Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to have more time to talk about my Bill C-231. It is an important bill. I also want to thank all the members who spoke today and during the first hour of debate. This bill means a lot to me because fighting food waste is a very important issue.
I thank all those who supported my bill. We received support from a number of organizations, such as Moisson Montréal, Moisson Mauricie, and Moisson Lanaudière. These organizations across Quebec support the initiative and the objective of Bill C-231.
There is also the Quebec chapter of the Friends of the Earth, Rescue Food in Calgary, and l'Escouade anti-gaspillage alimentaire de l'Outaouais. I thank them for the work they do to fight food waste. I also want to mention the Recycling Council of Ontario, and Second Harvest, in Toronto, the largest food distributor in the country. Eight million pounds of food were distributed in the past 12 months.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization commended us on our initiative, Bill C-231, and noted the importance of setting targets for reducing food waste in Canada.
I also recently received the support of Arash Derambarsh, from France. He said:
I am proud to join with my friend...in the fight against food waste in Canada. In France and elsewhere in the world, food waste is a problem that has economic, social, and environmental consequences.... I believe it is urgent that the Canadian government legislate to ensure that unsold food is redistributed rather than thrown out.
I would also like to thank researchers, such as Iris Simard Tremblay, author of the essay Comment réduire le gaspillage alimentaire dans l'industrie agroalimentaire au Québec?; Éric Ménard, a lecturer, blogger, and food waste expert; and Paul Van der Werf, who did extraordinary work. I want to thank Paul for his help and encouragement. We will not give up.
Food waste in Canada is everyone's business A lot of people are concerned about food waste. It is in the news quite often. When we look at what is happening in other countries, we see they have taken some measures that are very important. Canada could be a real leader when it comes to reducing food waste. Food waste has very important social and environmental impacts, and that was mentioned in some of the speeches today.
Earlier today, we had a great debate on the Paris agreement. Is the government serious about tackling climate change?
The fight against food waste is an important part of that. In Canada, we waste 31 million tonnes of food per year, which represents a loss of $31 billion dollars a year. That is shameful. In a country as rich as Canada, approximately 900,000 people rely on food banks. The food distribution system is broken. There are many improvements that need to be made and this bill is a step in the right direction.
There are quite a few questions that were raised about the bill. My colleague from Toronto—Danforth talked a lot about poverty. I think that, yes, the government has a role to play in reducing poverty. Maybe a $15-per-hour minimum wage would be very good. I would also like to say that Second Harvest supports the bill.
My colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands, who also sits on the agriculture committee, talked about costs. I think the inaction of the government costs more. Under the Conservatives, since 2008, there was a 26% augmentation of food bank use in Canada. Also, in 2014 there were $27 million in losses from food waste and now we are up to $31 million. Inaction costs more than the action asked for in the bill.
Other people have talked about the importance of holding consultations. In the bill, I ask the Canadian government to do just that; we know how much the Liberal government enjoys holding consultations. If the bill is passed at this stage, it will go to committee, where improvements can be made.
In my opinion, as parliamentarians, we also have the duty to reduce inequality and fight against climate change. This bill is a good step in that direction. If it is not passed, I will continue to fight to reduce food waste and food insecurity in Canada.