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.