Healthy eating policies

Food provision 

  • Definition: Healthy food service policies implemented in government-funded and private settings to encourage healthy food choices. 

H2: Provincial/Territorial healthy eating policy analysis   

  • The degree of policy adoption is HIGH – all provinces and territories have at least one policy regarding healthy eating and food provision.  
  • Most provinces and territories have adopted a similar approach to food provision policies, and most policies cite Canada’s Food Guide as a benchmark for healthy food options.  
  • There are no existing provincial/territorial food provision policies that directly mention healthy eating in relation to cancer prevention.  
  • The most consistent food provision policies govern schools and childcare centres. Some examples include:   
  • 11 provinces/territories have policies directing healthy food choices in childcare centres with most following Canada’s Food Guide (NL, NB, QC, MB, SK, AB, NT, YT, BC, NU, NS) This number has increased  since CPAC’s original Healthy Eating Policy Pack released in 2018.  
  • Mandatory school food provision policies exist in seven provinces/territories, an increase since CPAC’s 2018 healthy eating policy pack (BC, ON, NB, NS, PE, YT, QC). Two provinces (MB, SK) have mandatory district-level guidelines. Recommended guidelines exist in the other three provinces (AB, NL, QC). No policies exist in NU and NT, although development of guidelines is underway.  
  • Yukon’s School Sale of Home Prepared Foods to the Public policy allows culturally relevant foods to be sold in schools.  
  • Manitoba’s Community Schools Act mandates a healthy school environment including nutrition.  
  • Manitoba and Ontario have policies prohibiting or limiting trans fats in foods in schools.  
  • Food provision policies that govern residential care facilities – including personal care homes, foster homes, youth centres and addiction centres, exist in several provinces (MB, ON, NS, AB, SK, QC). 
  • Ontario requires service agencies to follow Canada’s Food Guide recommendations when implementing procedures and policies that affect persons with disabilities.  
  • British Columbia requires Healthier Choices in Vending Machines in Public Buildings. 
  • New Brunswick’s Local Food and Beverages Strategy encourages local procurement and “improved health of NB through increased availability of fresh local food”  
  • Ontario’s Local Food Act is designed to increase public awareness of the local food economy and in turn increase sales for local food producers. This encourages local food production, and public and private collaboration.  
  • Quebec’s Food Policy supports growers and local farm-to-table production. 

H2: Municipal healthy eating policy analysis  

  • The degree of policy adoption is HIGH – many municipal policies encourage healthy eating through food provision. These policies range from providing healthy food options in municipally run buildings, to ensuring residents have access to locally grown produce.   
  • No municipal policies govern food provision in relation to cancer prevention, however consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for living a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk of developing cancer.   
  • Several municipalities require public institutions to provide nutritional food and beverage options.   
  • Hamilton’s Bylaw to License and Regulate Various Businesses requires  residential care facility tenants are served  sufficient food of good quality and adequate nutritional and caloric value.   
  • The Hamilton Healthy Food and Beverage Policy requires 75% healthy food choices in city workplaces and prohibits trans fats from workplace canteens.  
  • St John’s’ Nutrition Policy requires all foods purchased by the City, or served to employees, follows Canada’s Food Guide. This policy also requires that 75% of vending machine snacks are healthy.  
  • New Westminster, British Columbia’s Healthy Food Service Policy requires at least 50% of foods served in city settings are healthy. 
  • Some local governments have enacted policies restricting unhealthy food in recreation and sports facilities, including food that is available in vending machines.   
  • Edmonton’s Operational Guidelines require a minimum of 50% healthy food choices in recreational facility vending machines.  

 H2: Opportunities for action 

  • The widespread adoption of consistent food provision across all provinces/territories is positive. These settings cater to some of the most vulnerable demographics and providing them with healthy food options is important for overall health.   
  • Future policies that place a greater emphasis on individual or cultural preferences and practices rather than adopting a blanket approach to healthy eating would be advantageous.