Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to stand in the House this evening to speak to Bill C-231.
I want to thank my friend from the NDP for bringing this bill forward to the House. It is an important bill. It provides an opportunity for us to have a discussion about food security in Canada today.
The title of the bill is probably as complex as the bill could be: an act to establish national food waste awareness day and to provide for the development of a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada. That describes exactly what is delineated within the bill.
The first part of the bill does something which I think we could all get our heads around and absolutely support, and that is to create a national day to bring awareness to food. It would be called the national food awareness day. By and large, we in this House could all agree that would be an important thing for us to do.
I grew up on a farm. I am a proud farm kid. I am really proud of the work and the vocation my parents were involved in, creating healthy food for people not only in Canada but around the world. The vast majority of what is produced in many parts of the Prairies actually gets exported around the world. We as Canadians can be very proud of the fact that we are supplying food for hungry people around the world.
When I was a young farm kid, I spent a fair bit of time helping my parents on the farm. One thing that I became aware of very early in my life is that any bit of waste is unacceptable. The reason was it is not good to waste food, but as a farmer knows and any farm kid knows, every bit of the produce or every bit of the grain that one's family produces is the income that the family lives off. By and large, farmers are probably some of the most careful people when it comes to ensuring that food waste does not in fact happen, especially at the farm.
I should note that it would be important for us to have a national food awareness day for another reason. As our communities and our country become more urban-centric, as people move off the farms, as fewer people are required on the farms to produce the food, people get further and further away from where food is produced.
As a farm kid living in a community of farmers, I knew very clearly from a very young age that not only do farmers not waste food, but farmers also make sure that they grow the healthiest food. They care for the animals they raise. They are probably some of the greatest stewards of our environment, of our animal health and welfare, and of the land generally. They know that this is going to have an impact on their bottom line.
There is also another point. Farmers are very proud of what they do. They are very proud to be able to produce the best quality and the safest food in the world. Canadian farmers produce the best quality and the safest food anywhere in the world. We as Canadians can be proud of this.
If we were to consider having a national food awareness day, I think one of the things we would want to do is celebrate the success of Canadian agriculture and the people who make sure that we have some of the safest and best quality food in the world.
We would also want to celebrate some of the advancements that have happened over time, the technologies and the modern farming practices that make sure that in Canada today we produce more food than we ever have. We also do it at less cost, using less land, with less water, and less of an impact on the environment than we ever have. That is all because of the modern practices that we use. These include the introduction of new tilling practices when farmers plant their crops on the Prairies. It includes the introduction of GMO crops, and some of the plant breeding that has happened to increase the productivity of our crops, and also to reduce the amount of water that is necessary for these crops to grow and thrive.
We have also seen a number of other advancements that have really seen the ability to grow more commodity on less land mass, which means that we continue to feed not only Canadians but people around the world.
There is a lot to celebrate, especially when it comes to primary agriculture in Canada. A national food awareness day is where we would want to start. It is about really understanding where food comes from. It is about reminding our urban friends that farm families across Canada do an admirable job of growing crops and fostering a brand that we can be proud of the world over, which is that we produce the safest and the best-quality food in the world.
I did talk to my friend before I started speaking. It will not surprise my friend that the second part of the bill is the part that I am a bit more concerned about, and that is the part that talks about having a national strategy. That is when we introduce government into the equation and encourage government to solve a problem. A number of things that were included in the strategy were articulated by my friend in the bill, one of which would include a national awareness campaign.
A national awareness campaign is probably quite an important thing to do, in terms of reminding people that we all have a responsibility to reduce food waste. Any food waste means that food is not being used to nourish people, and there are many people who could use food that might otherwise go to waste.
We have to consider who we would want involved in this. The government is not necessarily the best group to lead any conversation on this issue. I reflect upon some of the greatest successes when it comes to reducing food waste in Canada. The charitable sector has been working on this for years.
In my own life, my parents and my grandparents here in Canada concerned themselves with food waste. There was a time when a lot of Canadians had gardens. The initial way that everyone made sure there was no food waste was to share it with neighbours, if they had more than they could eat in their gardens. If they had too much of something, they would trade it with their neighbours for something else.
Things evolve over time, and people have moved off farms and do not have gardens anymore. Things change. Other groups step in, such as churches, the Salvation Army, food banks, to ensure that nobody goes hungry within their communities. These organizations have been in existence since Canada has been here. Canadians care about one another. We care about our neighbours. We continue to install different systems because we truly care about our neighbours and we want to make sure that nobody goes hungry. We have instituted a number of these things.
Over the last number of years, as some of these programs have become antiquated or are not addressing the need that might be out there, other groups have stepped up and introduced new disruptive technologies that have changed the way that food waste is reduced.
We have things like Food Cowboy, which is a technology company that has created an app. It basically provides companies with the ability to donate surplus food to nearby charities, and organic waste composters and farmers and biogas generators, to ensure that the food does not fall into landfills but goes to another purpose. I was not familiar with this company, but I was inspired when I did some research on it. Food Cowboys now serves over 400 charities and has about 200 donors. It has significantly reduced the amount of food waste from restaurants and other food establishments, as well as retail stores and others.
There are also companies like Froodly in Finland that basically does the same. It attracts best before dates and makes sure that food that might otherwise fall into landfills is highlighted so that people could get discounts on those foods.
There are a number of things that have happened.
The folks who do a lot of the processing in Canada are already doing a great job in terms of ensuring that food is not wasted, because for them it is also about the bottom line. They have a strategy to ensure that they donate to food banks as much as they can. As a matter of fact, those surveyed said that 92% of their organizations donate to food banks on a regular basis.
The private sector is doing a good job and the public sector is there to assist those who are doing it. I think there is an opportunity for us to cheer on those who are doing a good job. The charitable sector, the private sector are doing an incredible job. We do not want to stand in the way of that. We want to incentivize them to do those things. The last thing we want to do is add additional red tape for what is increasingly the Canadian way to ensure that nobody goes hungry here in Canada.