Nutrition North Canada: Discussion guide

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Program background

Nutrition North Canada (NNC) is a federal government program to support Northerners and Indigenous people living in isolated communities make healthy food choices. Its goal is to make nutritious foods more accessible and more affordable for Northerners and Indigenous people who do not have year-round land or water transportation links to supply centres.

The program serves approximately 90,000 people living in 103 isolated communities in the three territories and the northern parts of five provinces. The NNC program's subsidy budget is $68.5 million (2015-2016) with a 5% annual increase to allow for demand and population growth in the North.  Also, Health Canada receives $2.9 million from the NNC program's budget to support nutrition education activities in eligible communities.

On July 18, 2016, the Government of Canada announced that the NNC program will be expanded to an additional 37 isolated northern communities, beginning on October 1, 2016. This expansion is the result of updates to the community eligibility criteria, and is part of the Budget 2016 commitment to provide an additional $64.5 million to the NNC program over five years, beginning in 2016-17 and $13.8 million per year ongoing starting in 2021.

Why we want to hear from you

We want to hear from Northerners, Indigenous people, community groups, provincial/territorial and municipal government members, registered retailers and suppliers, and other interested parties on how to improve the NNC program.

Areas for discussion

1. Program sustainability and cost effectiveness

Because the NNC program has a fixed budget, the engagement will be centered around the best use of the current funds including: Which foods should be eligible for the subsidy? What are creative ideas for how country foods and non-food items for traditional harvest could be covered under the program? Do personal orders provide additional choice for consumers?

2. Expanding program capacity/improving program efficiency

A number of parallel or complementary food subsidy programs already exist for remote northern communities. Though this topic will not be covered in the town hall meetings, Indigenous and other community organizations and local, regional, provincial and territorial governments will be asked: Are there opportunities for partnerships, cost sharing arrangements, improving efficiencies and other means to expand the program capacity of NNC without increasing its overall costs?

3. Fairness and consistency

It's important that the NNC program is fair, consistent and responsive. Is the program meeting the needs of northern and Indigenous people in isolated communities? Are any groups in the community not being served by the program?

4. Transparency

On April 1, 2016, printing NNC savings on grocery receipts was made mandatory. What are your ideas on how the program's transparency can be further improved?

5. Visibility: Communications/outreach and engagement

In order for Northerners and Indigenous people to fully benefit from the NNC program, they must be aware of it as well as understand how it operates. What are some of the ways that you would like to be kept aware of the program?  How can we develop good communications between NNC managers and residents, retailers, and suppliers?

6. Innovation

Good ideas can come from any source. Based on your knowledge and experience, what are additional ideas for improving the program?


Any involvement in the engagement will be voluntary. 

A summary of what is said or written to us during the engagement will be published online.  Please note we will not use your name or identify you. We are taking notes during interviews and public engagements.

Please note that some of the information you share with us may have to be shared under federal laws for Access to Information and Privacy.

How to participate

You can participate in this engagement process in one or more ways:

  1. Attend one of the public town hall meetings being held across Canada's isolated communities. For an updated schedule, please visit When and where on the NNC Engagement 2016 webpage.
  2. Send a letter to: Nutrition North Canada Engagement 2016, 15 Eddy Street, 14th Floor, Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H4.
  3. Send an email to
  4. Send a tweet using the hashtag #NNCMySay.
  5. Fill out an online or paper based questionnaire (available this fall).

Reporting on what we've heard

Summaries of each town hall meeting will be posted online under What we heard.

Once all of the engagement activities are complete, Interis Consulting will be publishing a summary of what was heard during the entire engagement process. This report will be posted online.

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