Food mail revisited, again

I’ve noticed that any posts on this blog that contain the words “food mail” receive far more page views than any other, and that the search term “food mail” is the most common method people have used to land on this site in recent days.

This suggests a big hunger for information about Nutrition North Canada, the new program, announced May 21, that will replace food mail.

I could give you a couple of thousand words of exposition on this, but as part of my day job, I wrote an editorial this evening about it that you’ll likely see soon on Nunatsiaq Online, and I’m starting to get tired of the subject.

So you’re better off heading to the original source, the Government of Canada:

Government of Canada announces Nutrition North Canada to support healthy eating in the North

Go to that page and read the press release. Then scroll to the bottom, where you will find links to a backgrounder, a FAQ, lists of eligible and ineligible goods, and lists of eligible and ineligible communities.

Note also that all food retailers in eligible communities may use the new subsidy scheme. Individual consumers may use it too.

But before I let this subject go for good, it’s worth pointing out another aspect of it that no one appears to have yet raised in public: the impact of Nutrition North Canada on Nunavik, where, until now, retailers have enjoyed an extra-low food mail freight rate of only $1.00 a kilogram. Retailers in Nunavut have paid $2.50 per kilogram.

Nunavik’s food mail subsidy is so generous, retailers in that region have long used air freight to ship things that ought to have been shipped by sealift, especially dry goods like clothing and appliances. By Oct. 3 this year, this will end. Most non-food items will no longer be eligible for an air freight subsidy, which means the impact on Nunavik’s transportation system could be substantial. And under the new system, Nunavik’s nutiritious food freight subsidy rates will be calculated on a community-by-community basis. Will Nunavik’s new rates be higher or lower than $1.00 per kilogram?

On this issue, however, the federal government would be wise to take a hands-off approach and let the market sort it out. The best long-term outcome, of course, would be the introduction of airline competition in the Nunavik region, something all air travellers there would surely welcome.

Courtesy of the Government of Canada, here’s a list of food items, and “essential” non-food items that Ottawa will subsidize after April 1 next year. As you can see, they must still fine tune may details:

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