Nutrition North Canada

Name of lead department: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)

Federal partner organizations: Health Canada

Start date: April 1, 2011

End date: Ongoing

Total federal funding allocated (start to end date): $327,234,325Footnote 1 over five years

Description: The objective of the Nutrition North Canada Program is to help make perishable, nutritious food more accessible and more affordable than it otherwise would be to residents of eligible isolated northern communities without year-round surface (road, rail or marine) access.

Registered retailers in the North, country food processors/distributors located in eligible communities, and food suppliers in the South who supply small retailers, institutions and individuals in these isolated communities, can apply for a subsidy based on the weight of eligible foods shipped by air to eligible northern communities. These subsidies are to be passed on to northern consumers by appropriate reductions in the selling prices of eligible foods. The Nutrition North Canada Program — National Manual will govern the terms of the funding agreements with INAC's subsidy recipients (northern and southern retailers/wholesalers).

Since price is not the only factor that influences nutritious choices, the Program will also be supported by targeted Health Canada initiatives that encourage the purchase, preparation and consumption of healthy foods. Funding will flow to communities via contribution agreements with Indigenous communities and organizations, and/or territorial governments.

Shared outcome: By making perishable, nutritious foods more accessible and affordable than they otherwise would be, consumption of these foods in the North may increase, thereby contributing to better overall health of the population, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. It is expected that the subsidy will help lower the prices of perishable, nutritious foods in the North. In combination with complementary health promotion activities, it is expected that consumption of these foods will increase in the short- and mid-term. In the longer term, more individuals living in eligible communities are expected to adopt healthier eating patterns, which will contribute to decreases in the rates of chronic and infectious diseases.

Governance structure: The Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board gives Northerners a direct voice in the Program. The Board provides information and advice to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to help guide the direction and activities of the Program, and to ensure that northern residents receive its full benefits. Members of the Board collectively represent the perspectives and interests of northern residents and communities in relation to the management and effectiveness of the Program. Members serve in their own right, as volunteers and not as representatives of any particular organization, area or special interest. Members are appointed to a three-year term.

Performance Highlights: In 2015–2016, INAC continued to address food insecurity in the North by supporting access to perishable, nutritious foods in Canada's isolated northern communities. The Department provided information to the public by posting compliance reviews, shipping data and price reports on the program website, and engaged Northern communities through social media and the program's Advisory Board. On January 9, 2016, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs met with Northerners and stakeholders in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to gather ideas on how to update the program and keep it on a sustainable path.

Performance Information
Federal organizations Link to the organization's program Contributing programs and activities Total allocation (from start to end date) (dollars) 2015–2016 Planned spending (dollars) 2015–2016 Actual spending (dollars) 2015–2016 Expected results 2015–2016 Actual results against targets
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Northern Governance and People Nutrition North Canada $301,427,825a $71,716,369b $70,497,736 ER1.1 T1.1
Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Primary Health Care (PAA First Nations and Inuit Healthy Living) Nutrition North Canada Nutrition Education Initiatives $14,500,000 (2011–2012 to 2015–2016, and ongoing annually at $2,900,000) $2,900,000 $2,707,115 ER1.2 T1.2
Total for all federal organizations $315,927,825 $74,616,369 $73,204,851  
a INAC funding $286,859,500 + $14,568,325 (escalator) = $301,427,825. The Vote 10 (escalator) is frozen, condition met in 2015–2016.
b $57,148,044 + $14,568,325 (escalator) = $71,716,369. The Vote 10 (escalator) is frozen, condition met in 2015–2016.
2015–2016 Expected results 2015–2016 Targets 2015–2016 Actual results against targetsa
Residents in eligible communities have access to perishable, nutritious food at a subsidized rate.
The annual average Revised Northern Food Basket is comparable to the annual trend (increase/decrease) for the Consumer Price Index basket of food.
100% of compliance reports demonstrating that subsidies have been fully passed on to consumers.
Between March 2015 and March 2016, the Revised Northern Food Basket for communities that were then eligible for a full subsidy increased by 2.04%, while "food purchased from stores" in the Consumer Price Index, as reported by Statistics Canada, increased by 4.16%, suggesting that the NNC subsidy had a positive impact on the cost of food in these communities.
In 2015–2016, 100% of the five compliance reviews found that the subsidy was fully passed on to northern consumers; further, three of the five compliance reviews clearly demonstrated that the profit margin has not eroded the subsidy. The remaining two compliance reviews (less than 0.01 percent of the $68.4 million in subsidies spent in 2015–2016) were not able to conclude whether or not the profit margin applied eroded the subsidy, requiring further investigation before providing a conclusive analysis.
Residents in eligible communities have knowledge of healthy eating and skills to choose and prepare nutritious foods.
72 communities served by Nutrition North Canada nutrition education initiatives
1,300 Nutrition North Canada nutrition education activities supported at the community level
Health Canada achieved the following:
  • 76 communities received support for Nutrition North Canada nutrition education initiatives.
  • More than 1,500 Nutrition North Canada nutrition education activities were delivered, such as: the promotion of healthy food knowledge and skills among children, youth and adults in school and community settings; in-store taste tests and grocery store tours; and traditional food harvesting and preparation.
  • Outcomes observed by Nutrition North Canada community workers include increased:
    • awareness of healthy foods;
    • interest and skills in gardening, healthy eating and cooking;
    • children and youth preparing food for others;
    • demand for certain activities (e.g. community cooking);
    • partnerships in the community.
a Performance indicators are defined in the Performance Measurement Strategies and/or Performance Measurement Frameworks of each federal partner.

Comments on variances:
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
The difference between Planned Spending and Actual Spending primarily reflects the postponement of the engagement strategy during the election period.

Health Canada
The variance between Planned and Actual Spending is mainly due to efficiency realized through the sharing of program delivery costs, coordinating travel to communities, and offering training sessions jointly with Health Canada programs such as the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative.

Results achieved by non-federal partners and non-governmental partners: To support community consultation and engagement, the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board held a face-to-face Advisory Board meeting in July 2015, including a public meeting with community members on July 27, 2015 in Kugluktuk, Nunavut.

Contact information:
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Diane Robinson
Director, Nutrition North Canada
Northern Affairs Organization
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Telephone: 819-934-3171

Health Canada
Mary Trifonopoulos
Acting Senior Manager, Healthy Living/Population Health and Wellness Division,
Population Health and Primary Care Directorate
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada
Telephone: 613-292-7518

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