Accessing the retail subsidy
Nutrition North Canada is always looking to expand the reach and effectiveness of the program. New establishments are encouraged to apply.
Improvements to Nutrition North Canada
Improvements to the Nutrition North Canada (NNC) retail subsidy program announced in August 2022 provide additional supports to residents in isolated communities. It is now easier for small northern retailers and suppliers to register with the program, and the program eligibility has expanded to food banks, charitable organizations and local growers to increase access to donated and locally produced foods.
On this page
Who can apply?
To sell or distribute food and other essentials at reduced prices with financial support from the NNC retail subsidy, your business or charitable organization can either:
- apply to be registered with NNC
- buy eligible items from registered retailers or suppliers
Once registered, you'll be able to claim the subsidy on eligible items shipped to or grown in eligible communities.
The following types of establishments can apply to register:
- Retailers operating stores in eligible communities who sell eligible food and essential items.
- Suppliers located outside of eligible communities who sell food to:
- northern retailers
- eligible social institutions (schools, daycares, and more)
- eligible commercial establishments (restaurants, hotels, and more)
- individuals in eligible communities (direct or personal orders)
- Country food processors or distributors:
- Establishments that are registered, inspected or licensed by the government and produce food approved-for-export and are located in a community eligible for a subsidy under the program.
- Food banks and charitable organizations:
- Registered food banks and other charitable organizations which serve eligible communities, without profit.
- Local food growers:
- Greenhouses and other growing facilities located in eligible communities that produce food for local sale or distribution.
While individuals cannot apply for the subsidy, residents of northern, isolated communities can access subsidized items by purchasing them from registered retailers or placing a direct order with a registered supplier.
NNC does not subsidize the operations of resource companies, construction companies and government establishments in or near eligible communities. For more information, please see Non-eligible organizations.
How to apply?
The first step in applying is to contact the program identifying your establishment and expressing interest in accessing the retail subsidy: firstname.lastname@example.org
The application process requires the completion of an application form, along with these supporting documents:
- a list of stores in eligible communities (large retailers), or a list of eligible communities served (a charitable organization)
- a verifiable forecast in kilograms of monthly shipments of all eligible items by subsidy level for the coming fiscal year
- recent audited financial statements
- an explanation of how program requirements will be met, including:
- capacity to submit claims and documentation electronically, related to monthly itemized shipment and pricing reports
- plans for program visibility and transparency for consumers through signage, receipts and other communication material provided by NNC
Evaluations of supplier applications also considers:
- Northern shipping experience
- ability to provide eligible food tailored to specific nutrition needs (such as: gluten-free, kosher, peanut-free)
- forecast of shipments of eligible food to eligible communities
- Indigenous ownership
- financial stability and sustainability
Small retailers and local growers without a business number with the Canada Revenue Agency can provide a letter of support from the local government or Band Administrator, indicating they are operating with the support of the local government. Other accommodations for small retailers and local growers wishing to register with the program may apply.
Once an application is approved and you are registered with the program, a Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (CIRNAC) official will contact you to prepare a Contribution Agreement. This agreement outlines the obligations that the recipient must fulfill to receive subsidy payments from CIRNAC, as well as CIRNAC's obligations. These obligations support the program objective, which include:
- agree to support Nutrition Education Initiatives in local stores by working with community workers and health professionals funded by Health Canada/Public Health Agency of Canada
- agree to provide access to facilities and records for recipient audit purposes as required by CIRNAC
- agree to certify for each claim submission that the subsidy was passed on to consumers
- agree to conduct business engaged through NNC funding in a way that respects the Values and Ethics of the Government of Canada
- agree to the terms and conditions of the contribution agreement to be entered into with CIRNAC to govern the payment of the subsidy
- agree to provide timely and complete reporting and price data (including data on the Revised Northern Food Basket and pre-subsidy prices) as required
- agree to make the program visible and the subsidy transparent to consumers where applicable (messages on cash register receipts, in-store signage and displays provided by CIRNAC)
Subsidy claims, payments and verification
As per each Contribution Agreement, the registered recipients must submit subsidy claims each month the subsidy is accessed in order to receive a subsidy payment. A third-party claims processor handles the program's subsidy claims system, reviewing the information provided in each claim for accuracy and completeness.
Each claim must include:
- a detailed report on the types and weights of products for which the subsidy is being claimed
- documents that prove the products were purchased and shipped (invoice, waybill)
- information on where and to whom the products were shipped
- an attestation that the claim is accurate and valid, and that the subsidy was passed on to consumers
Retailers and suppliers submit claims each month. The amount of the subsidy is calculated using this formula: subsidy level ($/kg) × weight of eligible item (kg) = $ subsidy payment. The program also conducts compliance audits of a sample of recipients each year, through an independent, accredited third-party auditor. NNC is committed to ensuring the full subsidy is passed on to northern consumers
Additional reporting requirements
As stated in each Contribution Agreement, subsidy recipients are required to periodically report additional data such as the pre-subsidy prices and the cost of items in the Revised Northern Food Basket. This data supports program monitoring and management, and provides a broader understanding of the cost of living in NNC eligible communities.
Recipients registered with NNC are not allowed to claim a subsidy for products sold to or ordered on behalf of the following kinds of businesses and organizations:
- mining companies
- oil and gas companies
- exploration companies and camps
- companies providing support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction, exploration and development
- surveying and mapping services
- construction companies
- environmental cleanup operations
- electricity companies
- weather stations
- research stations and projects
- military establishments and operations
- bed and breakfast establishments and boarding houses, except where these facilities are used as women's shelters, emergency housing or other such purpose as affirmed by the local government
Employees and owners of such businesses in or near eligible communities can benefit from the NNC subsidy, as individuals, by purchasing eligible food in local stores or by placing direct or personal orders with registered suppliers.
Claims portal for registered recipients
Use the claim tool to submit subsidy-related documents (Login required).