Whitehorse: Eight months after the introduction of the new Nutrition North Canada Program (NNCP) Old Crow residents are paying more than double to have a personal food order shipped to their community, says Darius Elias, MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin. The program is not meeting is own objectives which are to ‘ensure that healthy foods are more accessible and affordable’.
“This is exactly what my community predicted would happen and our concerns fell on deaf ears,” he said. “The change from a transportation subsidy to a retail subsidy, combined with the decision to no longer cover surcharges and taxes, has dramatically increased the cost of getting food into Old Crow. It is really having an impact on the family pocketbook.”
A 50 kg Level 1 personal order shipment now costs residents approximately $96 under the NNCP and the same shipment used to cost $40.75 under the old Food Mail Program. Level 1 foods include fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, eggs, milk and cereals.
“The Government of Canada would not get away with allowing the price of food to double in Whitehorse or Toronto but is doesn’t seem very concerned that it has happened on Old Crow,” he said. “If residents of Whitehorse were only able to shop at one store it would probably get some attention as well.”
Today Elias repeated the same advice he gave Ottawa before the program was changed, “There should be an exemption and some flexibility in the new program to maintain the same personal shipping transportation subsidy from Whitehorse to Old Crow of “nutritious perishable foods”, “non-perishable foods”, “non-food items” and “essential non-food items” by the residents of Old Crow via Air North. The transportation subsidy should be administered by Air North with the company being accountable directly to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.”
Elias says he intends to raise the issue with the new Premier, and all MLAs, when the legislature reconvenes next month.
“The Yukon Party government has been supportive of my constituents concerns on this issue and I hope the Premier will work with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to ensure that improvements are made to this program,” he said. “The federal Minister’s view that the primary focus of the program is to helpcommunity-based retailers offer nutritious foods at more affordable proces to the greatest number of resisents ignores the reality of how food gets to Old Crow and he needs to rethink how he is going to meet the programs objectives. Unique situations require unique solutions.”
Contact: Jason Cunning 667-8942
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