Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Cathy Towtongie today welcomed the change announced to the Nutrition North Canada program earlier this week. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt announced that effective April 1, 2016, retailers would be required to implement a point-of-sale system to show consumers how the subsidy is being applied to their purchases. The government said the new system will provide greater transparency and accountability by ensuring that customers can see on their receipts how the Nutrition North Canada subsidy is applied.
Towtongie said NTI has publicly and privately called on the government to develop regulations that would make the program more transparent and accountable to Inuit.
“Minister Valcourt’s decision is a step in the right direction. This change will allow Inuit to see exactly how this government subsidy is being used to reduce the extremely high cost of food in our communities,” said Towtongie. “However, this is only a small step in the right direction. Inuit want further changes including involvement in the program’s decision-making process, including the engagement of NTI directly, and making decisions about the redesign of the program. NTI plans to continue to exert strong pressure on the current government, as well as the next government.”
The Nutrition North Canada program has been heavily criticized for years because users assert that the subsidy is not passed on to consumers. The most recent criticism stemmed from the Auditor-General.