Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Canada: Right to Food Issues Raised

(May 24, 2012) Olivier De Schutter, who has been the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food since appointed to the post by the U.N. Human Rights Council four years ago, released a statement about food security in Canada on May 16, 2012. He said:

Canada has long been seen as a land of plenty. Yet today one in ten families with a child under six is unable to meet their daily food needs. These rates of food insecurity are unacceptable, and it is time for Canada to adopt a national right to food strategy. … What I've seen in Canada is a system that presents barriers for the poor to access nutritious diets and that tolerates increased inequalities between rich and poor, and Aboriginal non-Aboriginal peoples. (Press Release, U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Canada: National Food Strategy Can Eradicate Hunger Amidst Plenty – UN Rights Expert (May 16, 2012).)

While expressing confidence that Canada could make progress in the area of food security, the Rapporteur called on the government there to convene a conference and determine the steps to be taken by various levels of administrative units to address the problem. (Id.)

De Schutter pointed to three areas of special concern:

  • the 800,000 households that face a lack of food, with the food banks that rely on charity being an inadequate solution;
  • the high rate of obesity in the country, in part resulting from poverty that makes it difficult for families to obtain healthy food; and
  • the particular difficulties faced by the aboriginal peoples of the country, who sometimes live in remote areas, with emphasis on the need to improve the Nutrition North Canada program. (Id.)

Nutrition North Canada is a government “retail subsidy program focused on increasing access to perishable healthy food in isolated northern communities.” (Nutrition North Canada (last visited May 21, 2012).)

De Schutter praised Canada for its good overall human rights record, adding that “hunger and access to adequate diets, too, are human rights issues – and here much remains to be done.” (UN Expert Urges Canada to Adopt National Strategy to Ensure Right to Food, UN NEWS CENTRE (May 16, 2012).)