Canada: Policy Highlights and Opportunities
Over half of food produced in Canada, or 11 million metric tons, is lost and wasted annually. At the same time, 8.7% of Canadian households were food insecure in 2018. Canada has attempted to address food waste through tax incentives for food donations and liability protection legislation. However, studies still show that Canada’s food loss and waste is worth nearly $50 billion in direct costs and over $100 billion in indirect costs.
Atlas Research: Canada
Canada research was published in June 2020 and was made possible with the advice and support of our on-site partners, including Food Banks Canada.
Liability Protection for Food Donations
While liability protection has not been enacted at the federal level, each province in Canada as well as the Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory have passed laws to provide protection from civil liability to both companies and individuals who donate food.
Liability protection is not absolute; in most of the provinces, acting with reckless disregard or an intent to injure can still result in liability.
Government Grants and Incentives
Canada stands among countries as one of the few that offers governmental support. The recently introduced Food Policy for Canada includes a $26.3 million fund to provide resources for the most innovative food waste reduction proposals as well as a Local Food Infrastructure Fund–a five-year,
$50 million initiative offering two different funding streams for organizations seeking to strengthen food systems and increase access to safe and nutritious foods.
Policy Opportunities and Recommendations
Food Safety for Donations
To ensure that food is donated safely and does not pose risks to recipients, as well as provide clarity to encourage food donors, the federal government should amend Canada’s food safety legislation,
the Food and Drugs Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Act, to feature donation-specific sections to clarify guidance on food safety requirements.
The federal government should standardize and clarify date labels, requiring that manufacturers or retailers who choose to affix date labels on foods use only one of two prescribed labels that are based on whether the product is
labeled to indicate a decline in quality versus a safety risk, and should promote consumer education and awareness on the meaning of date labels, once the labels are standardized.
The federal government should eliminate the requirement that food businesses add the value of the inventory items to their total taxable income before deducting that value for the tax deduction;
issue federal guidance establishing that the fair market value for unsaleable items is the same as for saleable items; and create a federal tax credit for farmers who donate agricultural products.