‘I’m scared for my baby’: Langley mother says of ongoing formula shortage

There is still a serious shortage of baby formula in Canada, with seemingly little being done by the federal government to fix the problem, a year after concerns were first raised.

Evelina, who CityNews has agreed to not share her last name for privacy, is a mother of two young children in Langley. Her 10-month-old daughter has been on formula since she was born after Evelina was told she doesn’t have enough milk supply.

Right now, she has one canister of baby formula, but it’s been divided in two. Half stays at home and half goes to her daughter’s daycare as Evelina resumes work this week following maternity leave. With little left at home, she dreads knowing she’ll soon after to go back to bare store shelves and buy whatever they have.

“It’s been a little bit hectic. We usually shop at Costco, and we usually grab the Kirkland formula, but it’s been so hard because most of the time they’re out and they don’t know when it’s going to be back,” Evelina told CityNews.

“I’m honestly scared. I’m scared for my baby because I don’t know if she’ll be able to eat.”

“I try to nurse her whenever it’s possible… and it’s really scary not knowing whether or not she’ll be able to find her next meal. It’s troubling knowing I might not be able to provide her with food and necessities,” she explained.

Despite their situation, Evelina says she and her husband are coping with the situation as best they can, however, another challenge is the financial hit.

“We’ve gone over our budget with formula because some of the most economical brands may not be available, so we grab something for like $35, which I think is insane for a tub of baby formula,” she said, adding they’ve spent hundreds of extra dollars because they’re often forced to buy the most expensive ones.

Federal Health Minister grilled in health meeting

The shortage came up in Ottawa last week when Conservative MP Laila Goodridge, who’s a mother herself, put the federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos on the hot seat.

The pair had an intense exchange that lasted several minutes during the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health meeting.

Goodridge asked Duclos repeatedly how much is produced in Canada and the eventual answer may surprise some people — baby formula is not produced in this country and Canada’s entire supply comes from other nations.

“I think it’s sad and I just want to put it on the record, I’m asking very simply if there was spending for increasing domestic production, [and] the answer was, ‘No.’ I asked if there was domestic production, the answer was, ‘No.’

“So, [Canada is importing] product but we’re not finding it on the shelves, that doesn’t really help families that are struggling today and it’s not planning for the future for the families that are inevitably going to be struggling,” Goodridge said.

Related Articles:

It was also revealed during the committee meeting that there is no federal funding set aside currently to produce formula in Canada.

“This is a very challenging, stressing situation for lots of families… this is going to last for another couple of weeks and possibly months because we can’t control foreign production,” admitted Duclos.

The health minister did say Ottawa would invest in the short-term to address the crisis but never gave a dollar amount. CityNews reached out to his office and Health Canada for those details.

Evelina is one parent who didn’t know Canada doesn’t make baby formula. She’s frustrated and stunned.

“Oh, my goodness. There’s definitely something that needs to be done about that because we’re a very large country and we should be able to support ourselves and support our population. Babies are such a fragile portion of our population that I’m so surprised we’re not independent enough to be able to produce our own food,” she said.

Health Canada suggests options while it works to increase supply

Health Canada says it’s monitoring the situation and adds it’s working directly with manufacturers to increase supply.

“Additionally, Health Canada has published an interim policy, which has been extended until December 31st, 2023, to facilitate the importation of equivalent infant formulas from other countries that have high quality and manufacturing standards similar to Canada.

“More than 70 products, including 9 regular infant formulas have been authorized over the past year for temporary importation under this policy, and the list of products eligible for importation continues to be updated regularly,” it says on its website.

Health Canada is also suggesting people switch to other formulas if they can’t find what they need and strongly advise against making formula at home.

As the shortage drags on, a number of grocery stores across the country are limiting how much people can buy.

“Due to demand, and in order to ensure we continue to have product available in-store and online, we are temporarily limiting purchase quantities of infant formula to 2 per customer,” says Walmart Canada in a statement to CityNews.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today