Hon. Peter Harder: Welcome, minister. I’ll follow up on a question asked by my colleague Senator Loffreda with respect to global food shortages as a result of events in Ukraine.
It’s not just wheat, but also canola, barley, sunflower oil and a vast array of grains that are in turbulence in the global market. As you well know, food prices have shot up. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization suggests that we’re at the highest levels of food costs since the index was created, and it is rising by over 10% a month. That’s very disturbing not only for Canadian consumers, obviously, but I am particularly worried about the impact in the less developed world. You will know the dependency on foodstuffs and grains from Ukraine is very significant, particularly in some portions of Africa.
Could you report to us what work you are doing with other departments, and in particular your former department of International Development, to balance increased exports and to fill the gaps that are necessary for the well-being of the least fortunate?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, P.C., M.P., Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food: Thank you. Yes, this is particularly disturbing, and even more so for a former minister of International Development.
We are working closely with Minister Sajjan, the current Minister of International Development, supporting the World Food Programme, among other important partners.
We have recently provided $245 million for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, and even more to face the situation in the other countries who normally are being supplied by Ukraine. This is something that we pay attention to. We made sure that our Canadian producers were in contact with the World Food Programme, for example. I know that we are a big supplier to the World Food Programme as well.
Another thing that the Ukrainian agriculture minister has asked us in order to help them take some of their production out of the country to supply their normal consumers is to provide equipment to help them issue the export certificates for their production.
With the European Union and the United States, we are also looking at different ways, paths and alternative routes to get their grain and oil out of the country. We are working on that. In Canada, we are having a look at the equipment related to food export certificates.