Rural Canada matters for healthy home-grown food
KING TOWNSHIP, ON – Following a tour of Holland Acres farm, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff committed to helping Canadians eat healthier, home-grown food through a new National Food Policy based on healthy eating, safe food, sustainable farm incomes, environmental farmland stewardship and international leadership.
“We need more home-grown food on Canadian tables – because our health and our economy depend on it,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “Our farmers produce the healthiest, safest, highest-quality foods in the world – and we’ll help them get more of their products on our tables with Canada’s first comprehensive National Food Policy.”
While farmers and our agri-food sector provide one out of every eight jobs and generate $42 billion in annual economic activity, the economic crisis has strained the pillar of our rural communities – our farms – to the breaking point.
Mr. Ignatieff pledged that a future Liberal government will implement Canada’s first comprehensive National Food Policy focusing on five areas for action:
• Healthy living, including an $80-million Buy Local Fund to promote farmers’ markets and home-grown foods, a $40-million Healthy Start program to help 250,000 low-income children access healthy foods, introducing progressive health labelling and tough standards on trans fats, and launching a Healthy Choices program to help Canadians make informed eating decisions;
• Safe food, by implementing all of the Weatherill Report recommendations and investing $50 million in improving food inspections and ensuring imported foods meet our tough domestic standards;
• Sustainable farm incomes, with a Clean Slate Commitment to build practical, bankable farm programs in partnership with farmers and restore AgriFlex to offer regionally flexible programs that help meet the costs of production;
• Environmental farmland stewardship, by strengthening Environmental Farm Plans, improving fertilizer and pesticide management, and rewarding farmers for their role in clean energy production and protecting wildlife habitat; and
• International leadership, to promote Canadian food internationally and expand Canada’s share of high-value export markets while also fostering food security in Africa and the world’s poorest nations.
“We can’t prevent disease, fight obesity or control health care costs if we don’t get more healthy home-grown food on our tables,” said Liberal Health Critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett. “Our farmers will be central to meeting the health care challenge of the next decade.”
“We’re working with farmers to build new farm programs from the farm up, and not Ottawa down,” said Liberal Agriculture Critic Wayne Easter. “Farmers have told us that a new National Food Policy must wipe the slate clean to create regionally flexible programs by farmers, for farmers.”
The National Food Policy is the second part of the Liberal Party’s “Rural Canada Matters” initiative. Mr. Ignatieff recently announced the Liberal Party’s plan to help attract doctors and nurses to underserved rural communities.
“We’re presenting Canadians with a clear choice,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “The Liberal choice is to pay down the deficit and invest in priorities like a comprehensive National Food Policy, while Stephen Harper has chosen more tax cuts for corporations that our country and our families can’t afford.”
At the recent Canada at 150 conference, Mr. Ignatieff announced that a Liberal government will freeze corporate income tax rates in Canada. The Harper Conservative government’s priority is to continue cutting Canada’s corporate income tax rates – already among the lowest in the G7 – from 18% to 15% when our country can’t afford to. A Liberal government would use the savings from a corporate income tax freeze – between $5 billion and $6 billion a year – to invest in deficit reduction and economic initiatives like the National Food Policy announced today.