ensure that the food does not fall into landfills but goes to another purpose. I was not familiar with this company, but I was inspired when I did some research on it. Food Cowboys now serves over 400 charities and has about 200 donors. It has significantly reduced the amount of food waste from restaurants and other food establishments, as well as retail stores and others.

There are also companies like Froodly in Finland that basically does the same. It attracts best before dates and makes sure that food that might otherwise fall into landfills is highlighted so that people could get discounts on those foods.

There are a number of things that have happened.

The folks who do a lot of the processing in Canada are already doing a great job in terms of ensuring that food is not wasted, because for them it is also about the bottom line. They have a strategy to ensure that they donate to food banks as much as they can. As a matter of fact, those surveyed said that 92% of their organizations donate to food banks on a regular basis.

The private sector is doing a good job and the public sector is there to assist those who are doing it. I think there is an opportunity for us to cheer on those who are doing a good job. The charitable sector, the private sector are doing an incredible job. We do not want to stand in the way of that. We want to incentivize them to do those things. The last thing we want to do is add additional red tape for what is increasingly the Canadian way to ensure that nobody goes hungry here in Canada.

Fight Against Food Waste ActPrivate Members' Business

May 12th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand here with my colleague, the member for Berthier—Maskinongé, in support of a bill to develop a national strategy to reduce food waste.

The numbers here are compelling. Canadians waste approximately 27 billion dollars' worth of food every year, food that is landfilled or composted. The true cost of that food waste might be more like $107 billion a year, if we include the labour costs, transportation, and capital investments in infrastructure and inventory.

Globally, and this is the terrible link, 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year, yet 870 million go hungry every day. Just this morning a number of parliamentarians heard at breakfast from Laval University professor Jean Caron. He said one billion more people could be fed in this world if we went ahead and reduced food waste in the food chain by more than 50%, which he and a number of other activists say is absolute doable.

Right back in Canada, almost 2.5 million Canadians experience food insecurity, and over 800,000 visit food banks every month. In a country as wealthy as ours, this is shameful. Since 2008, the number of people turning to food banks has increased by over 25%. Close to 900,000 households in Canada are food insecure, and a few years ago the UN's special rapporteur harshly criticized the right to food in Canada under the Conservative government.

Connecting food waste with people in need is what people in Nanaimo—Ladysmith have done, and I am so proud of the success stories that are coming out of our riding.

Loaves and Fishes is a community food bank in Nanaimo. After many years of just working to try to get people fed who were in need, they had this brilliant innovation. They put the donations they were able to receive into refrigerator trucks and they now drive all around the riding. They might get a phone call from a shipping company that says they got stuck in a ferry line and now they cannot deliver their load of cheese or whatever under the conditions that were guaranteed before, but it is still good if they want to come and get it. They will go and get a whole pallet of food. They have processes around food safety that they have negotiated with the provincial and federal governments on a one-off basis, and they are able to assure their volunteers and their food bank clients that this food is good.

We have people in poverty in Nanaimo who are eating rack of lamb, and it is fantastic that this is a choice they can make and that their food bank offerings are not only the traditional canned goods. We have something like 600 local volunteers at Loaves and Fishes who are helping this non-profit sort and distribute food throughout the riding, and last year alone, the food recovery program of Loaves and Fishes saved 2.5 million dollars' worth of fresh food. It is fantastic.

That food goes to 30 different non-profits, who in turn distribute it to their own clients, and to schools as well for their lunch programs. It is helping over 8,000 people a month. This is due to the partnership with the grocery stores, with volunteers, and with shipping companies. It is very much a collaborative exercise and I wish that it was more common. We would love to find ways to get out of the way of the innovation of local organizations such as Loaves and Fishes and have this be a model that happens all over the country.

This is exactly what the MP for Berthier—Maskinongé is asking the government to strategize on, just these sorts of donations of unsold food. It does not cost donors anything. In fact, it can relieve the grocery stores of a great deal of cost around disposal, but better co-operation between food banks and retailers is needed. That would reduce food waste and would reduce food insecurity in our region.

Bill C-231 encourages this and it provides the tools to make it happen. The process that it proposes could well reassure non-profits that they will be supported if they do this important work safely.

Worldwide, food waste is a major problem, and that has been recognized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Union of Wholesale Markets.

Most famously, to date, France has led the charge on this. Just a year go, it was the first country to legislate against food waste. Part of that was amending the legal framework to remove the liability for donors. There is now a push to make that law European Union-wide.

In 1996, the United States adopted a similar kind of legislation where voluntary food donations were covered by legislation. That makes everybody volunteering in the field feel just a bit more secure and protected.

The need here is so great. In my province, British Columbia, more than 100,000 people were assisted by food banks last year, 32% of whom were children. The Ladysmith food bank and the Nanaimo Loaves & Fishes food bank said 3,600 individuals accessed their food banks last year. Of those, 31% were children.

In a more focused area of needs, the Canadian Network of Women's Shelters and Transition Houses say that 75% of Canadian shelters rely upon food donations. This is both to meet the needs of women in shelters and also to support them and their children when they transition out of domestic violence shelters.

Another great story, in the same vein, is about a local non-profit called Nanaimo Foodshare. Through its community and school programs, it is teaching people around buying food in season, shopping locally, cooking from scratch, food management, how to compost, how to cut the amount of food wasted. It also has a paid gleaning coordinator who is funded through a provincial grant. That person connects people who have unharvested vegetables and fruit trees groaning with apples, organizes carpooling of volunteers to harvest that food, and then, again, redistributing them throughout the community.

In one season alone, Nanaimo Foodshare saved over 400,300 kilograms of fresh produce.

Again, people who are using food banks need to access fresh produce. It is good for local farmers; it is better for nutrition. We need to include all these innovative ideas into a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada.

The tenets of Bill C-231 are to build that strategy against food waste, to assist consumers to reduce food waste, to facilitate the donation of food by the private sector, and to study the environmental impact of food waste. Those environmental impacts are significant. It is not just the land that is taken up by landfilling, but it is also the methane that is generated, which is a tremendous greenhouse gas amplifier and is something that really exacerbates climate change. It is an unnecessary use of land. It is bad for climate change. If we can keep food out of the landfill and redistribute it to people in need, that is better for everybody. Perfectly good food should not be landfilled when people go hungry.

We want the Canadian government to be a leader in this area and to implement tools so all stakeholders in the supply chain, from farmers to consumers, can reduce their food waste.

This can be done by removing barriers to donations from the private sector of goods that are imperfect, but goods that are welcomed by community groups and food banks. They are doing the front-line work of fighting insecurity and this national work can be done by supporting Bill C-231.

In my final moments, I want to celebrate, as my colleague before me just has, the work of some of our local farmers.

I am inspired every time I am at home by the Boulton family on Gabriola Island. Eric Boulton is, I believe, 85 years old. He is still driving the tractor. When our provincial government put rules in place that really impeded the ability of local farmers to slaughter meat and sell it in their own communities, the family hung on. It thought it was going to improve food safety, but in fact it really interfered with local food production. This tenacious farmer just hung on and got his slaughterhouse re-certified by the provincial government. He now sells beef to local restaurants. Our biggest grocery store, Village Food Market, and the McCollum family are very strong supporters of local produce. We can buy locally-raised beef right there.

The Boulton family is a great donor of its organic turkeys and other meats that it grows and slaughters at home on its huge farm. It donates that directly to charities, to partners like the People For a Healthy Community. Its annual Christmas dinner is a festive, beautiful time. It has all local produce, the best turkeys one will ever have. It is a great example of celebration at the community level, a great example of farmers' support.