moved that Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House this evening for the first hour of debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day.
It is easy to love Bill C-281. I tabled this bill almost two years ago, and it has been a project filled with passion for me and my team ever since. Bill C-281 would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving each year as national local food day.
We all know that food matters, from farm to factory to fork. My history, like that of many members of this House, has its roots in local food. My Ukrainian father George's side of the family had their Canadian start as Saskatchewan farmers in the Yorkton area. My first paid employment as a youth was picking rocks and baling hay for farmers when we lived in Beechy, Saskatchewan.
On my Norwegian mother Solveig's side of the family, my grandfather and my uncles built a boat in The Pas, Manitoba, and put it on the Muskeg Express train to Churchill, becoming the first Europeans to harvest fish commercially in Hudson Bay.
Local food is truly a part of my heritage, and I know that is also true for many members serving in the House of Commons today. According to Statistics Canada, agriculture contributed $111.9 billion and accounted for 6.7% of Canada's GDP in 2016.
The agriculture and agrifood sector as a whole provides one in eight Canadian jobs, employing 2.3 million people. A little known fact is that the food and beverage processing industry is one of the largest manufacturing industries in Canada, and it is Canada's largest manufacturing employer.
Food is at the heart of our homes, our communities, and our economy. Ensuring that Canadians have access to healthy, affordable food and a sustainable food system are national priorities. Supporting our local food systems is essential to achieving these goals.
A 2015 lpsos Reid poll found that 83% of Canadians think it is important to know where their food comes from. The Conference Board of Canada found that 77% of Canadian consumers think locally produced is important when making their purchasing decisions.
It is clear that a national local food day is something everyone can get behind. National local food day would provide an annual opportunity for Canadians to celebrate the diversity of local food across the country, while also providing an opportunity to draw attention to the very real challenges many face in accessing healthy, affordable food close to home.
British Columbians are proud of their local food systems, from farmers and ranchers, to fishers and hunters, to winemakers and craft brewers, to artisans and restaurateurs.
According to the 2016 agriculture census, small farms now comprise 40% of the total farms in British Columbia, more than twice the national average. The total gross farm receipts in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia exceeded $65 million in 2016 alone.
Across the country, one in eight Canadian farm operators uses direct marketing to sell his or her products to Canadians, through farm gate sales and stands, farmers' markets, community-supported agriculture initiatives, and other methods. It has been estimated that farmers' markets contribute over $3 billion annually to the Canadian economy.
The British Columbia Association of Farmers' Markets represents more than 145 markets across the province. A study it conducted in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia found that farmers' markets contributed $170.5 million to B.C.'s economy in 2012 alone. The association estimates that most markets are started by community members wanting to increase access to fresh, seasonal produce in their area.
Kootenay—Columbia is home to many farmers' markets spread throughout the riding: in Cranbrook and Creston, Nelson and Revelstoke, Salmo and Kaslo, lnvermere and Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford, Golden and Baynes Lake. Over the past two years, I have visited almost every one of these markets, and I am always struck by the passion our local producers and artisans have for the work that they do and, of course, by how delicious the food is.
From the dairy farms and orchards of Creston, to the Fernie Cattle Company steak house, to delicious coffee and craft beer everywhere, we really are spoiled.
My lnstagram feed is full of pictures from my riding of people who got out and enjoyed the sunny spring weather that has finally come to our great nation. That sunny weather has me thinking about Creston Valley asparagus.
I am looking forward to our next break week so I can stop by Sutcliffe Farms and watch the asparagus grow. I am not kidding: when the weather is hot in the spring, Creston Valley asparagus can grow up to one inch an hour. I know that when I speak of my riding, I often make reference to the snow-capped peaks of the Selkirk, Purcell, and Rocky mountains and speak of our world-class skiing and golfing, so members may be surprised to learn that the Creston Valley grows virtually every variety of vegetable, wine grapes, peaches, and even some citrus fruit. These local products are the basis for most of the meals served at the Farm Fresh Café in the Savoy Hotel in Nelson.
It is hard to say “café” and “Nelson” in the same sentence without conjuring up images of the beautiful Oso Negro Café, where people happily line up out the door to socialize, do their business, and drink some of the best locally roasted coffee anywhere. I say “some of the best” because Kootenay—Columbia is home to more than a dozen coffee roasters, including the Kootenay Roasting Company in Cranbrook, Stoke Roasted Coffee in Revelstoke, Steam Donkey Coffee in Kimberley, Kaslo's Bean Roasting in Kaslo, Zaltana Coffee Roasters in the Elk Valley, Rooftop Coffee Roasters in Fernie, Kootenay Coffee Company in Nelson, Bean Bag Coffee Roasters in Golden, Beanpod Chocolate Gelato and Coffee in Fernie, Stolen Church Coffee Company in Invermere, and of course Kicking Horse Coffee.
Kicking Horse Coffee is one of the largest employers in the town of Invermere. Its products are available across North America, and its annual sales are in the tens of millions of dollars. I had the pleasure of sharing a lunch with the CEO of Kicking Horse, Elana Rosenfeld, a few months ago. Elana is one of those bosses who goes to work every day with a smile on her face because she is passionate about her product, cares deeply about her employees, and is committed to the culture and community that helped shape her. Kicking Horse has been named a top-15 best workplace in Canada three times by the global research firm Great Place to Work. This year, Kicking Horse earned the top spot as 2018's best workplace in Canada for businesses with 100 to 1,000 employees and was also recognized as a best workplace for women and a best workplace for inclusion. We can buy Kicking Horse's delicious fair-trade and organic coffee at grocery stores across the country, including right here in Ottawa. I highly recommend that my colleagues pick up a bag.
Just down the highway from Kicking Horse Coffee is Hopkins Harvest in Windermere, a business started out of the back of a truck by Fred and Shelley Hopkins in 1995. It has since grown to what I would describe as one of the world's best roadside fruit and vegetable stands. It is now in a year-round market building, where customers can pick up freshly smoked wings or amazing pepperoni, in addition to produce sourced from local and regional growers. These days, Fred and Shelley's daughter Kerstan and her partner Matthew Larsen have expanded the business to include The Hot Spot, where customers can order delicious artisan pizza baked in a wood-fired oven and topped with locally produced ingredients, a great complement to local craft beer from lnvermere's Arrowhead Brewing Company. Also, they have gone green with their energy consumption. The roof of their store is covered in solar panels.
Speaking of craft beer, in Kootenay—Columbia, like most of B.C., we are spoiled when it comes to beer crafted specifically for local tastes. Torchlight, Backroads, Nelson, Fisher Peak, Over Time, Fernie, Whitetooth, and Angry Hen are all local breweries serving local restaurants and supporting local families.
Craft liquor is also a growing industry, led by producers like Bohemian Spirits in Kimberley and Pommier Ranch Meadery from Premier Lake.
I know I am making some members hungry and thirsty, so I will move on, but before I do, I also want give a quick shout-out to the 2017 Canadian craft brewery of the year, Mt. Begbie Brewing in Revelstoke, founded by Bart and Tracey Larson. Bart has a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, but, as he says, he prefers to make beer, not war, in Revelstoke. I hope he continues to do so for many years to come.
It is clear that along with connecting Canadians to those that grow and produce their food, our local food systems make important social contributions to our communities.
In my riding, the Revelstoke farmers' market has partnered with Revelstoke Community Connections on a food recovery program that has diverted tens of thousands of pounds of food out of the landfill and into the hands of the community's vulnerable citizens. Earlier this month, the Cranbrook Farmer's Market was honoured as the non-profit of the year by the local chamber of commerce at its business excellence awards.
The Cranbrook Food Action committee is a coalition of committed individuals and local organizations. Their work over the last 14 years has included organizing community kitchens, hosting community education events and workshops, laying the groundwork for the formation of the Cranbrook Farmer's Market, community food mapping, and creating the public produce garden at Eric MacKinnon Park, where everyone is welcome to seed, weed, and harvest food.
The Golden Food Bank serves more than 100 families every month, including through a food bank garden, where volunteers grow fresh, local produce for the food bank's clients. They have also participated in local school breakfast and food recovery programs. On Saturday, May 12, the Golden Food Bank is hosting a Fill-a-Raft food drive and BBQ, where community members will help the food bank fill a whitewater raft with food donations. Participants will be entered to win a rafting trip for two with the Glacier Raft Company. This is a wonderful example of a local community coming together to support a local food system that works for everyone.
Creston & District fields forward initiative is a partnership working to support local food and farming in communities from Yahk to Yaqan Nukiy to Riondel. Creston is also home to some amazing dairy farms, dairy products, cheeses, and wineries.
Fields forward's mission is to foster “a vibrant productive local agri-food system that builds genuine community wealth by supporting and sustaining the community's environmental, indigenous, social, cultural, economic and aesthetic values.” This collaborative network, made up of more than 80 producers, organizations, businesses, and local government, is currently piloting an important food venture collaborative, which will bring together private, public, and community partners to identify emerging market opportunities and to address shared agri-food infrastructure needs. Their mobile fruit and vegetable press project has been estimated to contribute almost $775,000 per year to the local economy.
The Conference Board of Canada has said that, “Local food can be a way for firms to illustrate their commitment to local communities and farmers”. Across this country, restaurants and food festivals have made this kind of commitment to local producers and communities by putting the focus on locally grown and locally produced products, and their success continues to grow.
In my riding, the West Kootenay EcoSociety promotes sustainable food systems through the Nelson Garden Festival and a number of community market events, including Nelson MarketFest.
In Revelstoke, the Local Food Initiative society hosts a variety of community events and education programs, including the Incredible Edible Film Festival, seed sales, local food dinners, youth food camps, and others, drawing attention and bringing a fresh perspective to a variety of food issues.
These are just a few examples of what it can look like when communities come together to support local food systems.
Local food looks different across all regions of this vast country, but at its core, food brings us together. It is, after all, more than a commodity. It is an essential human need, and it is at the centre of our culture and our communities.
I say to my colleagues that this is an important opportunity to celebrate what local food looks like to them, their communities, and their constituents. I invite my colleagues to get their constituents involved using #celebratelocalfood or #CélébronslAlimentationLocale from coast to coast to coast. Let us recognize the hard work of local producers and harvesters, food manufacturers, farmers' markets, and others. Let us work together to make national local food day a reality.