Lower Food Prices in Northern Canada

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Target: Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Goal: Lower Nunavut’s food prices, which are subject to high inflation.

Nunavut, the largest and northernmost Canadian territory, is currently victim to outrageous inflation in food prices. Ordinary families cannot afford to pay $28 for a head of cabbage or $65 for a pound of chicken. Sundries, such as soap and diapers, are also out of reach for most.

To put it in perspective, a family of four on food assistance only gets $275-$325 per week. When it is actually more cost effective to fly round-trip to Edmonton, Alberta for one’s grocery shopping, there is a serious problem. The situation has become so severe that some grocery store staff have been shamed into selling their products for less after locals protested at the stores. According to Leesee Papatsie, an Iqaluit mother of four who organized the protest, “Every Inuit in Nunavut knows someone in their family or in their community that is hungry that day.”

Part of the problem is that the Nutrition North program, which is intended to subsidize healthy food, only subsidizes it for grocery chains and retailers, not the customers. There is no requirement that grocery stores pass on the subsidies to customers in their prices. Other costs factor in as well. Shipping food from other areas of Canada is expensive (it costs $500 to ship about $200 worth of groceries), and hunting is only possible for those who can afford snowmobiles, hunting equipment, and lost wages. 42% of Inuit people say hunting is too expensive for them, according to Inuit Tapirisat Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization.

Though remote and sparsely populated, mostly by Inuit people, Nunavut needs food and basic sundries, just like all other Canadian citizens. When the majority cannot meet those needs, it is the government’s job to step in.

The problem is complex and entails many factors, but the first step to solving a difficult problem is to recognize it and explore options. Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss and implement solutions to bring down food prices in Nunavut.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minster Stephen Harper,

The inflation of food prices in Nunavut has gone too far. Ordinary families can no longer feed themselves at current costs and have staged protests at their local grocery stores. The fact that it is more cost-effective for Nunavut families to fly to Edmonton and back to do their grocery shopping is, to be perfectly frank, outrageous.

Alternatives are implausible as well. Shipping $200 worth of groceries to Nunavut costs $500, which is not realistic for most residents. According to Inuit Tapirisat Kanatami, 42% of Inuit people say hunting is too expensive for them, since it requires snowmobiles, hunting equipment, and time off work.

Residents of Nunavut need the Canadian government to step in if they are to feed themselves. I realize this is a complicated problem with many factors and without an obvious solution, but something needs to be done now. Please explore and implement solutions for bringing food prices down in Nunavut.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. It too bad that you changed a program completely instead of tweaking it. This new program has made matters worse and food out of reach for many people. Poverty is a huge problem in Nunavut.We are literally like the third world. This is shameful in a prosperous Canada. We are the forgotten people. Obesity and diabetes are now rampant in Nunavut due to people eating lower costing processed food that is unhealthy and people are depressed and stressed about the situation; they then turn for comfort food (junkfood) and the vicious circle continues. This is not helping the high suicide rate in Nunavut. This is costing the Government a fortune of healthcare costs and human lives. It is true that hunting game which is often far to obtain is very expensive. The cost of mobile equipment, parts to repair them ( they often break down due to our harsh environment) gas, camping and hunting equipment is extremely expensive and impossible for many families just trying to survive from day to day. Many Inuit now just to survive, sell their game meat and fish instead of sharing it as was the custom for thousands of years with the extended family and the community. For lower income families, they cannot afford to buy that either. The Government brought all Inuit who were once independant and self reliant off the land to centralized communities, sent their children to residential schools where many lost their culture on how to hunt and being self reliant and many other social problems.
    The population of people in Nunavut has increased ,putting a lot of pressure on wildlife/fish surrounding the immediate communities making them more inacessable due to increased hunting pressure and noise disturbance near surrounding communities. Hence people have to travel much further now to hunt and fish, which is more expensive.
    It is a multifacet problem which is a challenge to improve. The Government must listen closely what the people are saying, the statistics that do not lie and do something to improve the lives of people here in Nunavut who hold Canadian sovereingty for the rest of Canada. They are more important and effective than a military presence up here.

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