The time for all Nova Scotians to go to the ballot box is quickly approaching. The Our Food Project team is always interested in food/ agricultural issues and during the election is no different. We have put our focus behind four key food priority areas: food insecurity, institutional procurement, agricultural land and school food.
Why were these areas a priority? All Nova Scotians have a right to affordable and nutritious food and reducing the high rates of food insecurity in Nova Scotia (15.4% in 2014 the highest of all Canadian Provinces) is a very complex issue that needs to be addressed. The cost of a nutritious diet has increased by 63% from 2002 to 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down. The Provincial government can help reduce food insecurity by ensuring all Nova Scotians have an adequate income to meet their basic needs, as poverty is the root cause of food insecurity. In addition, children that are well-nourished have better health and do better at school which will lay the foundation for a positive future.
With only 29% of the land in Nova Scotia suitable for agriculture, it is important to protect it for future generations of farmers. Furthermore, the number of farmers/ fishers in Nova Scotia could grow and be more prosperous if public institutions would purchase more food/fish from local producers which would make our agricultural and fisheries industries more resilient for the future.
How do the party’s platforms address food issues?
The Liberal, NDP and PC party platforms were released last week. A full analysis of how each parties platforms align with the key food priorities areas listed above, is available here.
In summary, most parties listed several initiatives to focus on reducing poverty across the province. The Liberals Blueprint to end Poverty will invest $7 million over four years in employment and skills development, and address barriers such as the cost of transit, communication and education. They will lower the cost of living by implementing full day pre-primary for 4 year olds, invest $51 million in affordable housing and reduce taxes by increasing the Basic Personal exemption by $3000 for incomes up to $25000 and on a sliding scale for incomes up to $75000. The NDP also plan on investing in affordable housing ($47.18 million) and sustainable public transportation ($49.45 million). They are going a step further to address poverty with a plan to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15/hr, increase social assistance rates, begin the design phase of a basic income guarantee and eliminate tuition for all students enrolled in NSCC. PC are focusing of cutting taxes to get the cost of living down and also raising the Basic Personal Amount by $3000 for people with incomes below $75000.
In regards to agricultural specific initiatives: the PC will set new EGSPA (Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act) targets, the Liberals will pass a Biodiversity act and a Building Tomorrow fund for the farming and fishing sector and the NDP will create a new food security mandate, establish the department of Agriculture and Food, provide start-up funding for a small farms marketing board and change the cycle for small farm operating grants.
Want to raise the profile of key food issues this provincial election but unsure where to start? Check out our social media tool kits for each of our food priority areas: School Food, Institutional Procurement, Agricultural Land and Food Insecurity. They contain quick facts, sample questions for candidates, social media sample posts to help you create social media buss about food.
Make sure you get out and vote on or before May 30th!
The Greens and the Atlantica party did not have platforms available at the time of creating this posting.
Blog Written By: Katrina Ross, Ecology Action Centre, Senior Coordinator, Network and Policy Development
Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre.
Learn more about our program at https://www.ecologyaction.ca/ourfood
Or follow us on:
Twitter: @OurFoodProject and @ecologyaction
Facebook: The Ecology Action Centre