News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

October 6, 2015

NEW SUBSIDY PROGRAM TO SUPPORT AFFORDABLE, HEALTHY FOODS IN NORTHERN COMMUNITIES: PREMIER SELINGER



CHURCHILL—As part of the Manitoba government’s commitment to improve and promote affordable, healthy foods for northern communities, it will invest in a new retail subsidy program called Affordable Food in Remote Manitoba (AFFIRM), Premier Greg Selinger announced here today. 

“It is common for some families in northern communities to pay extremely high prices for everyday food staples, such as $14.99 for a four-litre container of milk,” said Premier Selinger.  “Taking action to reduce such high costs and ensure better access to affordable healthy foods for northern Manitobans is a priority for our government.”

The premier noted the program will be an important step to address the lack of accessible affordable healthy foods in the north, which has been identified as a key issue in contributing to higher rates of chronic diseases and of food insecurity.

“Living in northern Manitoba comes with great benefits, but also with several challenges,” said Healthy Living and Seniors Minister Deanne Crothers.  “We are proud to have developed this program with the support of First Nations and community leaders to address some of these challenges and to now take a step forward in promoting better health and better quality of life for northern Manitobans.”

The minister explained the province engaged First Nation and community leadership in 10 communities that experience some of the highest food prices in the province to confirm interest in a subsidy program.  Local retailers were also engaged to explore feasibility.  As a result, AFFIRM was developed and will be piloted starting this fall, Minister Crothers noted.

The communities that will take part in this pilot program are Tadoule Lake, Brochet/Barren Lands, Shamattawa, Berens River, York Landing, Churchill, Pikwitonei, Ilford/War Lake, Thicket Portage and Pukatawagan.

“Churchill, as Manitoba’s most northerly community and one that experiences high food costs, is thrilled with this announcement,” said Mayor Michael Spence, Town of Churchill.  “It now enables families and residents of our community to make healthy food choices that contribute to healthy lifestyle as a direct result of this innovative program.”

Retailers in seven of the 10 communities will be eligible to receive a subsidy on fresh milk, vegetable and fruit purchases, which will translate in lower prices for the consumer.  For example, it is expected the subsidies will reduce the price of milk significantly for customers, saving them up to $6.40 when buying a four-litre container, Minister Crothers said.  Alternative methods of increasing access to milk, vegetables and fruits in Thicket Portage, Pikwitonei and Ilford/War Lake are being explored through the program since no retailers currently provide these healthy foods in those three communities, she added.

"At the historic treaty ceremonies that took place more than 100 years ago, our ancestors were told to give up the nomadic lifestyle along the tree line and adhere to stationary living.  Fruits and vegetables, livestock and plows were promised to our people,” said Chief Ernie Bussidor, Tadoule Lake Sayisi Dene.  “This AFFIRM initiative brings us a bit closer to that vision, providing healthy food at affordable prices to the needy in the remote corners of Manitoba.”

In addition to AFFIRM, the premier also noted the province supports local food self-sufficiency in northern Manitoba through the existing Northern Healthy Foods Initiative (NHFI).  NHFI supports local food production through community-led projects such as gardens, greenhouses, small poultry production, beekeeping and sharing traditional food skills.  Recently NHFI has also added a food-related social enterprises component to support sustainable local food systems to create employment.

For more information on AFFIRM, call 1-855-494-7352 (toll-free).

- 30 -