Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to table a petition on behalf of constituents in my riding from Courtenay, Cumberland and Royston.
The petition calls on the government to support a national matching program for provincial farmers' market nutrition coupon programs across Canada that would match provinces, like British Columbia, that are already contributing to their farmers' market nutrition coupon program, and encourage provinces that do not have such a program to implement one by offering matching funding.
The B.C. Association of Farmers' Markets, with 135 member markets, 4,000-plus vendors and its long-term partnership with the province, provides an excellent model for farmers' market nutrition programs, providing almost 16,000 vulnerable families, seniors and pregnant women with access to weekly coupons, and providing $1.9 million to local farmers. The current program has an average coupon redemption rate of over 91%.