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Oral Questions. Nunavut MLA for Quttiktuq, Mr. Ron Elliott on the Nutrition North Canada Program & access to healthy foods

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  • George Lessard
    *NUNAVUT HANSARD UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2012 IQALUIT, NUNAVUT* *[excerpt] [emphasis added]* Oral Questions. Member for Quttiktuq, Mr.
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 24, 2012
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      *NUNAVUT HANSARD UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2012 IQALUIT,
      NUNAVUT*
      *[excerpt] [emphasis added]*
      Oral Questions. Member for Quttiktuq, Mr. Elliott.
      Question 408 – 3(3): Update on Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meetings of
      Ministers of Health (Elliott)
      Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of
      Health and Social Services.
      On September 27, 2012, *Canada’s provincial and territorial ministers of
      health* met in Halifax to discuss issues of concern. I was very pleased to
      note that the official communiqué from this meeting announced that all of
      the provincial and territorial ministers of health have joined together to,
      and I quote,* “encourage the federal government to expand the Nutrition
      North Canada Program to ensure Canadians living in Northern and remote
      communities can benefit from improved access to healthy foods.”*
      On September 28, 2012, our minister and his provincial and territorial
      colleagues met with the federal Minister of Health. Can the minister advise
      the House if he took this opportunity to directly raise the issue of the
      Nutrition North Canada Program during this meeting? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Department of
      Health and Social Services, Minister Peterson.
      Hon. Keith Peterson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank Mr. Elliott for that
      excellent detective work, tracking my movements in Halifax. It was a very
      good FPT meeting. I am very encouraged by the support that the northern
      ministers had from the provinces. We did talk about Nutrition North.
      *I was able to enlighten my southern colleagues about the “Feeding My
      Family” Facebook page, which has well over 20,000 friends. I enlightened
      them about some of the costs and challenges of getting food into Nunavut,
      standing in line at the stores and seeing the charges that people who are
      checking out have to pay.
      It was very encouraging. It was very heartening that we received that
      support and health ministers recognize that healthy and nutritious food is
      an important factor in the health of our citizens, especially our younger
      citizens. We talked about early childhood development and babies getting
      the sources of food early in their lives.*
      Mr. Speaker, in my meeting with the minister herself, there were three
      territorial ministers there and we did not discuss Nutrition North. Thank
      you, Mr. Speaker.
      Speaker: Thank you, Minister Peterson. Your first supplementary, Mr.
      Elliott.
      Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the House will recall, I worked
      with a number of northern Parliamentarians earlier this year to write
      directly to the federal Minister of Health and Aboriginal Affairs
      concerning the Nutrition North Canada Program. So I am very pleased that we
      now have every province and territory government working together to
      advocate for improvements to this critical program. Can the Minister of
      Health and Social Services indicate how the Government of Nunavut will be
      pursuing this issue over the coming year? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Health and Social
      Services, Minister Peterson.
      Hon. Keith Peterson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again I thank Mr. Elliott for
      his question. As we all know and most Nunavummiut know, *Mr. Elliott is a
      strong advocate for nutrition and inexpensive food into all of our
      communities in Nunavut. In fact, we had a recent briefing by Mr. Elliott,
      who continues to lobby. *I encourage and support him to do that.
      Mr. Speaker, I think there is recognition on this side of the House that we
      do have to continue to do what we can to assist our citizens. At this time,
      *I can’t tell Mr. Elliott specifically what we’re doing*. I know in my own
      department, we do have officials working with the communities.
      *Through some funding from Nutrition North*, actually, we are educating
      Nunavummiut about nutritious foods, recipes, and this is working with the
      communities themselves. Through the health portfolio funding that the
      Government of Canada has provided, we have streamlined that process and
      communities have developed community wellness plans. *I believe most
      communities are using some of their funds to provide breakfast programs in
      the communities.*
      *We recognize that kids in particular, in the morning, they should have a
      good meal to help them get through the day at school.* Thank you, Mr.
      Speaker.
      An Hon. Member: Hear, hear! Speaker: Thank you, Minister Peterson. Your
      second supplementary, Mr. Elliott.
      Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess I’ll have to do some more
      investigative work to try and find out what the GN is doing.
      The official communiqué from the September 27, 2012 meeting of provincial
      and territorial ministers of health also stated that, and I quote,
      “Ministers discussed how the shift in the federal government’s approach on
      health issues is impacting Canadians. Ministers would like to discuss with
      Minister Aglukkaq decisions made by the federal government without
      consultation.”
      Mr. Speaker, our government was a signatory to this communiqué. Can our
      minister clarify which specific decisions made by the federal Minister of
      Health he is unhappy with? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Health and Social
      Services, Minister Peterson.
      Hon. Keith Peterson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank Mr. Elliott for the
      question. Mr. Speaker, I had a double-whammy last December. I attended an
      FPT finance ministers’ meeting in Victoria and that’s when Minister
      Flaherty presented the funding letters to finance ministers. I happened to
      also be the health minister. So I got the finance shock and now I got the
      health shock.
      The decision that we were unhappy with was that the Government of Canada
      didn’t seem to want to negotiate the health accord and basically told us,
      “Here is the funding envelope and you have to work within it.” They set
      some parameters with respect to growth on the Canada Health Transfer.
      So those are bigger issues, really, for provincial health ministers because
      in certain provinces, depending on the demographics, it could affect them
      more seriously, particularly if you have an aging population and they’re
      close to retirement. A lot of elders and seniors in our country do develop
      health issues and we have to look after them. That was a big concern for my
      provincial colleagues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      Speaker: Thank you, Minister Peterson. Your final supplementary, Mr.
      Elliott.
      Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As our minister is very much aware,
      the issue of federal support for essential health care infrastructure in
      Nunavut is a major concern for me and my constituents. Can the minister
      indicate if he raised this issue when he met with the federal Minister of
      Health on September 28 of this year? If not, why not? Thank you, Mr.
      Speaker.
      Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Health and Social
      Services, Minister Peterson.
      Hon. Keith Peterson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank Mr. Elliott again for
      the question. Mr. Speaker, I did not raise that issue with the federal
      Minister of Health. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      Speaker: Thank you, Minister Peterson.


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