By Joan Janzen

While filling out a multiple choice survey by the federal government, asking what our nation’s priorities should be for the next budget, I took advantage of the last option “other”. The ‘other’ great need in Canada is the elimination of waste.

‘Waste not, want not’, is an old proverb that implies if you use something wisely, it will be less likely that you find yourself in need. Jim and Jacintha Collins from southern Ontario, who were interviewed by Faytene Grasseschi, are proving this to be true.

At the current date, their charitable organization – Harvest Hands, has gathered $10 million worth of food which they deliver to other distribution organizations. It’s surplus, seconds, or product approaching its best before date, all of which is completely free.

Jim explained that 50 percent of food produced in Canada is wasted, while one in six Canadians are experiencing some measure of food insecurity every day. That’s equal to the population of all the prairie provinces combined. And yet Canada, with a population of 36 million, is able to produce enough food to feed 52 million people.

When Jim picked up 19 pellets of food, he stopped to thank the business. But he was told they should be thanking him, because it would have cost them $2,000 to take the pellets of food to a landfill. Jim noted that out of all the surplus and waste in Canada, only four percent of it is rescued, which presents a huge opportunity for more Canadians to do exactly what Harvest Hands is doing.

“We believe that what we have worked through these last three years is a blueprint to help others make a difference in this time,” Jacintha said. “Our end goal is to establish this across Canada. We’ve had people contact us from Alberta and Montreal, and come down to see how they might replicate this model. This is a huge opportunity.”

Meanwhile Jerry Huigen, a southern Ontario dairy farmer, made a five-minute video saying the Canadian Dairy Commission forces him to dump 30,000 litres of milk at the end of the month when he exceeds his quota. “We’re the only country where we dump thousands of litres when we’re over quota,” he said. “Supply management artificially limits supply in order to drive up prices. There’s a lot of single mothers, and food banks that it could go to.”

Brian Lilley from the Toronto Sun reported government waste, in the form of a government contract with a Calgary hotel from April 1, 2020 to Oct. 30, 2022. The government paid the hotel $26.8 million to use it as a quarantine facility, for those who had no other place to quarantine, however only 10 people were accommodated there throughout most of 2022. “The government continued to book the hotel even when there were little to no passengers using it,” Lilley explained. “That amounts to $21,000 for each of the 1,490 people who stayed there over the past three years.” And how many more hotels had the same contracts?

Next on the list of waste: Jay Goldberg from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation was interviewed on the LeDrew 3-minute episode. He reported members of the federal government increased from 260,000 in 2015 to 335,000 in 2023. “It’s costing us (taxpayers) $55 billion/year to pay these people,” Jay said. These out of touch civil servants are demanding a 30% wage increase. “Nowhere in the private sector could you ask for anything near that and still have a job.” Those thousands of increased government positions also make it appear as if unemployment is lower, when in fact taxpayers are paying their wages.

While all of the above is an enormous amount of waste, I have not yet touched on the most valuable loss of all. On February 2nd, staff at Sacred Heart Hospital in Quebec legally aborted a 38-week-old unborn child, because Canada has no restrictions on abortion. The lady said she wasn’t certain about keeping the child, and yet the waiting list for the adoption of newborn babies was not considered. This baby was viable outside the womb, and the termination of the pregnancy could very well have been more dangerous than a c-section. To everyone who speculated that this could never happen in Canada, it just did.

Feel free to email or phone your federal and provincial representatives. This may be an opportunity for Canada to get necessary restrictions on abortion in place. There’s also plenty of opportunity for organizations throughout Canada to access the 96 percent of wasted surplus food.

Let’s help prove the value of the age-old idiom, “Waste not, want not”. Let’s not waste food, nor valuable opportunities.