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.