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Monday, December 10, 2018

Public Health Says Social Assistance Is The Answer To Food Insecurity Issue

Grey Bruce | by Claire McCormack  

Public Health Grey Bruce says Canada’s Food Price Report 2019 is troubling.

Public Health Grey Bruce says Canada’s Food Price Report 2019 is troubling and people need more money to be able to eat.

The national report predicts price increases next year in every food category except meat and seafood and says the average Canadian family is expected to spend an extra $411 on food in 2019.

Public Health Dietician Laura Needham says in Grey Bruce, the 2018 Nutritious Food Basket survey estimates a family of four requires $204.16 each week to meet basic food needs.

"People in our communities do not have enough money for food and we need to see some policy changes, " says Needham.

She says people are looking at the problem from the wrong angle, looking for a food solution as an answer, "Food isn't really where we're going to find an answer, income is where we're going to find an answer."

Needham feels social assistance plays an important role in a food security solution,"Making sure that's a strong social safety net for people rather than weakening that system."  

She says the health unit would have loved to see the Provincial Liberal government's  Basic Income Pilot program continue rather than being cancelled by the Ford Government. "Seeing that pilot either return or in some way be tried in a similar way would be great." She adds putting a temporary stop to the increase in minimum wage isn't helping, we already know minimum wage isn't enough for people to meet their basic needs."

Needham says one in five children across Grey County and Bruce County live in a low income household, while 6.5% of households sometimes or often run out of food before they can afford to buy more.

She notes food insecurity is a significant health concern and a lack of nutrition can lead to chronic diseases like cancers, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Needham says people with poor nutrition are more likely to develop mental health problems like depression, social exclusion and anxiety. She adds food insecurity is also associated with suicidal thoughts in adolescents and young adults.

On top of that, she says health care costs are 23-121%  higher in food insecure households, with costs increasing with severity of food insecurity experienced.

She says Food banks can't address the root cause of household food insecurity which she says is poverty.


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