Created on 3/15/2021 4:31:38 PM
Written by Michael Graydon, CEO of Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
Published on December 10, 2020
With all eyes on vaccines and their potential to ease the COVID-19 crisis in 2021, we are entering the winter with an urgent need to remain focused on staying healthy through the next few months. Keeping up our vigilance against COVID-19 also means working to support the millions of Canadians who don’t have enough to eat, many of whom have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
Well before the pandemic, too many Canadians suffered from food insecurity, an estimated 4.4 million people, including more than 1.2 million children. Now, the pandemic has further stressed families. From March to June of this year, Canadian food banks saw an overall 26.5 percent increase in first time users. FHCP and our members have a long history of partnership with Food Banks Canada and other charitable organizations, and we are proud of ongoing company efforts to contribute to hunger relief in the communities they call home.
With infections again on the rise and provinces constantly evaluating restrictions, all Canadians may be concerned about the food supply and worried about shortages. It was a shock to everyone to see some empty shelves when the pandemic first hit in the spring.
The good news is that new restrictions are unlikely to cause the same supply challenges we saw earlier this year. Food, health, and consumer goods manufacturers have largely adapted to ongoing shifts in shopping trends . Challenges remain, however, particularly if we are to truly build a stronger supply chain for the long term. The lesson of COVID-19 for Canada’s food supply is that we cannot afford to ignore the long-term trends that have weakened our overall resilience.
As I’ve written extensively, food processing is a key driver of Canada’s economy but has long been given short-shrift. The country cannot afford to take this top employer for granted any longer. Canada’s anti-competitive business environment is driving away investment and opportunity, which will cost us jobs, growth, and perhaps most importantly weaken our manufacturing and supply chains.
Food is getting more and more expensive, and food insecurity is a daily threat for millions of Canadians. Charitable activities can help address the immediate need, but without further improvements, the country could drive away the critical food processing capacity that can help keep food available, affordable, and accessible for all Canadians.