In November 2020, Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Agriculture and Food Ministers announced the creation of an FPT Working Group to identify potential measures to safeguard balance in the food system’s commercial relationships, while also ensuring Canadians’ continued access to a safe, reliable food supply at affordable prices. The Ministers encouraged a collaborative approach to examining these measures and called on industry to
actively contribute to this process.
Inspired by the FTP Agriculture Ministers’ request for industry collaboration and leadership, this Proposal sets out a transparent, consultative, and collaborative process for food industry leaders to develop a Canadian Food Industry Code of Practice.
A strong food system is essential to Canadians. Our food system is the foundation of Canada’s food sovereignty. It supports Canada’s national, provincial, territorial, and regional economies and its international trade goals. It contributes to local production and food security, and it employs more workers than any other industry in the country.
To ensure a robust food system, many stakeholders across the supply chain support the need for a code of practice for Canada. To reflect the unique and distinct nature of our food system as compared to that of other countries, we believe that any Code of Practice must be developed in Canada for Canada.
The Proposal included herein does not prescribe the contents of a Code of Practice. Instead, it describes the framework for a collaborative and inclusive process through which industry stakeholders will design a Code of Practice and Oversight Framework that meets the unique needs of Canada’s food system.
As other proposals have highlighted, we believe the purpose of a Canadian Food Industry Code of Practice is to promote and support good faith dealings and responsible commercial conduct along the food supply chain by:
- Ensuring transparency and contractual certainty in all commercial transactions.
- Ensuring best practice reciprocity throughout the supply chain.
- Promoting fair and ethical dealings in contract negotiations, particularly where there is a significant disparity in negotiating power between the parties.
- Ensuring equitable distribution of food supply.
- Providing supports for small and mid-sized parties to commercial transactions.
- Providing an effective, fair, and applicable dispute resolution process.
To achieve these goals, the proposal recommends that industry work together to design, lead and participate in a consultative process to develop the Code of Practice and to design an Oversight Framework to support adherence to its provisions. A consultative approach will help ensure stakeholders have a forum to express their views and to build support through the development process. In working together, stakeholders will identify, explore, and resolve issues jointly – ensuring a better end-product and helping to build understanding, collaboration, and compromise along the way.