Frequently Asked Questions about the Food Categories and the Subsidy


Reports on the Subsidy

What foods does the category "Perishable fruit and vegetables including juice" include?

The category "Perishable fruit and vegetables including juice" includes foods like: apples, bananas and all other kinds of fresh and frozen fruit; dried unsweetened fruit such as apricots and raisins; dried unseasoned vegetables such as potato flakes; unsweetened juice in cartons, Tetrapaks and bottles; frozen unsweetened juice concentrate; lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes and all other kinds of fresh and frozen vegetables including frozen French fries.

What foods does the category "Milk and other perishable dairy products" include?

The category "Milk and other perishable dairy products" includes foods like: all types of milk (canned evaporated, fluid, powdered, UHT); buttermilk; cheese; cream; cream cheese; fortified soy beverages; frozen yogurt; ice cream and ice milk; processed cheese slices and spread; sherbet and sorbet; sour cream; and refrigerated yogurt and yogurt drinks.

What foods does the category "Meat and perishable alternatives" include?

The category "Meat and perishable alternatives" includes foods like: all types and cuts of fresh or frozen meat (e.g. beef, pork, veal); bacon; fresh or frozen chicken; eggs and egg substitutes; fresh or frozen fish and seafood; unsweetened nuts and seeds; peanut butter and other nut or seed-based spreads; tofu; fresh or frozen turkey; and "vegetarian" products.

What foods does the category "Bread, cereal and other perishable grain products" include?

The category "Bread, cereal and other perishable grain products" includes foods like: all types of flour; bagels; cook-type cereals; crackers; crisp bread; croissants; English muffins; hamburger and hot dog buns; fresh pasta; pilot biscuits; pita bread; pizza crusts and dough; ready-to-eat cereals; social tea and arrowroot cookies; tortillas; and white and whole wheat bread.

What foods does the category "Perishable combination foods" include?

The category "Perishable combination foods" includes foods like: frozen meals such as chicken and rice dinners and spaghetti with meat sauce; frozen pizza and pizza snacks; and ready-to-cook lasagna.

What is included in the category "Eligible until October 1, 2012"?

The category "Eligible until October 1, 2012" includes non-perishable foods like: canned fruit and vegetables including canned juice; canned and dried beans; canned fish and seafood; canned meat and poultry; canned and bottled sauces; canned and dried soups; coffee and tea; dry pasta and rice including mixes like macaroni and cheese dinner; and salt, sugar and spices. It also includes non-food items like: diapers; dishwashing and laundry detergent; feminine hygiene products; shampoo and soap; toilet paper and tissues; and toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Some reports show that communities on the Quebec North Shore didn't get the subsidy; why?

Communities on the Quebec North Shore are eligible for a subsidy only when they don't have marine service, which is usually during the months of January, February and March. This explains why the reports for the 1st and 2nd quarter, based on data for April to September, show that these communities didn't get the subsidy.

How is the subsidy data collected?

The data in these reports comes directly from the retailers and suppliers that are registered with Nutrition North Canada. They provide information on the types and amounts of eligible items shipped by plane to their stores or customers each month. This is a key requirement that all retailers and suppliers must fulfill to be registered with the program and receive the subsidy.

How often do you get subsidy data?

The program gets data from retailers and suppliers every month.

Do you review the subsidy data to make sure it is correct?

The data are reviewed by the independent claims processor that is responsible for the program's subsidy claim process. The review ensures that only eligible items are included in retailers' and suppliers' claims, that eligible products are recorded in the correct category and that the right subsidy level is used.

How often will you post reports on the subsidy on this website?

Reports are scheduled to be posted four times per year.

How will the subsidy data be used?

The program will use the data it receives from registered retailers and suppliers to monitor trends in subsidy payments for different categories of products, to estimate changes in the demand for eligible items in the North, and to make decisions about the program's subsidy rates and eligibility list.

Reports on the Cost of the Revised Northern Food Basket

Who provides the food price data?

Price data is provided by northern retailers that are registered with Nutrition North Canada. Each month, they provide retail prices for the 67 foods that make up the Revised Northern Food Basket.

How often do you get price data from retailers?

The program receives food price data from retailers every month.

How often will you post reports on the cost of the Revised Northern Food Basket on this website?

Reports are scheduled to be posted four times a year.

Do you review the price data to make sure it is correct?

Yes. The food price data is reviewed as part of the process to calculate the cost of the Revised Northern Food Basket. The review helps identify any missing or irregular prices that require follow-up with the retailer.

How do you calculate the cost of the Revised Northern Food Basket?

We calculate the cost of the basket using an average price for each of the 67 foods it contains. The average price is for a specific package size based on all brands available in the store. For example, in the case of fresh 2% milk, we determine the average price of a 2L carton (the most popular size) using the price of every brand of milk available in the store. We then use the average price to determine the cost of 4.76L of 2% milk, which is the total amount of milk in the RNFB. If there is more than one store that provided price information for a given community, an average of all stores is used to determine the cost of the RNFB for that community.

How can retailers provide the program with food prices when there are sometimes no prices on the shelves in local stores?

Most food price data that the program receives comes from retailers' computer systems. Retailers are required to display information about the NNC program and subsidy rates in their stores; however, the program does not have the authority to require that they display prices on store shelves. Shoppers should talk with the store manager if they have concerns or questions about this issue.

Your website shows that southern suppliers are also registered with NNC. Are suppliers' prices used to calculate the cost of the Revised Northern Food Basket?

No. The cost of the basket is calculated using prices provided by registered northern retailers only because it is intended to represent the cost of a healthy diet in isolated northern communities. Local retailers set their prices at levels that reflect the cost of operating a store in small and isolated markets, and these prices are what shoppers pay, no other fees are added. Southern suppliers set their food prices based on different operating costs. Also, their prices may not be the total that shoppers pay because fees associated with placing a direct (personal) order are shown as a lump-sum or single amount, which means they aren't factored into suppliers' prices.

Why is the cost of the Revised Northern Food Basket not available for some communities?

The cost of the basket is not available in some communities because:

  • There is only one store in the community and it is not registered with Nutrition North Canada but accesses the subsidy by purchasing products from registered suppliers in the South;
  • The price data is incomplete; and/or
  • The price data is not available for all periods.

There are two retailers in my community. Why is the cost of the Revised Northern Food Basket based only on prices from one store?

The cost of the basket in some communities with two stores is calculated using prices from only one store if:

  • One of the stores is not registered with Nutrition North Canada but accesses the subsidy by purchasing products from registered suppliers in the South;
  • The price data from one store is incomplete; and/or
  • The price data is not available from both stores for all periods.

Are all the foods that make up the Revised Northern Food Basket eligible for a subsidy under NNC?

As of October 1, 2012 perishable foods in the Revised Northern Food Basket such as meat, milk, cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables receive the highest NNC subsidy. Some non-perishable foods in the Revised Northern Food Basket such as, pilot biscuits and flour receive the lower NNC subsidy. The Revised Northern Food Basket also includes non-perishable items that are not eligible for a subsidy. It is cheaper for retailers and their customers to ship non-perishable foods, such as rice, dry pasta and canned vegetables by using winter roads, sealift or barge.

How will you use the information on the cost of the Revised Northern Food Basket?

The program will use the information on the cost of the basket to monitor trends in the cost of healthy eating in isolated northern communities. The information will also help inform decisions about the program's subsidy rates and eligibility list.

Reports on Retailer and Supplier Compliance

What is a compliance review?

A compliance review is a process that can help determine whether program recipients are conforming to the terms and conditions described in a specific funding agreement. In the case of Nutrition North Canada (NNC), the recipients are retailers and suppliers registered with the program. Each of them has signed a funding agreement with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The agreement pertains to the transfer of the NNC subsidy.

Who conducts the compliance reviews?

The compliance reviews are conducted by an independent third-party, not by federal government employees. In 2011–2012, the reviews were conducted by Samson & Associates.

How often are compliance reviews conducted?

Compliance reviews are conducted on a sample of registered retailers and suppliers every year.

Are compliance reviews of NNC retailers and suppliers available to the public?

Yes. Reports on the compliance reviews are available in the Reports section of the Nutrition North Canada website.

How do you choose which retailers and suppliers undergo a compliance review?

Each year, a sample of retailers and suppliers registered with Nutrition North Canada are chosen to undergo a compliance review based on risk, materiality and observations coming from the claims processor and other interested parties. Location is also a factor in this choice to reduce travel costs. When there is more than one registered retailer or supplier in a given location at least two will be chosen for that year's compliance reviews.

Which retailers and suppliers registered with Nutrition North Canada underwent a compliance review in 2011–2012?

Seven retailers and suppliers registered with Nutrition North Canada underwent a compliance review in 2011–2012:

  1. Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. (Iqaluit co-op)
  2. Arctic Ventures 2000 Ltd.
  3. Les Consultants de l'Arctique
  4. Marché Central du Nord
  5. North West Company (Iqaluit NorthMart)
  6. Pratt's Wholesale
  7. Valu Lots

Which retailers and suppliers registered with Nutrition North Canada will undergo a compliance review in 2012–2013?

The sample of registered retailers and suppliers selected to undergo a compliance review in 2012–2013 will include one of the three main retailers in the North as well as southern-based suppliers across Canada.

Do all compliance reviews have the same objective?

In any given year, the objective of a compliance review may vary from one registered retailer or supplier to another. Focused reviews were conducted in 2011-2012 for the North West Company's NorthMart store and Arctic Co-operatives Ltd.'s store in Iqaluit. This approach was taken because the results of readiness assessments performed before Nutrition North Canada was launched indicated that both retailers had put in place controls to ensure that program requirements, such as passing on the subsidy to consumers, would be met. The objective of the North West Company's and the Arctic Co-operatives Ltd.'s 2011–2012 compliance reviews was to verify that they were respecting the program's visibility requirements and rules regarding sales of items at subsidized prices to ineligible customers like mining companies.

What happens if a retailer or supplier is not in compliance?

A retailer or supplier is made aware during the review if any business practices or processes are noncompliant with their funding agreement. Depending on the situation, the retailer or supplier may develop a solution on its own or the reviewer may recommend specific changes to correct the situation and proof of their implementation would be requested. The few compliance issues identified during the 2011-2012 reviews were all promptly resolved by the recipients, either by revising their business practices or correcting consumers' invoices.

List of Foods Eligible for Subsidy

Your website states that Nutrition North Canada seeks to improve access to perishable, healthy food in isolated northern communities. Why were non-perishable foods and some non-food items eligible for a subsidy until October 1, 2012?

The list of products subsidized by NNC was expanded to include some non-perishable foods and non-food items between April 1, 2011 and October 1, 2012, to help ensure a smooth transition from the former Food Mail program to the new program, and to allow for two more sealift and winter road cycles. The non-perishable foods and non-food items that NNC subsidized until October 1, 2012, were those that were eligible under the Food Mail program.

What is subsidized in Old Crow, Yukon?

Old Crow, in the Yukon, is unlike any other NNC community in that it can only be accessed by air. The community's store and its residents cannot take advantage of lower cost methods of transportation like winter roads or the sealift to bring products into the community during the year. For this reason, in Old Crow, in addition to perishable, nutritious foods, NNC also subsidizes these non-perishable foods:

  • Canned vegetables and fruit
  • Tomato-based sauces
  • Unseasoned plain dry pasta
  • Unseasoned plain rice and other grains
  • Unseasoned plain popping corn (unpopped kernels)
  • Bannock and pancake mixes
  • Canned fish and seafood
  • Canned and dried legumes (e.g., beans, peas and lentils)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Baking powder and yeast for bread making
  • Spices, flavouring and extracts
  • Pizza mixes

and these non-food items:

  • Diapers, wipes and nursing pads
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Disposable absorbent underwear, toilet paper and facial tissues
  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, denture adhesive and denture cleaner
  • Soap, deodorant, shampoo and hand and body lotions
  • Laundry and dishwashing detergents.