Nutrition North Canada (NNC) subsidizes perishable nutritious food, as well as commercially-produced country food for eligible communities. Check to see if your community is eligible.
Customers in eligible communities can purchase this food from registered Northern retailers or order it from registered Southern suppliers.
Northern retailers can order this food from registered Southern suppliers or country food processors/distributors and sell it in their stores.
Commercial establishments such as local restaurants and social institutions such as daycares, can order this food from registered Southern suppliers.
In all cases the subsidies are passed on from the retailers and suppliers to the consumers. Only registered retailers/suppliers/processors/distributors can claim the subsidy. See how the subsidy works for more information.
A higher subsidy level is provided for the most nutritious perishable food items such as milk, eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables and fruit. Perishable food can be fresh, frozen, refrigerated or have a shelf life of less than one year. It must be shipped by air.
Country or traditional food
Country or traditional food such as Arctic char, muskox, caribou, etc. is also subsidized.
It must either be:
- shipped by plane from registered Country food processors/distributors and processed in government regulated and/or approved-for-export commercial plants or
- shipped by plane from the South by a registered Northern retailer or Southern supplier and subsidized at the same level as other store-bought meat (level 1 subsidy) in the eligible food list
Find the eligible food list. The list is reviewed periodically, always taking into account feedback from Northerners.
Old Crow, in the Yukon, does not usually have access to any surface transportation at any time. As a result, its retailers and residents cannot take advantage of lower cost methods of transportation such as sealifts, barges, ferries and winter roads. For this reason, NNC also subsidizes a number of non-perishable food items and non-food items in this community.
Find the eligible food and non-food items list for Old Crow.
Revised Northern Food Basket
The Revised Northern Food Basket (RNFB) measures the cost of a nutritious diet for a family of four for one week using 67 standard food items. It is used by NNC to monitor the cost of healthy eating in isolated northern communities.
The food in the basket weighs approximately 52 kilograms. It was chosen based on food consumption surveys of Inuit and First Nations conducted by INAC and other researchers. Some food items were replaced with more nutritious alternatives (for example, canola oil replaces corn oil) and the quantity of some food items was adjusted, where necessary, to meet the recommendations in Canada's Food Guide.
Each month registered Northern retailers provide retail prices for the food in the RNFB. INAC reviews the food prices and calculates the cost of the RFNB using average community food prices. INAC follows up with individual retailers if there are any missing or irregular prices. This information is also used to make decisions about subsidy rates and eligible communities.
Not all of the food in the RNFB is eligible for a subsidy because it is cheaper for retailers and customers to ship non-perishable food such as rice and dry pasta by winter roads, sealift or barge. Find out more in the eligible food section.
What is in the RNFB?
|Category||Food||Quantity||Unit of measure|
|Dairy products||2% milk, fresh or UHT||4.76||L|
|Processed cheese slices||0.385||kg|
|Evaporated 2% milk||1.58||L|
|Skim milk powder||0.09||kg|
|Meat and alternatives||Large eggs||8||eggs|
|Pork chops, loin centre-cut||1.21||kg|
|Ground beef, lean||1.34||kg|
|Frozen fish sticks||0.135||kg|
|Canned pink salmon||0.27||kg|
|Canned sardines in soya oil||0.27||kg|
|Canned pork-based luncheon meat||0.05||kg|
|Canned corned beef||0.04||kg|
|Canned beans with pork||0.29||L|
|Canned beef stew||0.18||kg|
|Canned spaghetti sauce with meat||0.155||L|
|Grain products||Bread, enriched white||0.66||kg|
|Bread, 100% whole wheat||0.66||kg|
|Flour, all purpose||1.92||kg|
|Macaroni or spaghetti||0.385||kg|
|Rice, long-grain parboiled white||0.33||kg|
|Macaroni and cheese dinner||0.55||kg|
|Fruit and vegetables||Oranges||1.23||kg|
|Apple juice, frozen concentrate||0.033||L|
|Orange juice, frozen concentrate||0.282||L|
|Apple juice, TetraPak||0.88||L|
|Orange juice, TetraPak||0.375||L|
|Canned whole tomatoes||0.215||L|
|Canned tomato sauce||0.3||L|
|Canned fruit cocktail in juice||0.855||L|
|Canned peaches in juice||0.285||L|
|Canned pineapple in juice||0.285||L|
|Frozen French fries||0.48||kg|
|Instant potato flakes||0.22||kg|
|Frozen mixed vegetables||1.74||kg|
|Canned green peas||0.9||L|
|Canned kernel corn||1.09||L|
|Canned green beans||0.315||L|
|Canned mixed vegetables||0.545||L|
|Oils, fats and sugar||Margarine, non-hydrogenated||0.715||kg|
Average community food prices
The cost of the basket is calculated using an average price for each of the 67 food items 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, the average price of a 2L carton (the most popular size) is determined using the price of every brand of milk available in the store. This is used to calculate the cost of 4.76L of 2% milk, the total amount in the RFNB.
If more than one store provided price information for a particular community, an average of all stores is used to determine the RNFB cost for that community.
In some communities, the RFNB cost is not available because there is only one store in the community and it is not a registered NNC Northern retailer, or the price data is not complete, or not available for all periods.
Sometimes, the RFNB in communities with two stores is calculated using prices from only one store because one of the stores is not registered with NNC but accesses the subsidy by purchasing products from registered Southern suppliers, or the price data from one store is not complete, or not available from both stores for all periods.
Find out more in the annual reports on the cost of the RFNB published by INAC as part of its commitment to transparency.
- Perishable fruit and vegetables including juice
- includes 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.
- Milk and other perishable dairy products
- includes 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.
- Meat and perishable alternatives
- includes 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.
- Bread, cereal and other perishable grain products
- includes 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.
- Perishable combination food
- includes frozen meals such as chicken and rice dinners and spaghetti with meat sauce; frozen pizza and pizza snacks; and ready-to-cook lasagna.
As part of Nutrition North Canada, Health Canada supports culturally appropriate retail and nutrition education activities in isolated northern communities. These activities focus on increasing knowledge of healthy eating; and developing skills in selecting and preparing healthy store-bought and traditional or country food. They include nutrition workshops, cooking classes for all ages, in-store sampling of healthy food, school-based nutrition programs and training of community workers. These programs are available to First Nations and Inuit communities that are eligible for a full subsidy under the program. Find out more about the nutrition education activities through this video.