The Green Party of Canada commends UN Special Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter on his honest appraisal of Canada’s status with respect to the right to food.
After an 11-day visit to Canada, during which he met with citizens across Canada and received testimonies in-person and by mail from Canadians, including significant interaction with Canadian First Nations representatives, the Special Rapporteur issued his preliminary report May 16, 2012.
“We are deeply indebted to the United Nations and the Special Rapporteur for highlighting the crisis in social assistance and food security in this country. We share his concern regarding the deep and severe food insecurity faced by aboriginal peoples across Canada living both on- and off-reserve in remote and urban areas as well as the food insecurity faced by families on social assistance. 1 in 4 First Nations children live in poverty, with poverty affecting some 3 million Canadians. It is completely unacceptable,” said Vanessa Long, Social Services Critic for the Green Party of Canada.
“As Minister Kenney pointed out, we are a wealthy nation with a high standard of living and M. De Schutter was right on that our privileged status makes it even more unacceptable that 1 in 10 families with a child under 6 are food insecure,” commented Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, “Canadian Parliamentarians committed in 1989 to eradicating child poverty by 2000 and here we are 23 years later and the levels are basically the same. Ineffective policies and lip service have been paid to the issue but we are forced to ask if they really care at all.”
“M. De Schutter has very clearly connected the dots between callous government policy toward our most vulnerable citizens, the increasing gap between the wealthy and poor in Canada, social assistance levels that every year fall further behind the rising costs of living, and Food Bank usage that is increasing,” Ms. Long continued, “These are not merely accidents of a global economy as our government would have us believe, but the logical result of decades of mismanagement by this country’s governments at all levels. Canada has no national food policy or strategy and no means to deal with systemic issues relating to food, hunger, and food systems.”
“The current government has made it clear that they do not consider food security a right for all Canadians and their policies and inaction in the face of a national crisis in our poorest households fits right in with their emphasis on oil and gas first, everything else last As Greens, we are a values-driven Party, and one of our six values is social justice. You can be assured that eradicating child poverty would be a top priority with any Green government, in Canada or elsewhere,” Ms. May concluded.