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Four Manitoba Communities newly eligible for Nutrition North subsidies might not see price reduction

The expanded Nutrition North Canada subsidy program launched at participating stores Oct. 1, meaning that the program will be extended or have increased funding in 18 Northern stores from Alberta to Ontario, including four in Northern Manitoba.

The expanded Nutrition North Canada subsidy program launched at participating stores Oct. 1, meaning that the program will be extended or have increased funding in 18 Northern stores from Alberta to Ontario, including four in Northern Manitoba.

The Northern Manitoba communities of Tadoule Lake, Brochet, Shamattawa and Berens River are among those with new or increased Nutrition North Canada funding. However, a Sept. 30 North West Company news release notes that, because these communities were previously part of the provincially funded AFFIRM (Affordable Food in Remote Manitoba) program, which has been replaced in those communities by the Nutrition North Canada effective Oct. 1, previously subsidized products such as milk, fortified soy beverages and fresh fruits and vegetables might not see a price reduction in those communities and could actually see the price of some of those items increase due to differences between the NNC and AFFIRM program subsidy levels.

Items with NNC subsidies are marked on the shelves and subsidy amounts will be shown on receipts so customers can see how much the subsidy is.

“North West is a strong supporter of healthy living programs that promote nutritional wellness for our customers.,” said North West Company vice-president of sales and operations Christine Reimer. “Since inception in 2011, NNC has helped reduce North West’s nutritious food prices by an average of 9.83 per cent on Level 1 items tracked (as of May 2016). These customer savings have resulted in a 26 per cent increase in consumption of healthy food. We are very pleased with this positive outcome and anticipate continuing to see the positive impact NNC has on healthy food consumption.”

Tadoule Lake, Brochet, York Landing, Granville Lake and Shamattawa in Northern Manitoba are among 37 communities that the federal government made eligible for full NNC subsidies as of this month when they changed the eligibility criteria back in July. Previously eligible Manitoba communities Lac Brochet, Red Sucker Lake, God’s River, Oxford House, God’s Lake Narrows, Waasagomach, Island Lake (Garden Hill), St. Theresa Point, Negginan (Poplar River), Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids will continue to be eligible for the subsidies, which aim to reduce the high cost of groceries for people in isolated northern communities.

The budget for the food subsidy program was also increased by $64.5 million over the next five years and $13.8 million each year beginning in 2021.

Nutrition North Canada served 103 communities in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, northern Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as of June 2014. Some NNC communities receive full subsidies of as much as $16 per kilogram, while others receive partial subsidies of as little as five cents per kilogram.