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Ontario Middle-of-the-Pack Performer On Food Report Card

Ottawa, May 18, 2017— Ontario is in the middle-of-the-pack among the provinces when it comes to the performance of its food systems and industry, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s first provincial food report card. Canada’s Food Report Card: Provincial Performance presents data and analysis on five categories: industry prosperity, healthy food and diets, food safety, household food security, and environmental sustainability.

“While there are a couple of areas where the province leads, for the most part Ontario places near or just below the national average on many of the indicators used to assess food performance,” said Jean-Charles Le Vallée, Associate Director, Centre for Food, The Conference Board of Canada. “One area in need of improvement is environmental sustainability. Ontario is the worst-ranked province on this category.”


  • Ontario receives mixed grades on food performance. Ontario is the lowest ranked province on environmental sustainability.
  • The province performs well on food recalls and waste diversion, but places near the bottom on child food insecurity and vulnerability to food emergencies.
  • Saskatchewan is the best performing province with “A” grades in four of the five categories.

Province Lags on Environmental Sustainability

Ontario’s lowest grade is a “D” for environmental sustainability, where it ranks last among the provinces. Ontario falls near the bottom on a number of indicators in this category, including agricultural GHG emissions, ammonia emissions, and coliform contamination. The province also has the greatest share of cropland at risk of soil erosion. One bright spot for the province is waste diversion, where Ontario leads all provinces for increases in organic foods diverted by households between 2004 and 2012.

Solid Performance on Food Safety and Healthy Food and Diets

Ontario receives “B”s on two categories: food safety, and healthy food and diets. The province ranks well on the number of food recalls per 100,000 people. Ontario, along with Quebec, are the only two provinces to earn an “A” for this indicator. However, Ontario’s average performance on incidences of food-borne illness and animal condemnation bring down its overall grade on the food safety category.

When it comes to healthy food and diets, Ontario’s shortcomings mirror those experienced in the rest of Canada. Ontarians consume more calories and sodium than they need, and do not eat enough fruits and vegetables or fish and shellfish. While Ontarians still exceed the recommended upper daily limit of sodium per day, Ontario is the best provincial performer on this indicator and receives a “C”. Ontario performs well among the provinces when it come to carbohydrate, saturated fat, and added sugar intake.

Province Gets Mixed Results on Food Security and Industry Prosperity

Ontario receives mixed scores for its food security performance and earns an overall “C” on this category. As is the case in most Canadian provinces, youth and adults in Ontario are unlikely to be moderately or severely food insecure. Ontario also does well on indigenous food insecurity and food bank use by children. However, the province needs to improve its performance on the percentage of adults and children who said they were hungry but could not afford more food. Ontario households are also more vulnerable to food emergencies due to higher debt service ratio. The debt service ratio measures the share of disposable income required to meet interest payments on household debt.

Ontario is a middle to bottom ranking performer on industry prosperity—receiving a “C” grade. Ontario falls short on the size of its farms, as well as the number of farms in the province with a revenue of at least $500,000. Ontario’s per capita food manufacturing exports score is lower than peer provinces.

In all, 63 food performance metrics were used to evaluate the overall food performance of the provinces. Definitions for the indicators and the full report are available from our e-Library.

Canada’s Food Report Card: Provincial Performance was prepared for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Food Observatory (CFO). The Observatory monitors progress on improving food performance, spurs the required changes and encourages action to make the Canadian Food Strategy a reality.

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