Daley, A., Phipps, S., Pandey, S., & Watson, B. (Accepted). From the Food Mail Program to Nutrition North Canada: The Impact on Food Insecurity among Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Families with Children. Canadian Journal of Economics.
Food insecurity is prevalent in Northern Canada, especially among Indigenous Peoples. As one approach to address this issue, the federal government subsidizes the shipping of necessities to remote Northern communities, initially through the Food Mail Program and then Nutrition North Canada as of April 2011. We use the Canadian Community Health Survey (2007 to 2016) and a difference-in-differences model to estimate the impact of the policy change on food insecurity, testing for heterogeneity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous families. Our results, which withstand several robustness checks, indicate that the policy change increased the likelihood of overall food insecurity by 8.9 percentage points (77.3% relative to the sample mean) and moderate/severe food insecurity by 7.1 percentage points (89.3% relative to the sample mean). It also increased severe food insecurity among Indigenous families by 7.3 percentage points (more than three times the sample mean). There was, however, variation across regions and subsamples of families with children. Specifically, the policy change was particularly harmful to Indigenous families in the territories and Inuit Nunangat. The detrimental impact was also heightened in the presence of children, especially when considering severe food insecurity among Indigenous families.