It has been two weeks since the Nutrition North program came into full effect and Members of Parliament from various parties are weighing in on how it's working.
As of Oct. 1 the list of foods eligible for air freight subsidies shrunk. Items such as canned fruits and vegetables, dry pasta and rice are no longer covered.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae visited a grocery store in Kuujjuaq, Quebec last week. He said too many family staples are no longer covered by the subsidy.
"Well it’s pretty astronomical. I think people in the south just don’t get it if you don’t see it for yourself," Rae said.
"The government I think is trying to present it as sort of a nutrition program, but really it’s more about price and affordability and about the cost of living. Rather than the nanny state telling people, ‘well we’ll cover this food but we won’t cover that food.’"
New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash wants all stakeholders – government, retailers and consumers – to work together.
"The Prime Minister needs to call a summit so that everybody can sit down [and] discuss this and see how we can fix this problem once and for all," Saganash said.
The parliamentary secretary for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Conservative Greg Rickford, said the government wants to make sure people understand the program first. Then, Rickford says, the program is designed to be flexible and change with conditions over time.
Nutrition North representatives say that since the new program started the price of a northern food basket dropped by eight per cent. Rickford is not sure when the first annual report from the Nutrition North advisory board will be released.