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Nearly 7M Canadians struggling to put food on the table: report

WATCH: With the cost of food, housing, and nearly all essentials on the rise, food banks are becoming increasingly vital for families struggling to make ends meet. Food Banks Canada has graded each Canadian province and territory on efforts to reduce poverty. Nivrita Ganguly reports – Sep 26, 2023

Nearly seven million Canadians are struggling to put food on the table as the cost of living and housing crisis continues to bite, according to a new report.

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Food Banks Canada released its inaugural poverty report on Tuesday that painted a bleak national picture, with most provinces receiving a grade in the D-range when it comes to tackling poverty.

The report found that more than 42 per cent of the population feels financially worse off compared with last year, 18 per cent is coping with food insecurity, and almost one-third also said they have an inadequate standard of living.

At least 2.8 million Canadians are living in poverty, which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and inflation, among other contributing factors, Food Banks Canada said in its report.

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“Our country needs a collective and concerted effort from all levels of government to ensure that poverty growth not only slows down but actually reverses course so that we can get Canada to a place where no one is forced to turn to a food bank to make ends meet,” the report said.

In recent years, the demand has risen sharply at food banks in Canada.

A previous report from Food Banks Canada released last year showed an all-time high of nearly 1.5 million visits to food banks across the country in March 2022.

In its new report, Food Banks Canada graded each jurisdiction based on experiences of poverty, measurements of poverty, standard of living and government legislation.

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Nova Scotia performed the worst with an F grade. Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and New Brunswick got a D-, while Alberta and Saskatchewan received a D. British Columbia got a D+ and Manitoba as well as Prince Edwards Island a C-. Quebec scored highest with a B-.

The territories were marked as incomplete due to a lack of data collection.

This comes as Canada’s inflation rate rose to four per cent in August — an increase that Statistics Canada said was largely attributed to higher gas prices, with modest relief at grocery stores.

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At a summit in Ottawa last week, the federal government summoned Canada’s top grocery executives and called on them to keep prices in check.

Food Banks Canada urged all levels of government to take action, laying out a number of policy recommendations, such as collaboration with Indigenous communities and developing a new program within Employment Insurance that specifically supports older workers.

“While inflation is expected to decrease in the coming months, the government will need to continue to implement long-term solutions to address poverty and income inequality, including expanding accessible social support programs and investments in affordable housing and infrastructure,” it said.

— with files from Global News’ Craig Lord. 


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