There really is food poverty in Canada
NationalPost.com – FullComment/Today’s letters
May 19, 2012. (Paul Russell) Graham Riches
Re: UN Envoy Full Of Beans On Food File, John Ivison, May 17.
John Ivison is wrong to claim the right to food does not exist in Canada. It may not be constitutionally entrenched but in 1976 Canada ratified the UN International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) that includes the right to adequate food. By so doing Canada today, along with 160 fellow member states (but excluding the United States), is committed under international law to “respect, protect and fulfill” the right to adequate food and to ensure its progressive realization.
This is a matter of policy making but when our governments leave the feeding of the hungry poor to the indignity and frequent inefficiencies of charitable food banks, our federal leaders should not complain when the inadequacies of our food, nutrition and social policies are pointed out by the UN Special Rapporteur.
Regrettably food poverty in Canada since the early 1980s has become socially constructed as a matter for charity. Thirty years later the food bank model (imported from the United States) has failed. Food poverty is a political question requiring the priority attention of our governments.
Let’s hope the Special Rapporteur’s visit, and forthcoming report, might provoke a new conversation about food poverty in our affluent land.
Graham Riches, professor emeritus of Social Work, University of British Columbia, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
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