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Ottawa, CANADA – Nutrition International welcomes the Government of Canada’s ambitious domestic plan to build back better from COVID-19 and encourages the government to be equally bold in its global recovery efforts to ensure a fair and equitable recovery for all Canadians, and people around the world.

“Now is not the time to be timid. Now is the time to be brave,” said Joel Spicer, President and CEO, Nutrition International. “There has never been a better time to be ambitious in our solidarity, as we stand with people around the world in this time of greatest need. With this budget, Canada is taking bold and pragmatic action here at home to fight COVID-19 and to put women, children, low-income families, and Indigenous people at the centre of its efforts to recover from COVID-19. We must take a similarly bold approach to defeating the pandemic globally because Canada’s full recovery is impossible without a comprehensive global response.  And because it is the right thing to do.”

Budget 2021 secures important investments in domestic nutrition programs like Nutrition North, which recognize the critical link between good nutrition and health, immunity, and resilience to disease, and seek to address rising rates of food insecurity in Canada’s most vulnerable communities – which have been made worse by COVID-19. The budget also recognizes the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on women’s economic equality and makes historic domestic investments in childcare and early learning – laying the foundation for improved health, better nutrition, and economic and social success for Canadian families.

Globally, Canada has pledged to provide immediate support through investments of $165 million for growing humanitarian needs around the world, and $375 million to bolster health and COVID-19 responses in developing countries – but this is inadequate both in its level of ambition and amount of funding in relation to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. While these commitments will make a positive contribution to addressing urgent needs, including malnutrition, they will limit Canada’s ability to make the strategic, longer-term development investments necessary to reverse the devastation caused by COVID-19, and accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Now is not the time to be timid. Now is the time to be brave.”

Significant advances have been made in many countries over the last two decades, but, as Budget 2021 acknowledged, this progress has not reached everyone equally. Women and girls are still impacted by malnutrition at twice the rate of men and boys, and more than one billion women and girls were malnourished before the pandemic. Lockdown-related shutdowns and supply chain disruptions have only worsened the situation by limiting access to nutritious food and health services.

Malnutrition negatively impacts health, immunity, growth, and development, and prevents individuals from achieving their full potential. Lack of action on nutrition now will compromise recovery from the pandemic everywhere and threaten the survival and well-being of millions of people globally as well as underpower investments in education, infectious diseases, and efforts on gender equality.

Canada has recognized 2021 as the Nutrition Year of Action, which will see major milestone events ahead of the Nutrition for Growth Summit in December. Canada is a global leader in nutrition and now is the time to lean-in and rally others to follow.

Nutrition International encourages the Government of Canada to build on Budget 2021’s commitments and take additional action over the coming year to drive progress towards a more equitable global recovery – ensuring a better future for everyone everywhere.