House of Commons Hansard #352 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cases.


National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to speak to Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day. I applaud the initiative put forward by my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia, and I would like to take this opportunity to say how important it is for us to honour the women and men who, day after day, put their heart and soul into providing us with healthful food produced close to home.

I am happy to see that Canadians of all generations are interested in knowing where the food they eat comes from. “Field to fork” is a motto we should all make our own. We should make the benefits of local food available to our families. Truly understanding what fuels our bodies begins with knowing what we are eating, where it comes from, and who produces it. Happy are those who cultivate trust-based relationships with farmers, those caring artisans who share their passion and their know-how with us.

By fostering this relationship, we are guaranteeing an abundant harvest and the satisfaction of cooking with quality ingredients. Our local and public markets are a means of taking concrete action to support our local economy and our environment. Maintaining a short route in the food chain will eliminate enormous quantities of greenhouse gases and inspire a new generation of farmers in our local economy.

I am proud to be able to say that, in Lévis—Lotbinière, we promote our local and regional products. I am living proof. By the way, I would like to thank all of the organizations that feature local products from Lévis—Lotbinière on the menu in their activities. Just look at the fruit and vegetable stands on our farms and in the riding. They provide a variety of produce throughout the summer and fall. A real treat! I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the organizations that make it possible.

We need to be aware that, every time we buy local products, we are honouring our craftspeople and investing in our present and future food safety. Here in the House, we can also do more and better by adopting measures to stimulate the local produce initiative, by investing in the innovation of new products and new cultivars of fruits and vegetables that are less vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather and other natural stresses.

We must also remember those who process local foods. I would like to call your attention to the fact that, in my riding, we have been trying to encourage people to eat local for almost 20 years now. I would like to mention an organization that has made an outstanding effort in this respect: Goûtez Lotbinière. The organization has evolved over the years, but it was created in January 2000. The initial objective was to pool knowledge and experience in order to meet the needs of producers and processors in the Lotbinière RCM who wanted to join forces to promote and market local products.

Since then, several other organizations have become involved, including the Lotbinière local development centre, the Lotbinière regional county municipality, the Lotbinière Caisses Desjardins, the Union des producteurs agricoles, the CFDC and Promutuel de Lotbinière.

Year after year, Goûtez Lotbinière has stood out from the rest by coordinating and participating in activities in Lotbinière, including the Fondation Philippe Boucher cocktail reception since 2009, the Balades d’automne and the Saint-Apollinaire festival, among many others.

The Table Goûtez Lotbinière was also in the Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches area. It took part in the New France festival, the old port of Quebec Christmas market, special events on the Quebec-Lévis ferry, and so on.

A growing number of businesses are calling on the organization's services. That is why designating a national local food day just before Thanksgiving is the best time for raising awareness about the importance of agrifood in our lifestyle. This affects our health and our local economy.

These businesses deserve our attention. Let us encourage them by buying their products that are so wonderful. That way, we might discover new burgeoning success stories close to home and be able to proudly say one day that we were there from day one or that we were one of the first to buy these local treasures.

I encourage all farmers and processors to take part in the competition to promote their products.

We are seeing a positive and enthusiastic response from Canadians to all these efforts. I invite all Canadians to draw up a list of their local producers and processors so that they can buy and taste local products and maintain this relationship of trust. They can help keep our regions economically prosperous by buying local.

Before I finish, I also want to talk about a new national and even international trend: rural green tourism. For several years, tourists have been participating in activities and buying products that are directly or indirectly connected to agri-tourism or local tourism.

You can find all kinds of local and foreign visitors using regional agri-tourism maps, visiting agri-tourism museums, or simply stopping at u-pick farms along the way. These rural or agri-tourists are not necessarily trying to promote local foods; they simply enjoy basking in the country life.

On top of those visitors are the ones who choose their tourist destinations based on accommodations, restaurants with good local menus, as well as rural-themed cultural activities, sports or educational experiences that are typical of the local way of life.

In short, this will help our overall health, including our physical health and our environment. This is huge. We owe it to all Canadians to make a choice for our regions' futures, and I urge all of my colleagues to support Bill C-231.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to support my dear colleague's bill to create a national local food day.

The creation of a national local food day is especially important to me because I represent the agrifood technopole of Quebec, where agriculture is truly the economic driver of our region. In the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, we know how important local agriculture is to both the farmers and the consumers.

A big public demonstration is planned for November 18 in Montreal to support agriculture in my region. The event is being called “Garde-manger en danger” or “our pantry in peril”. I invite all my colleagues to join us and show their support for our farmers who work hard to feed us and ensure that we have good fresh products every day. Farmers are going through a tough time. Now more than ever it is important for us to rally behind them.

Bill C-281 would bring together farmers and consumers around the issue of local consumption. We should show our recognition and support for our local farmers who work hard for all of us. Having this day on the Friday before Thanksgiving would allow us to celebrate together this day of sharing between local farmers and citizens.

Local food is a great way to support farmers by cutting out the middleman and making direct producer-to-consumer transactions possible. Consumers get fresher, traceable seasonal produce. Our constituents care more about the quality of the food on their plate and supporting local farms, and they are tired of excess packaging. Buying local is very good for the planet.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, eating locally is one of the top 10 things we can do to reduce our global footprint. Nowadays, one farmer can produce enough to feed over 50 families on less land and with less water and fewer resources than before. Local food is the obvious choice.

A Toronto FoodShare study found that a meal made with ingredients from a local farmers' market travels an average of 101 kilometres, whereas an imported meal travels an average of 5,364 kilometres, producing 100 times more greenhouse gas emissions than the meal from the local market. Eating locally also helps reduce the amount of plastic packaging associated with getting products to market. Let us remember that food packaging accounts for 70% of the world's plastic waste.

Producers across Canada and Quebec are subject to standards that protect the taste and quality of all Canadian products. Our quality standards represent a true guarantee for consumers. It is all the more important to fully support our producers now that Canada's borders have been opened to even more imports of American agricultural products. Quebec products meet standards and requirements that are not applied to imported products. Local producers end up at a disadvantage, because imported products can sometimes be cheaper, since they use ingredients that are banned in Quebec. By buying local, consumers can avoid these imported products and support local producers.

Quebec products also offer very clear labelling and traceability. For example, Quebeckers can find out which farm produced the eggs they are buying by going to and typing in the code printed on the egg's shell.

By instituting a local food day, we can send a strong message to our constituents. This is an excellent way to use legislation to encourage Canadians to support local agriculture. We can also protect family farms and help them move out of the shadow of larger operations. We must all put this day of celebration in our calendars.

A national local food day would raise awareness about how hard it is for too many Canadians to access healthy, affordable food close to home.

I am proud to represent the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot in this House and to speak for our farmers, who work so hard every day. Today I want to thank each and every one of them for their dedication and their huge contribution to the vitality and economic development of our riding.

Local agriculture is part of our identity, and we are so proud of it. We need to pay tribute to all the farmers across the country who work hard to ensure our food sovereignty and to feed all Canadians.

We need to emphasize the importance of buying local now more than ever, considering the tough times our farmers are going through. I would like to commend the Maskoutains RCM, UPA Montérégie and the Agricultrices de la Montérégie-Est, which represent many farmers in my riding. I want to thank them all for the excellent work they do and for tirelessly defending our farmers' interests. They contribute to the vitality and economic development of Montérégie, the pantry of Quebec.

Eating locally helps us guarantee our food sovereignty, maintain local expertise, revitalize our agricultural land and create jobs in all our regions. We are all affected, directly or indirectly.

The people of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale keep telling me how important local agriculture is to them and how we need to protect it and acknowledge the farmers who breathe life into my riding and contribute to jobs and youth training.

Bill C-281 would complement Canada's Agriculture Day, which is celebrated in February, by focusing on local agriculture and all the sectors it encompasses, from producers to restaurants to artisans, as well as the riding's economic health and public health.

Food is a necessity. High-quality products are vital for public health. A population that maximizes the benefits of its food is a population in better health.

Bill C-281 is a good way to pay tribute to our local producers and to show our appreciation to all those people working hard in the background to feed us all. They contribute to Canada's success through their commitment and hard work.

Since 2011, the NDP has been promoting a Canadian food strategy that would combine objectives related to health, the environment, food quality and local and organic choices by consumers across the country.

Access to healthy food choices at affordable prices is a priority for the NDP. Meeting these objectives involves the support of our local farmers' markets. I have the honour to represent a riding where the land is fertile and agriculture is very diversified. Every day, residents of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale are able to meet the farmers that produce their food at the various kiosks at the Saint-Hyacinthe farmers' market on Cascades Street.

I would also like to highlight all of the events organized to support and promote our local food products, such as the Foire agroalimentaire de la région d'Acton and the Matinées gourmandes, which travel to several communities in my riding.

I would also like to thank the restaurants that put local products on their menus, and the grocers who make room on their shelves for local products.

Finally, I would like to thank the head of tourist development at the Saint-Hyacinthe Technopole, who promotes and offers our local products at the tourist information booth in the congress centre. What a great way to showcase the richness and diversity of the greater Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton regions.

There are multiple locations where residents of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale can find many high-quality local products such as cheese, milk, eggs, and all sorts of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

These locations do our riding proud. Farmers are happy to have such direct connections with consumers, and word of mouth helps them to attract and keep customers.

In closing, I would like to offer my full support to my dear colleague's bill, which seeks to create a national local food day. It is good to celebrate local food both in British Columbia and Quebec.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

November 8th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.


Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Kootenay—Columbia for introducing this bill to celebrate national local food day.

I think it is a great day in the House any time we have the chance to talk about agriculture and food. Our farmers and food processors work hard every single day to put food on our tables, and they contribute to Canada's sovereignty by ensuring a safe and healthful food supply.

I consider it a privilege to rise today to acknowledge their contribution to our great country. That is why I welcome Bill C-281, which our government is happy to support because the importance of food and farming to the health of our citizens cannot be overstated. Canada has a global reputation as a producer of healthful food.

From gate to plate, the agriculture and agrifood sector generates over $114 billion of our gross domestic product. Canada's agricultural sector is booming, and people are taking notice. The Advisory Council on Economic Growth, chaired by Dominic Barton, has recognized its huge potential. The advisory council pointed to agriculture as one of the key growth sectors of our economy, one that can help unlock a prosperous future for our economy, our middle class and our nation.

Global demand for food is growing at a record pace. It is estimated that farmers will have to produce as much food over the next 45 years as they did over the past 10,000 years. Not only is demand for food growing, it is growing for the kind of top-quality foods that Canada's industry can deliver. That is why our government has set an ambitious target to grow our agrifood exports to at least $75 million by 2025. We are well on our way to hitting that target.

While Canada can play an important role in helping feed the world, there are also new opportunities for producers and processors closer to home. The fuel that is going to power this economic engine is our local farmers and processors. That is why I am pleased to voice our government's support for this bill.

A national local food day would be an opportunity to recognize the contribution of agriculture and food to local economies. It would be an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about how the food they eat makes it to their dinner tables. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to recognize our hardworking farmers and food processors. There is no doubt that more and more Canadians are putting local food on their tables. According to last year's chef survey by Restaurants Canada, eating local is one of the top five trends on Canadian menus.

Many provinces have already introduced initiatives to buy local. These initiatives help showcase local ingredients and capitalize on the explosive growth of culinary tourism. They can help bring together all the players, from farmers to chefs, in order to promote local food and stimulate the economy. They also help boost sales of local products to tourists and local residents, who are better able to identify locally grown foods. These buy local initiatives also contribute to increasing export sales should a region become known as the supplier of choice for certain foods.

When consumers choose to eat local foods, they create specialized markets and local supply chains for small and medium sized farms and businesses. The local food systems can provide distinct food choices that incorporate local flavours. In the riding of Saint-Jean, we can find local products throughout the region. People take joy in buying fresh farm products at the Place du marché in downtown Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

In Sainte-Brigitte, Jardins d'Odina produces excellent ciders. In Saint-Grégoire, known for its orchards, Denis Charbonneau and Léo Boutin produce ice ciders. There are dairy producers in Saint-Alexandre and Saint-Paul-de-l'Île-aux-Noix. Au gré des champs cheese factory has won prizes several times. Au Saucisson vaudois in Sainte-Brigitte, Dalisa in Saint-Jean and Stefan Frick in Lacolle make deli meats that are sought after by consumers.

Les Vignobles des Pins in Sabrevois, Mas des Patriotes in L'Acadie and Vignoble 1292 in Saint-Blaise are the pride of the region for the quality of their wines. In Saint-Valentin, the town of love, Les Fraises Louis Hébert has a u-pick strawberry operation and sells many strawberry-based products.

The government’s approach to local food is focused on national efforts to increase consumer awareness and knowledge of the Canadian agricultural sector as well as the needs of farmers’ markets across the country. Provincial governments have a role to play in determining what local food means to them, and the Government of Canada continues to work with interested provinces on this issue.

Indeed, many provinces and territories are actively implementing local food strategies. To make them effective, provincial support is needed, combined with a bottom-up structure that understands the local food scene. For a number of years, provinces and territories have been working with the federal government to fund diverse local food programs. Under the previous framework for agriculture, provinces and territories had the flexibility to target investments to meet local needs. That way, they could provide tools to help farmers remain innovative and competitive, and capture new and existing markets, which include, of course, markets for local food.

For instance, in Quebec, $5 million was targeted to developing local markets. The Proximité program encouraged farmers to take advantage of the business opportunities that local markets provide. The Yukon used funding to get a wider variety of farm products into farmers’ markets and restaurants and onto store shelves. New Brunswick’s market development, product enhancement and diversification program supported farmers’ efforts to capture new markets, be they local, national or global.

We are focusing on a new five-year Canadian agricultural partnership. The partnership is a $3-billion federal-provincial-territorial investment, a bold new plan to help keep Canadian agriculture booming. It includes $1 billion in federal funding for six programs and activities that will build an even stronger, more innovative and more sustainable sector, and $2 billion in cost-shared funding between the provinces and territories and the federal government. These funds have built-in flexibility to allow the provinces and territories to target their own programs to local needs. Working in partnership can provide a boost to the local food movement.

Just as farmers have the full support of Canadians, they also have the full support of this government. We are there to encourage and help people from all walks of life to choose farming as their profession. We are there to support them with programs and services under the Canadian agricultural partnership to help them grow their businesses. The government is there to fight for them on the global stage as they help feed a growing world population.

The Government is happy to support Bill C-281 because, when Canadians shop locally, they are keeping dollars in the community, creating jobs and contributing to sustainable development.

When we transport these agricultural products over shorter distances, we reduce the environmental impact. That is the most pleasant way I can think of to boost the economy.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia has up to five minutes for his right of reply.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, clearly, local food inspires. I would like to start by thanking my constituents from Kootenay—Columbia for inspiring me to move Bill C-281, and for building our local food economy. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the House for all of their inspiring speeches. We can see how excited they are about local food in their particular ridings, as they should be.

Why should we support local food? First of all, as we know, it is healthy. We know where it comes from and who is producing it. It is important for the economy. It puts millions of dollars into the local economies and brings tourism to communities. I saw that in the farmers' markets I visited this summer. Of course, it is also important for farm-stay tourism and restaurants. When people travel the country, they look for local food in local restaurants. It is environmentally friendly. It reduces carbon dioxide and the use of plastics. It provides community food security and keeps farmers farming, which we absolutely need to do across Canada. It brings together families and communities. Healthy local agriculture also means a healthy local environment. We need healthy soils and pollinators to make farming and local food work. It leads to protection of water and watersheds, and it protects agricultural land from development.

How can we encourage local food? We can buy locally, support local growers and farmers, and ensure there are healthy local fish and wildlife populations and opportunities to harvest them in rural areas. We can ask our local mayors and councils to make vacant city lots available for agriculture right next door, and look for ways to remove any barriers from farm to fork and encourage all levels of government to focus on local food and local food security. Lastly, we can encourage our senators, locally for people around Canada, to support timely passage of this bill. For people in the House who know people in the Senate, they can talk to their colleagues there to support timely passage of Bill C-281 in the Senate so we can celebrate local food all across Canada on Friday, October 11, 2019, as part of national local food day.

I thank all my colleagues in the House.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

PovertyAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House to call on this government to take action to give the 1.2 million children living in poverty an equal opportunity to succeed.

This week the Minister of Families introduced his bill to reduce poverty in Canada and to lift, as he said, 650,000 people out of poverty in this country. The document is only six pages long. The Liberals retained only three points from my bill. It is a government bill, but it does not come with any funding or programs.

There is nothing in the bill for affordable child care across the country. There is nothing to ensure that our seniors and our families have access to the prescription drugs they need. There is nothing to make the guaranteed income supplement automatic for all seniors. There is nothing to provide a dental plan to those who cannot afford one or cannot afford to go to the dentist. There is nothing for social and affordable housing now. There is nothing for the creation of a guaranteed minimum income program. There is nothing for our low-income workers, who sometimes work 50 hours a week and still have to use the food bank. I could go on.

With 1.2 million children under the age of 18, or 20% of our country's children, living in a low-income household, we cannot really say that Canada has made things better for vulnerable children in the past 10 years. Child poverty primarily affects the children of recent immigrants and single-parent families, in addition to first nations.

Nathalie Appleyard, the spokesperson for Campaign 2000, a Canadian coalition of more than 120 anti-poverty organizations, criticized the bill's lack of ambition. She pointed out that even if poverty is reduced by 50% in 2030, 600,000 children will still grow up in poverty. That is a huge number for a country as rich as ours, and this is where it is clear that the government will not eliminate poverty by mailing out cheques, like it does with the Canada child benefit.

At a press conference yesterday, I said that the bill would not lift a child out of poverty. Children who are poor today will still be poor tomorrow. Campaign 2000 added, “this will not provide much comfort to the children who don't have enough to eat right now or who don't know where they will live next month.” Poverty almost always goes hand in hand with food insecurity. Many children from poor families do not have access to the nutritional resources they need.

How can the government think this is acceptable? How can it draft a bill that has no measures and no funding?

We also have to focus on one neglected group in particular: indigenous peoples. They are the most vulnerable of our vulnerable population. In Canada, 38% of indigenous children live in poverty.

Campaign 2000, which represents 120 organizations, proposes solutions for eradicating poverty. I invite my hon. colleague across the way to listen to them. They are calling on the government to increase the Canada child benefit, improve the employment insurance program, and establish a universal child care program.

On behalf of the 120 organizations that Campaign 2000 represents, but especially on behalf of the millions of people living in poverty, I am calling on the government to tell us when it will increase the Canada child benefit, improve the employment insurance program, and establish a universal child care program.

PovertyAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Steven MacKinnon Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. We often talk about other issues that fall under my department, but I am very pleased to be here this evening to address the important issue of poverty.

Since coming to power, our government has been working very hard to reduce poverty in Canada. We have taken tangible initiatives and measures to help the middle class, but of course we are focusing on those who want to join the middle class.

Shortly after coming to power, we also raised taxes for the wealthiest 1% and we used that money to lower taxes for the middle class. To that we added major investments for children, seniors, low-income workers and other vulnerable Canadians. These investments have considerably reduced poverty and vastly improved people's lives.

To date, our government has invested $22 billion toward eradicating poverty for all Canadians. We are making solid progress with programs like the Canada child benefit, more generous benefits for seniors, early learning and child care, and housing, investments, I will note, that were, unfortunately, all opposed by our friends in the New Democratic Party. By 2019, these investments will have helped lift more than 650,000 Canadians out of poverty.

This week, we kept one of our promises by introducing Bill C-87, an act respecting the reduction of poverty. It is an integral part of Canada's first poverty reduction strategy as announced by my colleague, the minister, this past summer. This bill will implement three key elements that demonstrate our government's commitment to being a global leader and a progressive partner in the fight against poverty.

We are going to establish concrete poverty reduction targets that will help Canada achieve its lowest levels of poverty in history within a decade. We are going to establish Canada's first-ever official poverty line so that the fight against poverty can be guided by statistics and data instead of partisan ideology, and we are going to appoint a national advisory council on poverty through our open, transparent and merit-based appointments process to ensure that people with lived experience have a voice in the decision-making process. The council will also provide annual reports telling the government and Canadians how we are progressing. These are critical tools, because our government understands that poverty is a complex issue requiring a multi-faceted approach.

We recognize that other levels of government have an essential role to play. Working with them is crucial. I am sure the progressive measures that bring all the activities and all the players in my party together will rally those concerned about poverty in Canada and produce tangible results.

PovertyAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities conducted a lengthy study of poverty and published its report. We have the government's response to this report, but the bill on poverty, introduced this week, does not even go as far as the government's response.

Yes, it mentions targets, a metric and an advisory council, but there is no definition. Do members know that in Canada we do not have an official definition of poverty? We do not know what we are talking about.

There is also nothing about research so we can tackle the causes of poverty. Researchers informed us of that and we need to do research. Yes, there is talk of partnerships, but the importance of working together is not in the bill on poverty. All groups from across Canada told the committee that cities, provinces, territories, indigenous peoples and the federal government must work together.

To conclude, I will say that words are no longer enough. People living in poverty need concrete action.

PovertyAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.

Steven MacKinnon

Mr. Speaker, we know that we need to bring together all of the players and stakeholders in Canadian society to wage this never-ending battle against poverty.

However, my opinion differs from that of my colleague. We have taken real and meaningful action and invested real money, which will do more to reduce poverty than has ever been done before in Canadian history.

The Canada child benefit helps our families every day. The enhanced guaranteed income supplement helps seniors every day, and the working income tax benefit helps people break down the welfare wall and get back to work.

We have made real efforts to reduce poverty, and we will continue to do so.

PovertyAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

A motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted pursuant to an order made on Friday, September 21, 2018. This House stands adjourned until Monday, November 19, 2018, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:37 p.m.)