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.

Just Posted

One strong wind leaves years of replanting work for Red Deer parks staff

High visibility boulevards already replanted, neighbourhood work starts next year

Red Deer-area indigenous filmmakers invited to apply for $20,000 grant

Storyhive launches Indigenous Storyteller Edition

Restaurant closed after compliance team patrol

Public Safety Compliance Team checked eight bars and restaurants on Oct. 19

Red Deerians await local cannabis stores

So far 31 stores in Alberta awarded licence to operate

Rimbey RCMP seek missing man with health concerns

Has anyone seen Bill Harris of Ponka County?

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Local Sports: Rudy Soffo valuable to Kings on the court

When Rudy Soffo first saw the RDC basketball Kings roster he was… Continue reading

Except for 1 kick, Saints, Ravens are evenly matched

BALTIMORE — In a matchup between the league’s highest-scoring offence and top-ranked… Continue reading

Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets a top award for comedy

WASHINGTON — After a 35-year acting career and with two iconic television… Continue reading

Ricky Skaggs, Dottie West enter Country Music Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE — Bluegrass and country star Ricky Skaggs, singer Dottie West and… Continue reading

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

LONDON — Stephen Hawking was a cosmic visionary, a figure of inspiration… Continue reading

Canada deemed U.S. a safe country for asylum seekers after internal review

OTTAWA — Canadian immigration officials have determined that the United States remains… Continue reading

Bombardier sues Mitsubishi over alleged theft of aircraft trade secrets

MONTREAL — Bombardier is suing Mitsubishi Aircraft in the United States over… Continue reading

Three strong earthquakes reported in Pacific Ocean off Vancouver Island

Three relatively strong earthquakes were recorded Sunday night in the Pacific Ocean… Continue reading

Most Read