Northern nutrition subsidy to cover “country foods”

The “country foods” harvested and processed in Canada’s North will be eligible for the retail subsidies other foods will get from the federal Nutrition North Canada program.

Country foods are those obtained through local hunting, fishing or harvesting activities, such as caribou, seal, ptarmigan, arctic char, shellfish or berries.

“Having spent time living in the North, I realize the importance country foods have for Northerners from both a cultural and nutritional standpoint,” Kenora, Ont. MP Greg Rickford said in a release Thursday announcing the foods’ inclusion in the new program.

Country foods processed by federally regulated plants in the North will be eligible for the program’s retail subsidy, which the government said will support “more efficient distribution” of country foods among eligible communities.

Rickford, who’s also parliamentary secretary for Indian affairs and northern development, made the announcement in Nunavut after touring northern stores and food processing plants at Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay.

The Nutrition North Canada program takes effect April 1, with the goal of making “nutritious, perishable foods accessible to Canadians living in isolated northern communities.”

The program was announced in May last year for start-up this spring, replacing the Food Mail Program.

In an effort to give Northerners “more time to adjust” to the Nutrition North Canada program, the federal government more recently said it would temporarily expand the list of items eligible for subsidy to include all food, as well as most of the non-food items that had been eligible for Food Mail subsidies.

That change will be in effect from when the new program begins in April, through to Oct. 1, 2012. All other aspects of the new program “remain unchanged.”

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