Ruth Ellen Brosseau
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NDP MP for Berthier—Maskinongé (Québec)
Won her last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Privilege May 18th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say I was the member in question. I was standing in the centre, talking to some colleagues. I was elbowed in the chest by the Prime Minister, and then I had to leave. It was very overwhelming, so I left the chamber to go and sit in the lobby. I missed the vote because of this.
I just wanted to clarify and make sure it is clear to all members in the House that it did happen.
Fight Against Food Waste Act May 12th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, the food strategy that I had the pleasure of working on with Malcolm Allen and Alex Atamanenko was a great experience. We were able to produce a document about food from the farm to the plate. It had a lot of great aspects, and we are very happy to see that the new government is going to elaborate on a food strategy.
It is very important that we have a long-term vision for agriculture here in Canada and not just piecemeal projects or programs that start and end every few years. We need predictability.
Here in Canada, as the member knows, we have a lot of people who are food insecure. Sadly, a lot of people, and a lot of children, use food banks. Food banks were created to solve a problem and feed people for a short period of time, we all hoped. However, still today, we have food banks here in Canada, and about 900,000 people use them, and a lot of them are children.
The adoption of this bill, and hopefully getting it to committee, would start a great discussion about how we could better handle our food at home and work with initiatives that are done locally in our communities, cities, and provinces. We have to work hard to deal with this, because it an economic issue, an environmental issue, and a social issue. I hope that, with this bill getting to committee, we can have a great discussion and have witnesses come.
Canada could really take a leadership role in dealing with food waste, because we have so much work to do compared to other countries.
Fight Against Food Waste Act May 12th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
In the last Parliament, in 2014, I tabled a motion on food waste, and that was because of consultation, because of witnesses coming before committee talking about food waste, and because of seeing what was happening in my community and across Canada.
Certain cities and businesses have adopted strategies. We have seen supermarkets donate food. There was a great project in Montreal and one in la Mauricie as well, working with the supermarkets, taking the food, testing it along the way, transforming it, adding value to it, and feeding people. There are a lot of things that can be done. I decided this time to have a bill, because I thought it was really important.
A lot of the food waste is done at home. Years ago, I would open my fridge and there would be furry fruit and all kinds of stuff. I did not know how to take care of my food. Therefore, I think there is a lot of work that can done just to educate people on how to take of their food at home to reduce food waste.
The other aspect was asking the minister to work with his provincial colleagues to talk about food waste. We have seen what has been done in France and other countries. I did not want to be so prescriptive, but I thought we could look at food labelling and expiration dates. There are a lot of things we can do.
It is not prescriptive, but I think it is really important to have this debate on the floor of the House of Commons. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues, and I am open to amending certain parts of the bill. It is important that we act and see what we can do to help facilitate food, to share it and feed people who are hungry. We can also look at the whole environmental impact of it, because we do have a lot to do to fight climate change.
Fight Against Food Waste Act May 12th, 2016
moved that Bill C-231, 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce in the House Bill C-231, which comes from a motion that I moved during the 41st Parliament, Motion No. 499. I put that motion on the Order Paper, but it was not debated. This time, I decided to introduce a bill because this is a timely topic and urgent action is required.
A rich country like ours should not be wasting so much food. Food waste has economic, social, and environmental impacts. According to recent studies, people in Canada wasted over 31 billion dollars' worth of food in 2015 alone.
The true cost of food waste would actually be $107 billion a year if we factored in the production and transportation costs at every step of the supply chain, for example, labour, energy, inventory, and infrastructure.
Of that waste, 47% is attributed to consumers, while the rest breaks down as follows: 10% from farmers, 4% from transportation and distribution, 10% from retail, 20% from processing, and 9% from restaurants.
From farm to plate, everyone would win from the government developing a strategy to reduce food waste. For example, consumers, who are responsible for 47% of the waste, lose an average of $771 a year. That is on average 15% of their groceries that are literally being thrown out.
According to Statistics Canada, Canadian consumers waste 183 kg of food every year. According to Value Chain Management Centre, companies with the least amount of waste are those with the highest margin and highest profits. In other words, less waste equals more profit.
In his testimony at the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Mr. Gooch, from Value Chain Management Centre said that there is a growing body of evidence that shows it is worthwhile for governments to invest more in reducing waste. He gave the United Kingdom as an example, which saw a return on its investments and initiatives to reduce food waste.
In short, combatting food waste benefits everyone. Food waste is responsible for huge volumes of greenhouse gas emissions, and this gas is 20 times more powerful than methane. Wasting one tonne of food is the equivalent of emitting 5.6 tonnes of CO2. Furthermore, food waste puts a huge amount of pressure on composting centres and, even worse, on landfills.
Overall, this type of pollution from around the world represents the world's third-largest polluter, after China and the United States. It amounts to 3.3 gigatonnes. This is just the tip of the iceberg, since this problem can affect the environment in many different ways. For example, water and land resources are literally being wasted as a result of the avoidable loss of food.
Every year, 6,750 billion litres of water are wasted. This is the equivalent of a daily consumption of 200 litres of water by 9 billion people a year.
According to 2007 global data, if food waste were a country, it would cover 1.4 billion hectares of land, an area larger that India and Canada combined, or 30% of the world's agricultural land.
It is important to note that eliminating food waste plays a role in combatting climate change. If the government and all parliamentarians in the House truly want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, I hope they will strongly support this bill.
In social terms, it is absolutely ridiculous that we waste so much food, while thousands of Canadians do not have adequate access to food.
Food waste and food insecurity are two different problems, but solving the first one could help us make things better around food insecurity.
In Canada, over four million people do not get enough to eat every day. Nearly 900,000 people, one-third of them children, use food banks every month.
In a country like ours, we should be ashamed of that. Since 2008, food bank use has grown, but it should have shrunk. In total, 1.6 million households cannot feed themselves properly every year.
We have to fight poverty in Canada and eliminate it. We have to create good jobs. We have to ensure access to employment insurance. We need good pensions.
In an effort to fight food waste, many organizations recover food across the country, including in my riding. However, recovering food does not eliminate food waste and food insecurity at the source. In the past few years, several initiatives to fight food waste have emerged.
In Quebec, organizations such as Moisson Mauricie and Moisson Montréal have launched pilot projects to reduce food waste and fight food insecurity. They work with supermarkets to recover unsold food, which is placed in bins and refrigerated or frozen at the store. The organizations visit each participating supermarket twice a week.
In collaboration with Quebec's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, volunteers from that organization ensure that the products meet grocery store requirements in terms of quality control, traceability and respecting the cold chain. In fact, all employees and volunteers must get the proper training for this program and help ensure standards are met.
The Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec, which contributes to these initiatives, notes that, “to date, 534 tonnes of food from 83 supermarkets have been redistributed to more than 66 food banks”. In recent years, community fridges have popped up in many cities in Quebec, such as Montreal, Saguenay, Sherbrooke. This initiative aims to fight food waste by having a fridge for restaurants and the public to drop off fruit, vegetables and grain products.
Volunteers trained by Quebec’s department of agriculture, fisheries and food check the fridges' contents every day. The Corporation de développement économique communautaire de Sherbrooke, which instigated one of these projects, explains it was motivated by a desire to both reduce food waste and combat food insecurity.
There are initiatives like these in every province all across the country. In fact, these types of initiatives are found all around the world. Unfortunately, the Canadian government is lagging behind other governments in the world. In 2014, Martin Gooch was already saying that Canada was trailing compared to other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, and to a number of initiatives in the United States and in Europe, for example.
Since then, France has passed legislation to significantly reduce food waste in that country. On March 17, in Italy, a legislative measure to reduce food waste was passed by the vast majority of members. Even the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has launched initiatives to fight against food waste around the world.
The Canadian government has to get on board and be a leader in this file. That is why I wanted to introduce a bill calling on the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to work with his provincial and territorial counterparts to develop a national strategy to fight against the scourge of food waste. The minister will have six months to convene a conference with the provincial and territorial representatives. He will have a total of one year to develop a pan-Canadian strategy.
In my bill, I recommend that the strategy include a plan to educate the different stakeholders about the devastating impact of waste and best practices to be adopted; rigorous targets for waste reduction for the government; the tools needed to allow consumers to reduce food waste; and various ways of reducing the environmental impact of the production of unused food resources. Raising public awareness should be very important because people change their habits over time.
For this reason, I believe that it is truly relevant and important to create a national food waste awareness day. After consulting a number of stakeholders, we chose October 16, which is the same date chosen by France. Some people had reservations about the possible negative effect of selecting the same day as World Food Day. I am open to changing the date when permitted by the legislative process.
The time is right for holding a debate and establishing a national strategy to reduce food waste.
When the bill was introduced, many groups and stakeholders said that they were pleased to see a debate on food waste, here, in the House of Commons. Among them, Centraide Mauricie and Moisson Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec believe that it is important to support this bill.
Mr. Boutet, chair of the board of directors for Centraide Mauricie, is very much in favour of this bill. In fact, he publicly supported it because food recovery is essential to his organization. He does not understand why we waste so much food, when some people do not have any. According to him, the results of food waste are disastrous because food insecurity is associated with significant health and learning problems and school dropouts.
I repeat: food recovery does not eliminate food insecurity at its source, but it is currently helping hundreds of thousands of people.
I would also like to invite all members to read the study authored by Éric Ménard from Université de Sherbrooke. Mr. Ménard is a lecturer, blogger, and food waste expert. Recently, in January 2013, he published a research report on food waste. The study was conducted here in Canada, more specifically in Sherbrooke. It shows the disastrous consequences of food waste in Canada. It helps us to better understand how big of a problem this is both here in Canada and internationally. Mr. Ménard strongly supports our bill. It is high time that we had a strategy in this regard.
I would now like to come back to the study that was conducted by the Value Chain Management Centre, which shows how important it is to put an end to food waste now.
In 2014, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food heard from Martin Gooch, the chief executive officer of this organization, around the same time that I moved my motion on waste. This organization shows how important it is to combat food waste and also offers solutions to eliminate food waste at no cost. This study also highlights the scope of the issue and offers solutions that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food could adopt or use as inspiration.
I would like to highlight the work that many countries around the world are doing. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is focused on the need to take action against food waste. The international community is watching, so now is the time to act and to show some leadership. We have the perfect opportunity to work with other nations. We must absolutely keep this momentum going. Now is the time for the Canadian government to show some leadership. This is important to our future.
In closing, the House can see that food waste is a scourge in Canada, and the situation is not improving. Food waste is important to all of us, and there are some simple solutions. This bill does not include a lot of restrictions. We are simply calling on the government to establish a national food waste awareness day and to conduct a study. I am opening the door to my colleagues, and I hope to have their support.
I am now prepared to take questions from my colleagues.
Business of Supply May 12th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech in the House.
The Liberal government often likes to talk about transparency and the importance of consulting Canadians.
It says it will do things better and do things right, which is good, but when looking at trade deals, it is important to look at the economic impact. Has there been a study? No, there has not. Is this public to Canadians? No, it is not.
What certain countries have done, like New Zealand, is release economic impact studies to parliamentarians so that they can easily evaluate the impacts, positive and negative, on the economy. I was wondering if the hon. member would comment on why the government has failed to produce an economic impact study on this important trade deal.
Business of Supply May 12th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech in the House. It is a pleasure to work with him in the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
My colleague knows full well that trade agreements undermine our supply management system. Last year, we lost more than 250 family farms in the dairy industry in Quebec. The trans-Pacific partnership and the Canada-European Union trade agreement also undermine our supply management system. The former Conservative government promised compensation.
Given how important and urgent it is to resolve the problem of diafiltered milk, the Liberal government is now saying again that it is consulting the dairy and poultry industries.
I would like my colleague to comment on the importance of compensating for losses and strengthening and defending our entire supply management system, as well as on the urgent need to act as soon as possible on the issue of diafiltered milk.
Business of Supply May 12th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for speaking to the House about the Conservatives' opposition motion.
I would just like to comment, as the member was speaking a lot about consultation and being progressive and transparent. At the agriculture committee, I had a motion on the floor when we were to, hopefully, study the TPP. It was actually voted out by some of the Liberal members on the agriculture committee, which was quite shameful and sad.
One of the questions I would have for the Minister of International Trade is this. The Conservatives proposed compensation for the dairy industry. It was $4.3 billion. It was not honoured in the last budget, and I know that the government is going to be consulting. I was just wondering whether the minister could follow up on where the Liberals are on the compensation package; and, if she could maybe comment on the importance of dealing with diafiltered milk because that was part of the compensation for the industry, which is being negatively impacted by the trade agreements.
Dairy Industry May 11th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, everyone seems to understand the need for urgent action on the diafiltered milk issue except the Liberal government.
Yesterday Agropur announced that it would stop using diafiltered milk, and dairy farmers have once again criticized the government for its failure to act. The Liberal government should be ashamed. The minister called it an emotional issue for farmers. It is an economic issue, because farmers are losing millions of dollars.
When will the Liberal government finally take action and when will the Minister of Agriculture start doing his job?
Dairy Industry May 10th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, last week, the Liberals voted against the NDP's motion to immediately resolve the problem of diafiltered milk. Instead, the government proudly announced that it was going to spend the next 30 days conducting more consultations with producers and the industry. The industry has lost $18 million. More consultations, no action, and no promise to really solve the problem of diafiltered milk.
Can the minister reassure producers and promise to finally solve the problem of diafiltered milk in the next 25 days?
Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1. May 10th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech in the House today.
In his remarks, he talked about the budget and the importance of supporting seniors and young people. However, the budget tabled by the Liberal government makes no mention whatsoever of agriculture, and yet we all know how important agriculture is to the Canadian economy.
The previous Conservative government had promised funding, specifically $4.3 billion in compensation for the dairy and poultry industries in light of certain trade agreements. This compensation is really important.
However, the budget tabled by the Liberal government makes no mention whatsoever of agriculture or compensation for those industries.
I would like the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin to comment on that.