QUESTIONS ON PRIORITIZING FOOD
All questions from the audience were submitted to the candidates' offices on May 25th, 2018. As we receive replies, we will update this page.
Ontario Liberal Party
1) Food security is dependent on having farmland available to grow the crops and an agricultural infrastructure to support it. The existing Greenbelt has been successful in achieving this and has 95% support among the voting public and is endorsed by all political parties. Do you think the expansion of the Greenbelt to Simcoe County can achieve the same objective?
The Greenbelt is important to the preservation of needed farmland. The Liberal government has backed this important public asset and has announced its intention to expand the Greenbelt. I have every reason to believe the Greenbelt is important to Simcoe County and can satisfy this objective.
2) Improper waste disposal continues to have a huge impact on our environment. To encourage participation in proper waste/compost management, will there be a penalty for improper disposal of waste or compost or incentives for the ones who participate in the programs?
The Liberal government has implemented legislation that sets the proper waste direction – “producer responsibility.” We have to move away from a society that allows waste disposal to be the responsibility of the taxpayer. Grants/penalties /incentives are the techniques that will be used to ensure we meet provincial waste reduction goals.
3) When it is clear that poverty is a major contributor to food insecurity, how will tax cuts and deferring hydro costs to future generations contribute to food security?
Poverty will not be addressed by tax cuts. That is why the Liberal government is invested in looking at a basic income, one of the social determinants that underpins being able to make healthy food choices.
Deferring hydro costs is a financial means to smooth out the cost of fixing our aging hydro grid. Just as families have a mortgage as opposed to paying the entire cost of buying a house upfront, refinancing over time is a sensible way to pay for the needed repairs.
4) What can families do to encourage healthy eating instead of fast food?
Families can vote with their wallets – avoid fast foods and use healthy food sources. Families can also practice this at home and ensure their schools provide healthy choices. The Simcoe Muskoka District health Unit can provide a lot of good advice on this matter.
5) Is food literacy something that will be introduced in the school curriculum, and at what level. If not, why is it not a focus?
Food literacy is a broad term. Most school boards in our area are active in promoting healthy foods. For example: Ontario's School Food and Beverage Policy
6) What would you do to create more local food related businesses?
A food related business has to make sense as a business. Over and above being a “food business” we need proper education for our entrepreneurs, appropriate start-up grants/financing, employment supports and simplified business formation. The Liberal government has numerous support programs in these areas and has recently reduced the tax on small business.
The business then has to sell its service to the market. The promotion of healthy foods by government agencies should assist with this effort.
7) Preserving farmland is essential for food security. Is there a role for the Greenbelt in protecting farmland and do you and your party support expanding the Greenbelt into Simcoe County?
Yes and yes.
8) Not having honest (food) labels hurts the farmer, consumer, value of food, the local food economy as a whole. How would you ensure the public is receiving honest information when it comes to food/food labeling at farmers’ markets? Eg: wholesaler vs. farmer, local food vs. food labelled as local, pesticide sprayed vs. organic.
A complex question as this gets into marketing, communications and trade barriers. As opposed to a long dissertation, I support honest and non-confusing information on food, balanced by recognizing the burden this places on farmers, distributors, retailers and business. Over the coming years new technology will improve our ability to track food stuffs and tell consumers what they are truly buying.
9) What initiatives do you plan on funding to support increase (food) access to remote food deserts like Christian Island?
Food deserts are created by the economics of communities and their social practices. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit provides advice and direction on the nature of the problem in the community. Changing the food landscape will likely come through different channels. The Liberal government is actively piloting a basic income approach that will allow residents the financial capacity to support local food sources. New food distribution technologies from low tech “The Good Food Box”, medium tech “Heart to Home Meals” to high tech “ Instacart” will be involved in the solution
10) How will you plan/action the incorporation of cultural food competency into the current system we have now, (including practices) that are relevant to FNMI people and how we identify through those practices? Eg: foraging, hunting, fishing
This is a complex topic that I will not respond to without appropriate consultation with FNMI groups. We get into trouble by thinking we can dictate cultural practices to our First Nations/Metis/indigenous communities.
11) Are you prepared to fully support Greenbelt expansion of Bluebelt in Simcoe County?
I am not aware of a specific Greenbelt expansion plan so would want to review that before committing.
12) Do you think that financial literacy and nutritional education could lead to less food insecurity in our riding and our classrooms?