NDP pressures feds to fund school feeding program in April budget

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is urging Ottawa to address the affordability crisis and fund a national school lunch program to feed hungry children in the next budget.

Canadian food banks are struggling to meet record demand and more than a million children are living in poverty, Singh said Wednesday alongside Vancouver Island MPs Rachel Blaney and Gord Johns during a visit to LUSH Valley Food Action Society in Courtenay.

The cost of food is rising and Canada is the only G7 country without a national school feeding program, Singh said.

The Liberals have failed to deliver on their 2021 election promise to spend $1 billion over five years to ensure students receive at least one nutritious meal, Singh said, adding that the federal government was “dragging its feet” and “hitting the people”.

“We have to give people some relief. We have to relieve the pressure on parents and children who are not receiving nutritious meals because they simply cannot afford it,” Singh said.

Last year, the province NDP government budgeted $214 million over three years to start fighting hunger at school. However, the federal government also needs to step up so that all of Canada’s children, not just some, are guaranteed a meal, Singh said.

A nationwide school program is also critical to eliminating reluctance or shame associated with accessing food support, said Maurita Prato, executive director of LUSH.

“Universal school feeding programs are very important,” Prato said. “When every child has access to a program on a sliding scale, a feeding program is normalized and we see decreases in poverty without stigma.”

LUSH has a waiting list for its good food box program which, with funding from School District 71, delivers a grocery bag of fresh produce and eggs from farms in the Comox Valley to 300 families weekly, he said.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on the Liberals to deliver on a rare promise to create a national school meals program backed by funding from the April budget while touring a Vancouver Island food bank on Wednesday.

But society can’t keep up with demand as food costs rise, Prato said.

Further 75 percent of Canadians They want a national school feeding program, but federal Conservatives have blocked any efforts to establish one, Singh said.

In early December, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre pressured the federal government to repeal the carbon tax, saying it was driving up inflation and leaving Canadians hungry; The same week his party voted against Liberal MP Serge Cormier’s bill to develop a plan for a national school. meal program.

Backed by the Liberals and the NDP, Bill C-322 moved on to be studied by a House committee, but it does not detail the funding of the program by the Trudeau Liberals.

The federal budget will be published on April 16.

Singh said the NDP would lobby the feds to ensure a national school feeding program was funded, but did not say it would withdraw from the current support agreement with the minority Liberal government on the issue.

While it is not one of the key issues outlined in the agreement between the two parties, Singh said the NDP has often gotten more information on the issues outlined in the agreement, pointing to the recent pharmaceutical care plan.

“We’ve been very clear that what we negotiated was a floor, not a ceiling,” Singh said, adding that the NDP will push the Liberals to work with provinces and community providers to fill food gaps for students.

“We call on the federal government to be a true partner, to fulfill the dream of ensuring that no child goes to school hungry and leaves school hungry.”

Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

Leave a Comment