Food prices: Provincial and territorial subsidies on foods

Learn how provincial and territorial governments can increase healthy eating by providing subsidies on foods

Inside this healthy eating policy pack

Subsidies on foods


Food prices


Subsidies on foods 1,2,3,4

  • Removal of agricultural and other subsidies that damage public health 3
  • Increasing import tariffs on specified “unhealthy” food, lowering import tariffs on specified “healthy” food 2

Degree of policy adoption*

Provinces and territories: LOW

Current action(s) in Canada

Five provinces and territories currently have policies offering tax credits to farmers/operators (BC, ON, QC, NS, NU).

Opportunities for action

Opportunities exist at the provincial/territorial level to enhance/ implement agricultural subsidy (e.g., for water, seeds, transport of healthy foods, or minimum prices to farmers) programs to encourage increased healthy food production and/or business viability.1

Farmers’ markets, although generally addressed through municipal policy, can also be supported through provincial regulation of permits and responsibilities for farmers’ markets, as seen in Alberta. Although not a subsidy specifically, such provincial/territorial action could be a lever for reducing fees as a way of supporting access to healthy foods.

MB’s Organic Agricultural Products Act and BC’s Organic Agricultural Products Certification Regulation policies allow for and regulate organic certification at the provincial level and could be used to facilitate the availability of healthier food products.

* Levels of adoption:  LOW = very few jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action; MEDIUM = some, but not all jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action; HIGH = most jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action.


1 Vanderlee L, Goorang S, Karbasy K, Schermel A, L’Abbe M. Creating healthier food environments in Canada: Current policies and priority actions – Summary report. Toronto; University of Toronto, 2017.

2 World Cancer Research Fund International. NOURISHING policy framework. Retrieved from:

3 World Cancer Research Fund International. (2009). Policy recommendations. Retrieved from:

4 World Health Organization (2013). Global action plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases: