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Food security, affordability concern voters ahead of election: survey

Last Updated Sep 17, 2019 at 11:45 am PST

FILE - Various vegetables are on display at the Jean Talon Market, on January 11, 2016 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The food guide has been tweaked under the Liberals, and the Conservatives say they will make more changes

The Greens come out on top in the survey when it comes to plastics and the environment

The NDP comes out on top in terms of their priorities on food affordability

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The increasing price of paying for groceries is on the mind of many voters as Canadians inch closer to the Oct. 21 federal election.

A new survey from Dalhousie University in Halifax finds when it comes to access to food, what it costs and the well-being of Canada’s agriculture, Professor Sylvain Charlebois says Canadians are a little worried.

“Food affordability by far. Other issues that are affecting Canadians is the use of plastics in food, food waste and also the Canadian Food Guide, which needs to be revised from time to time – came up in our survey as well.”

He explains people living in British Columbia are hoping for the food guide to be revised. It has been tweaked under the Trudeau government and if elected, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he’ll review what the Liberals have done.

“I think it points to the fact that people in B.C. are expecting the food guide or food policies to be in sync with science and the realities of life, that’s all. So, I think it’s quite healthy to revise the food guide regularly instead of waiting 12 years.”

He adds housing, paying off debt and just living in this country have become increasingly expensive and that’s likely another reason food has become a topic for voters.

“Food security is about making sure we have enough food, whether through trade or by producing enough domestically. Food affordability is, from a consumer perspective, making sure we actually produce and import food at an affordable price. That’s the difference between the two. You can import all the stuff you want, you can produce what you want. Let’s say, for example, if we all go organic, if the price point doubles, it doesn’t really achieve your food affordability goals.”

When it comes to political parties that may take action on agri-food issues in general, Charlebois says the Conservatives come out on top in the survey.

“[They’re] considered the best choice right now in all regions of the country, but when it comes to food affordability, the NDP actually has the upper hand. When it comes to food waste and the use of plastics, the Green Party is seen as the best choice by Canadians.”

Charlebois isn’t sure if this is the biggest issue for voters casting a ballot next month.

“It’s always hard to look at one issue in isolation and see how it can affect the electorate. What’s clear is we’re not sure if food will get the proper attention during a campaign. It rarely does. We rarely talk about agriculture during a political campaign and Canadians have actually told us they don’t expect that to change this time around,” he says. “Apparently, 31 per cent of Canadians think food and agriculture will actually get the proper attention. Even though there is some enthusiasm around food policy, there is some cynicism around political institutions.”

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With files from Mike Lloyd

Federal Election 2019 Report EN