Nunavut Member of Parliament Lori Idlout is expressing concerns about Northerners not receiving the full benefits of the Nutrition North Canada (NNC) program.

The program, which is meant to help make nutritious food and essential items more affordable and more accessible for remote communities across Canada, still isn’t effective enough, according to the MP.

“For me it’s just the fact that while consumers, most who are Indigenous, are experiencing higher than normal levels of poverty, CEO and shareholders are still getting profits. What my huge concern is about: why is the federal government subsidizing these for-profit corporations serving the NNC program when the program is supposed to be about alleviating poverty,” Idlout said.

The problem, explains the MP, is that private grocery providers monitor their own use of the subsidies provided by the Nutrition North program.

“There needs to be a better system to monitor funds used by Nutrition North because right now Northmart is allowed to monitor their own use of the subsidy. The federal government does not audit the program,” she contended. “The last audit was back in 2019 and this audit was for the years 2014-2017, so the audits need to be more regular, and when they are happening, they need to make sure they are implementing the recommendations that have been made to make sure that it’s actually reaching its objectives.”

Idlout added that more money should be invested in local harvesting programs.

“The Nutrition North program does have a harvester support community program. I think that needs to be increased rather than having a bigger budget for profit corporations. Hunters that provide food for their families and feed whole communities should be compensated better for how expensive it is to go hunting. There should be better support for individuals that are providing healthy nutritious food as opposed to a program that doesn’t necessarily work all that well,” said Idlout.

The federal politician representing Nunavut concluded with another concern brought to her attention when it comes to feeding the North: “Some people were telling me that sometimes when the fresh produce arrives from the plane it’s already expired. That too is a problem we need to talk about.”

The Government of Canada and the North West Company, owner of Northmart, did not respond to questions from Nunavut News prior to publication deadline.

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