Nunatsiaq News
LETTERS: Nunavut February 18, 2011 - 9:00 am

Reader wants Ottawa to scrap Nutrition North


Editor’s note: This is a copy of letter addressed to Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, and others.

I am writing to ask you work with your government to scrap the Nutrition North program and bring back the former food mail program.

Here in Arctic Bay, food is now out of reach for many people and will only get worse on April 1.

This program is increasing poverty in the north and will soon be causing malnutrition, especially amongst children, as less and less food can be afforded. Do you really want hunger as your legacy as a member of Parliament and minister of the Crown?

As you are well aware, under the food mail program food and essentials such as toothpaste, soaps, toilet paper and tampons, were shipped to isolated communities at a cost of 80 cents per kg.

Here in Arctic Bay, current freight rates to Val d’Or, the originating location of much of our food shipments, is $13.23 per kg. Many items, such as cream for baking and cooking, bacon, are now shipping at $13.23/kg.

Have you ever paid $15 for a pound of bacon? How about $8 for a pint of cream? Would you?

Under Nutrition North all food and essentials will be coming here at $13.23 per kg. The subsidies, which go to the retailer and have no guarantee of being passed on, amount to $7.80 and $6.70 per kilogram.

Meaning in real terms that our food is going up a minimum of $5.63 per kg. I challenge you to fly up at your own and not the government’s cost and buy a week’s worth of groceries here in Arctic Bay.

People like myself that have decent jobs are feeling the pinch. We spend almost $100 a day on groceries. But as you know, decent jobs are hard to come by in the High Arctic.

Many of the citizens of Arctic Bay are on social assistance, which hasn’t been increased in years) and can little afford decent food at the old prices. They will now find it impossible.

For the first time in our history, we’ve needed to open a food bank here in Arctic Bay, just so people get a little to eat and not go hungry. Again, I ask you, is this the legacy that you hope to have?

Explanations that retailers will be able to negotiate better freight rates ring very hollow in a region that is served by an airline with a monopoly and retailers that have traditionally squeezed as many dollars as they can from their clients.

An airline that has shown that it seeks to maximize profits above all else, one that has set fares between here and Ottawa of $5,000 will not do anything to see costs go down, unless it is forced to.

Neither retailer nor airline have any incentive whatsoever to negotiate lower freight rates. They have a captive market. Even if they did, it is very unlikely that that would return freight rates to the rates under the food mail program.

All indications are that we are heading soon to a federal election. I will notvote for any candidate in Nunavut that supports Nutrition North and doesn’t seek a return to food mail.

I will support a candidate that works to over turn implementation of Food Mail. I have never belonged to any political party and have always voted for the candidate I feel is the best for the riding where I live.

However, I will work tirelessly in any upcoming federal election to see that any candidate supporting Nutrition North will not be elected.

Thank you. I hope that you will listen to the growing voices in the north, and do what is right to fight hunger and poverty in your riding.

Clare Kines
Arctic Bay

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