Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur for food, has caused a stir by criticizing food security in Canada. Speaking Wednesday, De Schutter called for a national program that will address many Canadians’ lack of access to proper food.
“We have a large number of Canadians who are unacceptably too poor to feed themselves decently,” he was quoted as saying by the CBC. “We have in this country more than 800,000 households who are considered food insecure… This situation is of great concern to me.”
The UN official also pointed out that food bank visits in the country are on the rise, and said this is a symptom of failing social safety nets.
The Conservative government was quick to denounce De Schutter as a “patronizing academic” who would be better off focusing on other UN countries with more inequality than Canada. Canada is the first developed country De Schutter has visited as UN special rapporteur.
“There are, what, 193 members of the UN? I think most Canadians would think that spending 11 days in Canada on this issue – his time would be better spent elsewhere,” said Foreign Minister John Baird, quoted by Al Jazeera.