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Nutrition North Canada


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Fact Sheet: The Nutrition North Canada Program


  • Nutrition North Canada (NNC) is a subsidy program that seeks to improve access to perishable healthy food in isolated northern communities. It was launched on April 1, 2011.
  • Nutrition North Canada is based on a market-driven model. The subsidy is transferred to retailers and suppliers that apply and are selected to register with the program.
  • Businesses registered with the program are accountable for passing on the subsidy to consumers. Northerners benefit from the subsidy when they buy subsidized items from retailers in their community. Individuals, commercial establishments such as local restaurants and social institutions such as day cares can also benefit from the subsidy when they order eligible items directly from registered southern suppliers.

Communities Eligible for the Program

  • To be eligible for the program a community must:
    • Lack year-round surface transportation (i.e. no permanent road, rail or marine access), and
    • Have used Food Mail, the department's previous northern transportation subsidy program.
  • Some communities are eligible for a full subsidy and some for a partial subsidy.
    • Communities eligible for a full subsidy used the Food Mail Program extensively. Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010, these communities received over 15,000 kg (annualized) of perishable food shipments or more than $4 per month per resident in transportation subsidies.
    • Communities eligible for a partial subsidy used the Food Mail Program moderately. Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010, these communities received between 100 and 14,999 kg (annualized) of perishable food shipments and less than $4 per month per resident in transportation subsidies.

Foods Eligible for a Subsidy

  • The program subsidizes a variety of perishable healthy foods. Perishable foods can be fresh, frozen, refrigerated, or have a shelf life of less than one year. They must be shipped by air.
    • A higher subsidy level applies to the most nutritious perishable foods. This includes fresh fruit, frozen vegetables, bread, meat, milk and eggs.
    • A lower subsidy level applies to other eligible foods such as flour, crackers, ice cream and combination foods (e.g., pizza, lasagna).
  • Non-perishable foods, including dried and canned foods, and non-food items like toilet paper and diapers do not require fast and expensive air transportation. It is cheaper for retailers and their customers to ship these products using winter roads, sealift or barge.
  • For more information on what the program subsidizes.

Subsidy Rates

  • The program has a fixed subsidy budget of $53.9M per year. Subsidy rates are set to allocate this amount fairly and equitably among eligible communities. As a result, subsidy rates differ from one community to another.
  • To set the subsidy rates, the program considers retailers' shipping costs, the volume of eligible goods they anticipate shipping by plane throughout the year as well as the number of eligible communities.
  • Subsidy rates are reviewed periodically and may be adjusted during the year.
  • For more information on current subsidy rates.

Subsidy Claims and Payments

  • Registered retailers and suppliers submit subsidy claims and receive subsidy payments under the program. Individuals do not register with the program.
  • A third-party claims processor handles the program's subsidy claims system. The claims processor reviews the information provided in each claim for accuracy and completeness.
  • Each claim must include:
    • A detailed report on the types and volumes of products for which the subsidy is being claimed
    • Documents that prove the products were shipped by plane
    • Information on where and to whom the products were shipped
    • An attestation that the claim is accurate and valid, and that the subsidy was passed on to consumers.
  • Retailers and suppliers submit claims each month. Here's how we calculate the amount of subsidy in a payment:

    subsidy level ($/kg) × volume of eligible item (kg) = $ subsidy payment

Advisory Board

  • The Advisory Board was established to give Northerners a direct voice in how the program works.
  • The Board's mandate is to represent the wide range of perspectives and interests of northern residents and communities. The Board holds public sessions in the North and can be reached by email or regular mail throughout the year.
  • Members are appointed by the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and serve as volunteers, in their own right and not as representatives of any particular organization or special interest.
  • For more information about the Board.

Country (or traditional) Foods

  • Based on the location from where they are shipped, country foods are eligible for one of two subsidies under the program.
    • Country foods shipped by plane from the South by a registered retailer or supplier are eligible for the higher level subsidy similar to other store-bought meat. The South is defined as anywhere in Canada other than a community eligible for the program subsidy.
    • Country foods shipped by plane from Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet or Pangnirtung, Nunavut, to other surrounding eligible communities are eligible for a customized subsidy rate. The customized subsidy rate applies to country foods processed in the federally-registered processing plants located in these three communities.

Nutrition Education Initiatives

  • Health Canada provides funding for culturally-appropriate retail and community-based nutrition education initiatives. These serve to increase knowledge and skills on the selection and preparation of healthy store-bought and traditional or country foods to promote healthy eating.
  • The funding is available to First Nations and Inuit communities that are eligible for a full subsidy under the program.



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