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Food insecurity leads to call for provincial action

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s Board of Health is calling on the province to increase social assistance rates and revisit the basic income program.

A series of motions were passed as the Health Unit released its 2022 Cost of Eating Well report. 

The report shows it costs a family of four about $1,125 a month to eat according to Canada’s Food Guide. 

Officials say for households receiving social assistance, including Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program, the financial situation is dire.   

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“After paying for food and rent there may not be enough money left for necessities such as heat, hydro, transportation, telephone, and other living expenses,” states a release. “Sixty-seven per cent of households with social assistance as their main income experience food insecurity in Ontario.”

According to the report, food costs are increasing with Statistics Canada reporting food cost increases in 2022 of over 10 percent along with inflation rates not seen since the early 80s

The Health Unit says experiencing food insecurity is associated with a higher risk of developing many physical and mental health problems.

It says government income-based policies can reduce food insecurity by providing low-income households with more money for their basic necessities, including food.

Twelve grocery stores around the district are surveyed to determine the cost of eating according to Canada’s Food Guide, with local rent rates and household income scenarios factored in to determine food affordability.

You can find the full Health Unit report by clicking here.

**With files from Mo Fahim

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