Ontario Passes Local Food Act

Originally published by Sustain Ontario

by  on November 6, 2013

In a major victory and step forward for Ontario’s local food movement, the Local Food Act – now officially named Bill 36: An Act to enact the Local Food Act, 2013 and to amend the Taxation Act, 2007 to provide a tax credit to farmers for donating certain agricultural products that they have produced – has officially passed a final vote in the provincial legislature. The Act passed by a unanimous vote and is the first of its kind in Canada.

Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food Kathleen Wynne greeted the news with the following quote:

“The Local Food Act will benefit people by making the connection between buying local and helping grow an important Ontario industry. If we increase demand to homegrown food, we will create jobs and boost the agri-food sector’s contributions to our economy. It’s an important and historic step forward and I thank everyone who helped support this legislation.”

The passage of the Act comes after a series of committee hearings throughout October where amendments to the legislation were proposed and subsequently voted upon by the Standing Committee on Social Policy.

A release from Ernie Hardeman, Opposition Agricultural Critic and the Member for Oxford, highlighted  key amendments passed by the Committee, namely:

  • the creation of a tax credit for farmers who donate to Ontario food banks and community food programs
  • the preservation of Ontario Agricultural Week, which was initially to be replaced by Local Food Week; the latter will now begin the first Monday in June and the former will run during October

Other amendments included:

  • including forest and freshwater food in the bill’s definition of local food
  • a requirement that the Minister shall establish goals or targets to aspire to in the areas of improving food literacy in respect of local food, encouraging increased use of local food by public sector organizations, and increasing access to local food
  • requiring that the Minister prepare an annual report (previously required every three years) summarizing the government’s activities in respect of local food and describing goals or targets established under the Act

The full Act, including each amendment, can be read in full here.

As previously reported by Sustain Ontario, student nutrition programs and food literacy as well as procurement targets were heavily discussed during the hearings leading up to these amendments. Though a provision remains in the Act requiring the Minister to establish goals in the area of improving food literacy, an amendment proposing food education to be added to the curriculum of every grade level was not passed.

There was also no amendment to add specific procurement targets to the Act. Procurement targets were a major point of debate during the hearings. Sustain Ontario has highlighted how the province of Nova Scotia can serve as a model for setting specific targets concerning procurement by public institutions (follow link in paragraph above).

To learn more about the Local Food Act and the important purpose it will serve in creating a sustainable, ecological, equitable, and prosperous food system in Ontario,  please visit our page on developing a Local Food Act.

Below are a selection of submissions made to the Committee on Social Policy by Sustain members and allies regarding the Local Food Act:

Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance

Canadian Environmental Law Association

Ontario Collaborative Group on Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

Green Thumbs Growing Kids

For Sustain Ontario’s submission to Committee on Social Policy. Click here for full PDF.

See Original Article here

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