New report says food bank use on rise with more children, seniors users

Food Banks Canada is using its annual report on the number of people using food banks in the country to push anew for the federal and provincial governments to do away with the social assistance programs.

OTTAWA — Food Banks Canada is using its annual report on the number of people using food banks in the country to push anew for the federal and provincial governments to do away with the social assistance programs.

The group wants to see the existing bureaucracies that oversee social benefits, such as disability payments, instead funnel all the savings into tax measures that would put more money into the hands of low-income earners.

The group’s executive director says that this would create a basic, minimum income for those living near or below the poverty line, and likely save money for governments.

Katharine Schmidt said the move could also reduce the number of people using food banks, which this year crept up by about one per cent to more than 852,000 from the almost 842,000 recorded last year.

“It certainly wouldn’t be an easy thing to do, but if we were to dismantle the existing bureaucracies and put in place a basic income that was administered through the tax system we really believe that it would reduce the overall cost to governments,” she said.

“At the end of the day, we would be a better off Canada than we are today.”

Food Banks Canada has seen two other regular requests in its annual HungerCount report become part of the Liberal government’s campaign platform: to bring down the cost of food in the territories, and money to build more affordable housing across the country.

The Liberals promised $40 million over four years to Nutrition North to help lower food prices in the North, and an affordable housing plan that includes a promise to eliminate the GST on all new rental builds in the country while giving up to $125 million a year to landlords renovating aging rental units.

The report found that this past March, 852,137 people visited a food bank, up just over one per cent from the 841,191 recorded in 2014, but still below the 10-year high of 872,379 recorded in 2013.

The report this year found that almost 36 per cent or users, or about 305,000, were children. That’s equivalent to about 4,260 yellow school buses filled to their 72-seat capacity.

Schmidt said food banks also have seen more seniors on pensions and people in receipt of disability benefits.

The biggest provincial increase was noticed in Alberta as 67,443 people went to a food bank in March, a 23.4 per cent increase from the 49,766 recorded in the same month one year ago.

Food bank use in Saskatchewan stayed flat since last year, while Ontario, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador saw year-over-year declines.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

House sales remain hot in central Alberta with first-quarter sales nearly double last year’s numbers. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta real estate market hot in 2021

Residential sales nearly double 2020 in first quarter

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer gave an update on Olymel's COVID-19 situation on Wednesday. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Veer addresses rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

Red Deer has added nearly 200 cases of active COVID-19 cases in past week

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP investigate culturally insensitive graffiti at Sylvan Lake school

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a vandalism incident. On April 17 around… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Tanner Pearson, right, celebrates after scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie David Rittich during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Friday, April 16, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)
Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Lionel Desmond (front row, far right) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown and shown in this 2007 handout photo taken in Panjwai district in between patrol base Wilson and Masum Ghar in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Trev Bungay MANDATORY CREDIT
Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo State representatives gather at the Capitol, in Phoenix. Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a law barring any instruction on HIV or AIDS that that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle," they are close to enacting a broad remake of the state's sex education laws with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. (AP Photo/Matt York,File)
Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Most Read