Food Day in Canada Act

An Act to establish Food Day in Canada


This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.


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

This enactment designates the Saturday before the first Monday in August in each and every year as “Food Day in Canada”.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Nov. 2, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill S-227, An Act to establish Food Day in Canada

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 5:40 p.m.
See context


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

moved that Bill S-227, An Act to establish Food Day in Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to begin debate at second reading of Bill S-227, the food day in Canada act. I am especially pleased to begin debate on this bill on what in Ontario is agriculture week. Agriculture week in Ontario is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing farmers and farm families that quite literally grow the food that not only feeds our country but helps to feed the world. In fact, in Ontario, agriculture week was created by one of my constituents and the former local member of provincial parliament for what was then the riding of Perth, Mr. Bert Johnson, so I am especially pleased to begin debate on food day in Canada during agriculture week.

This Senate public bill was first introduced in the other place by the Hon. Rob Black, senator for Wellington County. This bill proposes to establish, each and every year, the Saturday before the first Monday in August as food day in Canada. This day would formally establish food day in Canada. I say “formally” because food day in Canada has been informally celebrated and recognized in Wellington County, in southern Ontario and in some parts across Canada for nearly 20 years. In fact, on this past food day in Canada, on July 30, landmarks across Canada were lit in red and white to celebrate food day in Canada. From the Confederation Building in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, to Vancouver's city hall, and from the Calgary Tower in Calgary, Alberta, to the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, these landmarks were lit in red and white to celebrate food in Canada, from the farmer's field to the fork.

I am especially pleased that food day in Canada is being celebrated and championed by all four federal representatives for Wellington County. In addition to being sponsored by me, the House of Commons' sponsor of the bill, and the Hon. Senator Rob Black, representative for Wellington County in the Senate, the bill is supported by the member for Wellington—Halton Hills and the member for Guelph. It is obviously not a partisan bill, but one we can all unite behind to celebrate food day in Canada.

I want to step back a bit and reflect on the origins of food day in Canada.

Some members will recall the summer of 2003. It was a difficult summer for many Canadians, especially those living in rural Ontario. There was a surge in the West Nile virus, the SARS virus had reached Ontario and there was a massive power blackout that summer. However, in the agriculture sector specifically, it was a summer known for the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as BSE or by the colloquial term “mad cow disease”.

This crisis quite literally devastated the beef industry overnight. In moments, the cattle industry was in fear and panic, and Canada's trading partners slammed the door shut on Canadian exports of beef to the United States and to dozens of other countries around the globe. With these border closures, the livelihoods of thousands of hard-working farmers and farm families in the beef industry were decimated quite literally overnight.

A report from Statistics Canada at the time said this of the BSE crisis:

Prior to May 2003, Canada was the third largest exporter of beef in the world. In 2002, Canada's export market for beef amounted to about $4.1 billion.

On May 20, 2003, however, the nation's beef industry was rocked by a totally unexpected development: a single breeder cow in northern Alberta had tested positive for...BSE, more commonly known as mad cow disease. Within hours, most nations had imposed a ban on Canadian beef products.

By June 2003, Canadian beef producers had seen their exports to the United States drop from $288 million a month to zero.

However, while our farmers were working through this crisis, a passionate defender of Canadian agriculture from Wellington County named Anita Stewart stood up and started a movement to grow and inspire trust that our farmers would pull through this difficult time. It was in those dark days, in the sunny summer of 2003, that Anita Stewart began the first Food Day in Canada.

As the current coordinator for Food Day Canada, Crystal Mackay, describes it:

Anita Stewart was a food activist and pioneer who had the vision for ‘shop local food’ before it was a trend. The BSE crisis in 2003 was a turning point for her when she saw restaurants and Canadians buying beef from other countries at a time when our own Canadian beef farmers and ranchers were suffering huge financial losses and stress. She turned that tragedy into a tremendous opportunity to have a conversation with our country about the value of supporting our own incredible food system.

Canadians are humble people. Food Day Canada breaks us out of that for a day to truly celebrate the incredible people in our food system and the world class food we have here grown close to home.

That first Food Day in 2003 was known as the world’s longest barbecue. From that one event that Anita Stewart created to bring people together to pull through those challenging days, it has grown into so much more. In fact, in recognition of Anita Stewart's commitment to the food system in Canada, she was awarded membership in the Order of Canada. The Governor General's citation for that achievement says:

Anita Stewart is an enthusiastic and dedicated promoter of Canadian cuisine. Called a culinary activist, she has spent the last 30 years exploring Canada, sometimes even by dog sled and on Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers, discovering and chronicling the stories of the essential foods of our nation and the talented people who serve them.... She is...a passionate volunteer and the founder of Cuisine Canada and Food Day Canada.

Sadly, nearly two years ago, Anita Stewart passed away at the age of 73. She had done so much in her lifetime, and her loss has been felt not only by those close to her, but by the entire food and agriculture community.

As Dr. Charlotte Yates, president of the University of Guelph, said at an event this summer to honour Food Day, “Food Day Canada is a grassroots movement that brings thousands of individuals and partners together.” She said, “in many ways we are here today in celebration of being able to carry on Anita’s legacy. Anita believed more than anything in the power of food to bring people together.”

In addition to being the first food laureate at the University of Guelph, the university's food lab is also named in Anita Stewart's honour. At that same event I just referenced at the University of Guelph in July, I had the pleasure of meeting one of Anita’s four sons, Jeff Stewart. He told me about his late mother's lifetime of dedicated work and her passion for Canadian food, and it lives both through her family and also through Food Day in Canada.

Last week, Jeff and his three brothers, Brad, Mark and Paul, sent me a message about their late mother and what Food Day means to them. They wrote:

Since the 1970's, our mother, Anita Stewart, has been uniting Canadians through food. 20 years ago, she created Food Day Canada...a national celebration of Canada’s unique, rich and diverse food culture.

Over the past 20 years, Food Day Canada has evolved into a national community, celebrating Canadian food and those who bring it to us. The goal of the associated Food Day Canada organization is to educate the public about Canada’s food system and culture, while elevating thinking about Canadian food sovereignty and food security. The organization and its members fully support Bill S-227, and will provide leadership, guidance and resources, to ensure that an Official Food Day in Canada lives up to its potential as a positive, spirited, diverse celebration for all Canadians.

By supporting this Bill, the honourable Members will take an historic step towards putting Canada on the map as a proud food leader, while also giving Canadians an opportunity to shop, cook, dine and celebrate Canada’s rich food culture.

We sincerely believe that an official Food Day in Canada will offer significant cultural benefits to Canadians and their families, with economic benefits for communities and businesses, as we echo our dear mother’s favourite credo together: “Canada IS food and the world is richer for it.”

Those were comments from Anita Stewart's four children.

Since that first Food Day in 2003, it has indeed grown into a wonderful celebration of the food our farmers grow and the food that all Canadians enjoy every single day, whether at their kitchen tables or at restaurant tables across the country. It is celebrated on the Saturday before the first Monday in August, making it land in many provinces, including my own, on the Saturday of the August long weekend.

I know people might ask why this should be an official day. It is because, out of the darkness of the 2003 BSE crisis, something wonderful emerged and we as Canadians have the opportunity now to recognize that positive outcome of a negative situation. Over these past two decades, Food Day Canada has grown to encompass not only our farmers but everyone along all the parts of our national food supply chain: those who work hard getting the seeds into the fields, those who harvest the crops, those who process the food and those who prepare and serve the wonderful and delicious meals on Canadian plates.

All of us have great things that we can celebrate in our ridings related to Canadian agriculture and Canadian food. Whether it is the fishermen in West Nova or the dairy farmer in Abbotsford or the farmer in Sarnia—Lambton, we all have things to celebrate.

Because I am the sponsor of this bill, I can brag a bit about the great riding of Perth—Wellington, where we have more dairy farmers and chicken farmers than any other electoral district in this country, and where chicken alone is produced at a rate of 103 million kilograms every year. In Perth—Wellington, we have 395 pig farms, 538 beef farms and 242,954 dairy or beef cattle. Collectively across this country, agriculture and agri-food accounts for $134.9 billion in GDP activity each and every year.

That is just talking about one aspect of all there is to celebrate. Given the long history that agriculture has had in the growth of our great nation and the meaning of food to our distinct cultural and multicultural heritage, surely Food Day in Canada is worthy of recognition nationwide on the last Saturday before the first Monday in August each year.

Canadians are hard-working and we are supportive of one another. That is the legacy of Anita Stewart and a point of pride in our agriculture and agri-food communities. Let us work together to pass Bill S-227 and give Food Day Canada the official recognition it deserves.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 5:55 p.m.
See context


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

I do want to thank the member for his walk down memory lane of 2003 in August when I was first elected as a provincial member and became a minister of agriculture. What he is talking about, I actually got to live.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Guelph.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 5:55 p.m.
See context


Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for bringing this bill into this place after Senator Black put it on the floor of the other place.

We met this summer on the lawn of the University of Guelph and Anita Stewart continues to bring us together across party lines, across levels of government and really across cultures. Could the hon. member maybe expand on how Anita's vision and humour brought people together, regardless of the differences they might have in other areas, so that we could all share a meal together?

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 5:55 p.m.
See context


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Guelph is absolutely right. The ability to share a meal among friends, among colleagues and sometimes among people whom you may not entirely agree with is so important to finding common ground. That is one of the great legacies of Anita Stewart. The member made a comment about an event we were at together at the University of Guelph. The comments from Dr. Yates, president of Guelph university, talked about those examples of where Anita was able to bring happiness and bring cheer to a room by sharing food. Whether on a university campus or in homes across the country, the ability to share those opportunities among all Canadians is so important.

Therefore, I thank the member for Guelph and I do believe he will be supporting this bill. I appreciate his support on this important matter.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 5:55 p.m.
See context


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I offer my personal congratulations and thanks to the member for Perth—Wellington for bringing this bill forward. This bill is no stranger to Parliament. Several parliaments have seen some version of it or another, and it is nice to see that we might have enough runway to get this passed into law.

As the agriculture critic for the last four and a half years, I have really been consumed by the theme of resiliency and how we build resiliency into our local food systems and communities. I am wondering if the member can share some thoughts about how this bill may further that conversation in building local resiliency in our communities.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 5:55 p.m.
See context


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I share the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford's optimism that, with enough runway, we will be able to get this bill through.

He talked about resiliency in the agriculture community and probably the defining word for farming and farm families across Canada is “resiliency” through difficult times. I want to pick on one specific aspect of resiliency, and that is the mental health aspect.

Farmers and farm families face challenges that are beyond the scope of so many other different industries, such as the unpredictability of the weather and of the markets. The challenge that farmers often face with mental health is not felt in other industries, so there is much more than we can do as parliamentarians to make that change.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

I am sorry to have to interrupt the member. The interpretation does not seem to be working.

It is now working.

I will ask the member for Perth—Wellington to answer the question again.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will again say that I hope, with the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, we will be able to get this bill passed in this Parliament to formally recognize it.

On the subject of resiliency, the member is absolutely right. Farmers and farm families are the most resilient people in the country. They face unknown challenges, whether it be weather, world markets or foreign markets that have an impact. Recognizing the challenges of mental health in agriculture is one of the aspects that we need to do more on. We need to be there to support farmers and farm families as they face those challenges that are unknown, unpredictable and affect not only their livelihoods but their families as well.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context


Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank my hon. colleague and congratulate him on introducing this bill in the House.

Mirabel is home to many farmers of all kinds of crops as well as dairy farmers and, of course, some wonderful maple syrup producers. I promised my constituents, including the farmers, that I would move a motion in the House to declare Mirabel the maple capital of the world.

I would like to know if my colleague will support my proposal or if he will side with his colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and his great proposal.

Yes, I know that a lot of maple syrup is produced in Quebec and in his riding. We also have great maple syrup producers in Perth—Wellington. Their product is very good. This bill also presents an opportunity to celebrate those who produce these very important products.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Francis Drouin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I am so proud to stand up for the opportunity to discuss Bill S-227 to establish a national food day in Canada on the first Saturday of August. In Ontario, that always represents a long weekend.

I want to thank Senator Black and the member for Perth—Wellington for sponsoring this particular bill. I know they live in a beautiful region. For me, there would be no reason to be in that region other than love. My in-laws are from there, from Hensall in particular, but I drive through Perth to get to Huron—Bruce. There is always a great opportunity for me to go there for occasions. Obviously food is always part of that discussion.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank my father-in-law, Bob Forrest, who has always educated me on food. He is a farmer and taught with Senator Black at a local community college in the Hensall area. He always has great advice on particular food policies, so I want to thank him.

I want to thank Senator Black as well for having the audacity to present such an important bill. I think the member for Perth—Wellington did such an amazing job at describing what Dr. Anita Stewart put forward and the reasons she did that. I do not think I need to go back to that, because the member for Perth—Wellington did an excellent job with it.

I want to talk about what this bill will mean for Canadians. It has been raised in the House that food brings people together from all walks of life and from all political backgrounds, and we are able to have great conversations. Some of us will have beer and some will have a glass of wine, and we may be prone to sharing more ideas, but the idea here is to celebrate food and celebrate the people who work in the food industry, including farmers.

At home, I love to cook. I am the cook at home because I love food. I love to please my family when I get to make a good home-cooked meal, but it also relaxes me. I get to learn recipes and get to learn from what other chefs are publishing online. I try to mimic what they are doing. I do not know if I am successful or not. Nobody here can attest to whether I am successful or not since the witnesses are not here, but it is a great occasion for me and such a great opportunity to taste food, especially local food.

That is what food day will be all about. It will be about celebrating what our local farmers are doing and what our local chefs are doing. I love the fact that it is not just about the franchisees across Canada that are doing this. We are also seeing a rural renaissance of local chefs who are using locally grown food. I want to thank them for thinking about that.

When I talk about agriculture or the bill to establish the first Monday in August as food day in Canada, I think about the Poirier berry farm back home, which grows raspberries. They are not necessarily the red raspberries that we find in supermarkets or grocery stores. They are special raspberries.

I want to thank Claude for his considerable efforts to promote local agriculture and create events on his farm that bring together people who work in the agri-food industry locally. I am thinking about the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network, which also promotes local food. I am also thinking about other stakeholders in our community.

I could not talk about agriculture and food without mentioning St. Albert cheese, a co‑operative that supports our local farmers and dairy producers. The member for Perth—Wellington mentioned that he too has the opportunity to represent them, since his riding has the largest number of dairy, egg and poultry producers.

I too have this opportunity in my riding. I am very proud of it, and I am very aware that our dairy farmers get up every morning to milk the cows. They do it again every evening.

We have talked about mental health and I think it is important to raise this issue. When our farmers have a medical certificate indicating they have to stay home, they are still staying in their place of work. That must be said. Therefore, on the first Saturday of August, it is important to celebrate the entire Canadian agri-food sector, but it is also important to think about our farmers and their mental health. I do not believe this aspect gets the attention it should.

Furthermore, the media do not talk about our farmers often enough. This day would be an occasion to showcase our farmers in the media. We have to talk more often of the excellent work done by farmers.

Today, in the House, we talked about resilience. Our farmers were resilient during COVID‑19. I am thinking, among other things, about all the supply chains that were repositioned. When I went to the food banks during COVID‑19, I could tell people that the egg producers had the generosity to make massive donations to food banks across Canada. Average eggs are usually sent to the restaurant sector, but since the restaurants were closed, the producers could no longer give them their eggs. I want to thank Canada's egg producers who worked very hard to ensure that these eggs were not wasted.

Our government brought in a food policy a few years ago. I think that more than $125 million has been invested to create a more resilient local infrastructure and to create local gardens. People mentioned Dr. Yates, from the University of Guelph, and I know that if the member for Guelph had the opportunity, she would mention her as well.

How do we attract talent to the agri-food industry? We often talk about using food to attract that talent. I also want to thank Dr. Evan Fraser, an incredible thinker who is also from the University of Guelph. I have had conversations with him, and we could talk for days on end. He is intelligent, forward-thinking and very passionate about agriculture. Dr. Fraser thinks about what agriculture will look like in five, 10 or 15 years, but also in 20 or 30 years. We need these kinds of thinkers to support our farmers in Canada.

I will conclude my speech by once again thanking my colleague from Perth—Wellington and expressing my full support for his bill.

I also want to thank Senator Black, who has worked in the agri-food industry for years. We need more people talking about agriculture and agri-food in the House. It is important. There is not a single Canadian today who can survive without food. We need to thank all Canadian farmers; they feed Canadians and they feed whole cities.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6:10 p.m.
See context


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks, I want to acknowledge and thank my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, who switched their spot with me so that I would be able to make committee tonight at 6:30 p.m.

I am very proud to be speaking to Bill S-227, and I want to acknowledge the member for Perth—Wellington for sponsoring it here in the House fo Commons, but also Senator Rob Black. I have known Senator Black for a little while now, and he and I share a definite passion for farming and soil health. It is nice to see that we have those kinds of champions not only for our agricultural sector, but for the key role that it plays in establishing food security in Canada. They recognize that farmers are going to be one of our greatest tools in effectively combatting climate change.

As I mentioned in my intervention with the member for Perth—Wellington, this bill is no stranger to Parliament. We have seen several versions of it over several Parliaments. I also want to acknowledge the former member for Kootenay—Columbia, Wayne Stetski, who was a colleague of mine for four years in this place during the 42nd Parliament. He introduced what I believe was Bill C-281. That bill actually passed through the House of Commons before arriving at the Senate, but unfortunately did not go further. I am pleased to see that with this version of the bill, I think we may have enough runway to pass it into law.

I am very proud to be standing here, not only as a proud member representing the great riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, but also as the NDP's agriculture critic. I have been privileged to hold that position for four and a half years now, and for me, agriculture is not work. It is a passion of mine, and I have been incredibly blessed in this role over four and a half years to have spoken with farm organizations from coast to coast to coast. To represent the farmers in my riding, take their feedback and be a part of the national policy discussion on food, food security, agriculture and how well our farmers are doing has been a real privilege.

I am also the owner of a small-scale farming property. It is nowhere near a commercial operation, but even the work on that property has given me a small insight into how hard our farmers actually work. I raise livestock. I have a small flock of chickens and raise ducks. I also have pigs and three elderly sheep. This teaches me a certain level of responsibility. It makes me appreciate that care for animals and the land is something we should all aspire to.

I think this is something that, through the enactment of this bill, will become part of our national discourse. It is an appreciation for what farmers do for our communities, big and small, because sometimes in our large urban centres, there can be a bit of a disconnect from where our food actually comes from. If this bill helps further the conversation, strengthening those links between our urban centres and our rural centres, I think it is doing nothing but good for our national unity.

In Canada, we already have Agriculture Day, which we celebrate in February of every year, but I like the fact that Bill S-227 is going to establish the Saturday before the first Monday in August as food day in Canada. That is important because Agriculture Day is, of course, a very broad topic. There are multiple different kinds of agriculture, but this bill is making it more specific and is centring, really, on the concept of food.

I think every member of Parliament realizes that food is not just a commodity. It is important. The thing that makes all humans equal is that we all have to eat to survive. It is very much a social determinant of health too. We know that there are far too many people in Canada who suffer from food insecurity. Food security and food sovereignty have been key issues for me personally.

We are a country, of course, that is very blessed with the amount of arable land we have. We produce far more food than our population consumes, so we are net exporters of food. We are actually one of the top agricultural producers in the world, and that is something we should definitely carry around with pride.

What I love about the country is the huge variety of growing regions we have from coast to coast. It truly is a learning experience, no matter what province we are visiting. I think we should have a country where we have the ability to produce food locally for everyone who needs it, not only to give the bare minimum amount but to achieve the good, high-quality food we all need. We need that high level of nutrition. It is a very strong factor in the social determinants of health.

As New Democrats, this has been a central issue for us in many parliaments for many years. Back in 2011, we ran on a commitment to introduce a Canadian food strategy that would combine health and environmental goals and food quality objectives. We have had incredible MPs, like Alex Atamanenko and Malcolm Allen, who in the past really set the stage for the debates we are able to have today. We have to recognize those members of Parliament who did that heavy lifting in previous parliaments to establish the building blocks we truly have today to get to where we are.

We created a strategy called “Everybody Eats: Our Vision for a pan-Canadian Food Strategy”, which really focused on how food travels from the farm to the factory to the fork. It was very comprehensive and I think played no small part in forcing the Liberals to come up with their own strategy in the 42nd Parliament, when they last had a majority government.

I stay in close contact with the farmers in my region. I depend very much on their feedback, and I try to be as true as I can, as their representative in this place, to ensure their voices are being heard.

The other thing is looking at how food is produced in Canada. I think this bill is also going to force us to look at the concept of food miles. I can remember going to grocery stores when we could see oranges from New Zealand and apples from South Africa and the amazing distances those foods had to travel to make it to our plates. I know in British Columbia we have the ability to grow a lot of seasonal produce, and I think we need to establish those stronger links. I hope this bill will help achieve that.

I am also incredibly proud to come from a province that I think arguably has the most diversified agricultural sector in the country. British Columbia has a variety of different climates, given our mountainous province, and we are able to grow a lot of different things in many different regions. Depending on which valley and which part of the province we are in, we will always find a little niche market somewhere.

Bringing it home to Vancouver Island, to my riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, we have some fantastic farmers' markets where we can go and see where our food is coming from locally and the incredible diversity that is being grown right in our backyard. I appreciate the efforts that the locals are going to in order to highlight that incredible work that is going on our backyard.

The Cowichan region, believe it or not, is Canada's only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone. We have the highest mean average temperature in all of Canada, and this allows our farmers to get a head start on growing some amazing food. In fact, in the local Halkomelem language, Cowichan, which is the anglicized version of the word, means “the warm land”. We are blessed with incredibly warm, hot summers and get an incredible amount of rainfall in the winter. That allows us to produce an amazing agricultural bounty. It is on display everywhere we go. We can get organic fruits and vegetables; local honey, cheese, eggs and sustainably harvested seafood; meat from grass-fed and ethically raised animals; homemade jams, jellies, chutneys and sauces; artisan breads, pies, pastries and cookies; locally grown and produced wines and spirits; and even gourmet treats for our pets.

To cap it off, because I know I have only a minute left, I am incredibly proud to stand here to support this bill. It sounds like we are going to have a lot of agreement in the House. I hope that when it finds passage, reaches royal assent and becomes law, it will be yet one more tool we have in our tool basket of policy to remind Canadians of how important local food is, to celebrate the farmers who produce it for us, and to start a conversation on how we, as parliamentarians, can better support food security so that everybody in every region has the ability to access good, high-quality food with no barriers whatsoever.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6:20 p.m.
See context


Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S‑227, an act to establish food day in Canada.

The purpose of this bill is to establish the Saturday before the first Monday in August across the country as food day in Canada.

I will say right away that the Bloc Québécois will be voting in favour of this bill as it addresses and highlights important issues in the lives of all Canadians and Quebeckers, issues that are ignored all too often.

The wealth of the Canadian and Quebec nations makes us take for granted the agricultural and agri-food sector. The Bloc Québécois has made the agriculture and agri-food sector a priority. We speak constantly of food sovereignty, in particular by promoting the supply management system, which is a good example.

Food sovereignty is a relatively new concept. It was first introduced by the movement known as La Via Campesina, which introduced the idea and presented it for the first time at the World Food Summit of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome in 1964. Since then, it has been championed by various movements, which have adapted it to reflect the concerns and values of their own organizations and the socio-economic situation in their country.

Over time, the Bloc has raised several issues to promote food sovereignty in Quebec and Canada. Specifically, we should be securing our food chains by giving a boost to the temporary foreign worker program; fostering the next generation of farmers by passing Bill C-208 on the taxation of the intergenerational transfer of businesses; promoting local agriculture and processing, particularly by increasing slaughtering capacity; helping farmers and processors innovate, especially when it comes to building resilience to climate change; protecting critical resources and agriculture and processing facilities from foreign investments, including under the Investment Canada Act; and promoting human-scale farms by encouraging buying organic and buying local.

The pandemic has opened our eyes to the cracks in our production chains and, especially, to our over-dependence on foreign imports for many aspects of these critical industries.

In November 2021, Quebec's agriculture minister, André Lamontagne, launched the $12 challenge, which encourages Quebec consumers to replace $12 worth of foreign products with local food during their weekly trip to the grocery store. If every Quebec household replaced $12 worth of foreign products with $12 worth of Quebec products each week, Quebec's bio-food industry could grow by $1 billion a year, and there would be an estimated $2.3 billion in annual economic benefits for the province. I encourage every Quebec family to take up the challenge.

We are spoiled. Our cuisine offers a wide variety of possibilities. It is regional and seasonal, with a touch of our multicultural history thrown in for good measure. There are blueberries from Lac-Saint-Jean, tourtière, maple syrup, shrimp from Matane, not to mention fruits and vegetables from Abitibi-Jamésie. Those are all good local products.

Buying local is everyone's business: retail stores, restaurants, caterers, canteens and food trucks, establishments that serve alcohol, food services for the health care system, schools, correctional services, municipal services, factories and businesses, day cares, hotels and other tourist sites.

It is also important to have purchasing policies that integrate the origin of products in their food supply selection criteria. Broccoli from abroad travels a long way between the field and our plate. Imagine the thousands of kilometres apples from South Africa or raspberries from Mexico have to travel before arriving in Quebec. What about all the pollution generated by the transportation of these foods, from their production to our plate?

According to a study published in 2021 in the scientific journal Nature, one-third of all greenhouse gases come from food production, especially food transportation.

Choosing to consume local products when they are available is an easy way to reduce one's ecological footprint. Buying local helps support the nation's economy and regional vitality. Everyone wins. This summer, I visited farmers' markets in Val-d'Or, Malartic and Senneterre, where people can buy foods produced close to home.

According to Statistics Canada, when the second COVID‑19 wave hit in the fall of 2020, approximately one in 10 Canadians aged 12 or older said their household had experienced food insecurity in the previous 12 months. That is unacceptable in a country like Canada.

Fortunately, Quebec is one of the provinces where the number of families experiencing food insecurity has dropped significantly. It seems likely that Quebec's progressive social safety net—its child care centres, parental leave, education system and so on—has something to do with that.

With respect to the regions, I want to talk about the riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which I proudly represent, and, more specifically, Nunavik.

Despite several decades of government efforts, food insecurity remains a significant and complex problem in the north. This insecurity has to do with both the quantity and quality of food consumed and is caused by different factors such as the very high cost of living, the increasingly limited access to products from traditional subsistence activities such as fishing, hunting and gathering, a lack of knowledge of the harm and benefits of market foods, as well as the repercussions of climate change and environment pollution on the traditional food systems.

To deal with the major challenges of food insecurity in the villages in Nunavik, the development of a nordic agriculture is considered an innovative solution. Focusing also on the health and well-being of the Inuit communities, the installation of community greenhouses helps enhance the supply of local fresh produce and improves the quality of food in a sustainable way, while taking into consideration the cultural dimension of food insecurity.

The approach used in this interdisciplinary project allows a local and sustainable supply system to be built with the community and to include the contribution of a horticultural project for improving the quality of life and health of the people.

These community greenhouses also help to slightly lower the price of groceries, which cost far too much in Nunavik. For example, the people in Nunavik pay 48% more for their groceries than people in the southernmost regions of Quebec.

Some 84% of Inuit living in the Hudson Bay region of Nunavik are food insecure. Inuit people experience the highest prevalence of food insecurity of any indigenous people in Canada. It is vital to find effective ways to ensure their food security.

The bio-food industry is helping to shape Quebec's identity and contributes to its wealth. It helps feed Quebeckers with food of the highest quality. It enjoys a good reputation on international markets thanks to the uniqueness of its products. This sector is more than just an essential activity for Quebec's economic prosperity. It is intimately linked to how the land is occupied and how each region is developed.

Quebeckers are privileged to be able to count on a dynamic bio-food sector that responds to their expectations and does everything possible to meet their extremely diverse needs. This industry is well established within our territory and has a presence in markets beyond our borders. It also supplies fresh agricultural products and original, high-quality processed foods.

A food day, as proposed in Bill S-227, would showcase farmers, fishers, processors, distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and, ultimately, Quebeckers, who are growing more and more fond of Quebec products.

I know I said this before, but that is why the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this bill.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6:30 p.m.
See context


Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, food unites us. Food brings us together. It is particularly important during these times of division and strife around the world.

Everyone loves food, including things like poutine, tourtière and Lac‑Saint‑Jean blueberries.

Everyone loves food and we all love Canadian food, like tourtière, poutine, Malpeque oysters or maple syrup with pancakes and peameal bacon. We all love butter tarts, although I am treading on dangerous water because we can get into a debate about whether they should be with raisins or without and who exactly makes the best butter tarts. However, we all love Canadian food, whether it is Alberta barley-fed steak or Ontario corn-fed roast beef shared over a glass of Ontario or British Columbia wine.

I would like to add my support for this bill in the House. I would like to thank the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for sponsoring the bill in the House. It has been passed in the Senate, and I encourage all of my colleagues in the House to support this bill.

Food Day Canada started in 2003. Since then, it has been taking place on the Saturday of the August long weekend. This is the time of year when farmers markets are brimming with the many locally produced agricultural products that are freshly available, patios and restaurants are full of patrons and barbecues are in high season. Food Day Canada is a celebration in praise of Canadian farmers and fishers, chefs and researchers, and home cooks. On this day, everyone is encouraged to celebrate, to shop, to cook and to dine Canadian.

Food Day Canada's website contains numerous Canadian recipes that can be created using local Canadian ingredients, such as Saskatoon oat and seed bread, red lentil crusted albacore tuna with Beluga lentil and cherry tomato vinaigrette, and apple and cider cobbler. Our country has so much to offer when it comes to authentic Canadian cuisine and each Canadian recipe tells a story about who we are.

On Food Day Canada, events take place across the country at various restaurants and locations. Buildings are also lit up red and white in celebration, including at Charlottetown City Hall, the Montreal Tower, Toronto's CN Tower, the Alberta Legislature Building and the Vancouver Convention Centre. It is a true coming together of agriculture, aquaculture and the culinary communities of Canada. It is a day to shine a light on Canadian cuisine. Despite all this, though, Food Day Canada has not yet been designated a commemorative day in Canada and passing the bill in the House today will formally recognize this day and the importance of Canadian cuisine to our culture, our identity and our heritage.

Food Day Canada was founded by the late Anita Stewart. I got to know Anita not only as a constituent in Elora and before that, as the mother of sons I went to high school with at Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus, Ontario. I later got to know her as a passionate advocate for Canadian food. It is due to her vision, dedication and perseverance that Food Day Canada has become the national event that it is. Passing this bill honours the legacy of Anita Stewart and her contributions to Canadian cuisine.

Anita Stewart founded Food Day Canada nearly 20 years ago. A member of the Order of Canada, founder of Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph's food laureate, she was an incredible advocate for Canadian food and farmers. Sadly, Anita was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in October of 2020. She was a food writer, a food journalist and a self-described food activist. She was tireless in championing Canadian food, Canadian farmers and Canadian cuisine and was always looking for a new recipe and connecting that to the farmers who produced the ingredients.

She grew up in rural Wellington County and from those rural roots, she went everywhere across this country. Anita went over the side of icebreakers into work boats in the north Pacific to visit every manned light station on that coast and meet their keepers. She travelled by dogsled and snowmobile to Cree hunt camps in northern Quebec. She went to Hibernia, which she called the most easterly bastion of Canadian cuisine on this continent. She scuba dived for sea cucumbers and urchin in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and bucktail fly-fished for salmon in Discovery Passage.

She was an amazing storyteller about Canadian food, producing over a dozen Canadian cookbooks. One of her early works was co-written with Jo Marie Powers, titled The Farmers' Market Cookbook. It featured recipes collected from vendors at farmers' markets. Each recipe identified the market and the vendor where the recipe came from.

In her book, The Lighthouse Cookbook, Anita presented recipes from the keepers of British Columbia's lighthouses, including traditional clam chowder and mussels in wild mushrooms. Some other works by Anita include Country Inn Cookbook, The St. Lawrence Market Cookbook, and Northern Bounty: A Celebration of Canadian Cuisine.

It was through her cookbooks that my wife, Carrie, and I further got to know Anita. When we were first planning our wedding, 20 years ago this month, we came across a cookbook, titled Great Canadian Cuisine: The contemporary flavours of Canadian Pacific Hotels by Anita Stewart, on Carrie's grandmother's coffee table. One thing led to another. We met up with Anita, and her son, using that cookbook, prepared the most amazing wedding meal for all of the guests.

Through her written works, Anita did more than share recipes, she brought to life the story of Canadian food and the people behind it. She was the first, as many have mentioned, University of Guelph food laureate, believed to be the first at any university in Canada. As food laureate, she continued to champion Canadian cuisine, providing advocacy and leadership across academic and administrative departments.

She had a profound impact on the University of Guelph and on Wellington County. The Anita Stewart Memorial Food Laboratory at the university continues to “actively promote the growth and study of our Canadian food systems and cultures.” In deep recognition of her contributions to Canadian cuisine and culture, she was invested into the Order of Canada in 2012, one of our country's highest honours.

Just as Anita was passionate about Canadian cuisine, so too are her sons. She passed along that passion to her sons, Jeff, Mark, Brad and Paul. All four have had a great impact on Canadian cuisine and co-founded Food Day Canada with her. They also continue serve on Food Day Canada's board of directors. Jeff, who is Red Seal certified as a chef and sommelier, previously stated the following about his mom:

My mother was a real force in Canada, but also a real force in our family.... The amazing thing is the legacy she left behind and all the amazing connections of people who are supporting what she started.

Following her all too early passing, Niagara Falls was lit up in red and white to honour her and her life's work. There is no doubt that Canada is better for her contributions to Canadian cuisine.

This bill in front of us honours the legacy Anita Stewart left behind. It would also ensure that Canadian cuisine from coast to coast is honoured and celebrated each and every year. I encourage all of my colleagues here in the House to support this bill.

Food Day in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2022 / 6:40 p.m.
See context


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

We only have about two minutes left for debate.

I will go to the hon. member for Guelph to begin his comments.