Ontario party leaders share plans to lower food costs, address food insecurity

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca greets guests at Frank’s Place after announcing his plan to remove HST from prepared foods under $20 in Vaughan, Ont., on April 30.Yader Guzman/The Canadian Press

Three of Ontario’s four major political parties are promising to take steps to lower the cost of food and tackle food insecurity, though they offer differing plans for how they would address the hot-button issue.

Statistics Canada reported earlier this month that overall food costs rose 8.8 per cent compared with a year ago, while Canadians paid 9.7 per cent more for food at stores in April, the largest increase since September 1981.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says his party would remove the 8 per cent provincial harmonized sales tax on all prepared food items under $20 and ensure that local Ontario-based food suppliers “have a real shot” at not only selling what they produce, but doing so in a “fair” way.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says her party would create a provincial food strategy that involves working with farmers to make locally-sourced food more readily available, while also supporting agriculture jobs and backing the Grocery Code of Conduct to improve transparency and fair dealings in the industry.

The Green Party of Ontario is proposing to provide start-up funding and land for community-owned healthy food markets, community gardens and rooftop growing spaces, as well as a nutritious school lunch program for the public school system.

The Greens also say they would invest in research and innovation that improves the sustainability of how the province grows, produces and distributes food.

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