Mr. Speaker, along with others in the NDP shadow cabinet, I recently had the opportunity to brief the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
Although it is regrettable that Canada is the first developed country to be investigated for failing to protect the right to food, our meeting was a welcome opportunity to raise the profile of what is wrong with the Canadian food system.
Despite our country's relative wealth, more than two million Canadians regularly do not have enough to eat. People on government income support and those earning minimum wage are often forced to choose between food and rent.
At the same time, farmers and fishers are going out of business, a quarter of Canadians are considered obese, and the industrial food production system is one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
Food bank use has soared by 28% in the past three years. In a typical month more than 850,000 Canadians are using a food bank.
We desperately need a national food policy, and I am hopeful that the UN rapporteur's report will be the catalyst for government action.
In the meantime, I urge all Canadians who are able to donate to a food bank now. Donations drop off in the summer, but the right to food must be protected every day of the year.