Julien Gignac/Yukon News MP Larry Bagnell, alongside Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announce $15 million in funding to bolster food security in the North during a media briefing in Whitehorse on July 8.

Federal government announces $15M for Northern food strategy

A federal minister said 17 per cent of Yukoners are food insecure right now

The federal government has earmarked $15 million to bolster food security in the North.

MP Larry Bagnell, alongside Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, made the announcement on July 8 on the grounds of the territorial government’s research farm.

“The investment will help communities to lead projects that will strengthen local Indigenous food systems, increase productions and access to local foods and provide training to boost skills,” Bibeau said. “The goal is to reduce dependence on the southern food industry and to reduce costs.

“Here in the North, many communities have the highest rates of food insecurity in Canada. This is especially true for Northern Indigenous people.”

Bibeau said that 17 per cent of Yukoners are food insecure.

“I understand this number is even higher in Arctic regions, where food can only be delivered by ice road, ship or by plane,” she said.

According to a press release, Nunavut has the highest rates of household food insecurity in Canada.

“With the help of research, analysis and input based here in the North, the government of Canada is learning more about the unique challenges that you face when it comes to food,” said Bibeau, referring to things like transportation and storage.

The money is to be stretched across the three territories over five years. Nine million will go to businesses and communities to strengthen regional food industries; $3.5 million is earmarked for a working group to get a handle on economic opportunities; $2.5 is allotted for implementation.

The investment dovetails with a recently introduced policy that seeks to bring about higher levels of food security across the country.

“That Canada’s food system is resilient and innovative, sustains our environment and supports our economy,” Bibeau said.

Asked by reporters for the types of projects the money could support, she said they could include greenhouses and better adapted crops suited to the region.

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency has been charged with delivering investment. This fall it will facilitate meetings with partners, in terms of how to go about implementation.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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