Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Food Insecurity

Food Insecurity has become a major problem for millions of Canadians. Armine Yalnizyan writes:

Almost six million people were food insecure last year in Canada. More than a third of them were in Ontario, where 16 per cent, or one in six households, struggle with food insecurity.

Food insecurity ranges from having to limit the essentials to doing without food entirely because of lack of money.

In Ontario in 2021, 249,000 households missed meals, reduced their intake of food or went days without eating. Ontario was the only province where more people were food insecure in 2021 than in 2020.

Count on more people going hungry this year. That’s because food is the most difficult to ignore of the three basic drivers of decades-high inflation rates: housing, gas and food.

Food has also become the most relentlessly rising cost in household budgets, up 10.8 per cent this year over 2021, the fastest pace of price growth since 1981.

To deal with the problem, the Trudeau government has put several measures in place:

Last week the Trudeau government introduced $4.6 billion in federal aid to be spent on inflation relief until the end of 2023, almost every penny for those with low incomes.

The package includes $2.5 billion over the next six months to provide a bit of extra cash for about 11 million people currently receiving the GST tax credit, providing low-income seniors an additional $233.50, a single mom with a child $386.50 more, and a couple with two children an extra $467.

There is also a one-time $500 top up to the federal housing benefit, costing $1.2 billion and reaching 1.8 million eligible renters.

Predictably, the Right is up in arms:

Bank economists and some fiscal conservatives have pushed back hard against these measures. As in other countries, the chattering classes have embraced a new economic theme: government efforts to fight inflation will trigger even more inflation by adding spending to the mix.

Pierre Poilievre, Canada’s new leader of the Official Opposition, chimed in, saying: “The problem with spending more money as a solution to inflation is that it simply pours more gasoline on the inflation fire.”

In truth the measures are so modest (only $3.2 billion in additional spending this fiscal year, targeted to cash-strapped households) that they amount to about 0.1 per cent of nominal GDP and one per cent of current growth, hardly a tail that could wag a dog.

Along with the child-care fee rebate, financed by the feds and promised by the Ontario government to start in April (money that has yet to arrive in mailboxes), there’s a lot of talk but not a lot of cash flowing to households.

There’s no chance current measures will spur inflationary overspending anytime soon, and there is more trouble on the horizon this fall.

Gas prices are down from the highs of the summer, but forecasts are pricing in significant increases in the coming months.

Poilievre blames all this on Trudeau. He calls it "Justin Flation." He's loud. But he doesn't know much.

Image: The Toronto Star


lungta said...

He's loud. But he doesn't know much.
Looks like a nerd but not a nerd. Nerds are smart.

Owen Gray said...

Poilievre is smart in a reptilian kind of way, lungta. But he's no Renaissance Man.

e.a.f. said...

people like Pilievre develop an animal type cunning which serves them well in politics. Being a better human being which cares about people going hungry in Canada, not so much,.
Have never understood why people thought it was O.K. for others to go hungry, especially kids who have little to no control ove their lives. Why make children go hungry? I'd really like some of those assholes to explain it to me. How do hungry people make it a better world or country? How do hungry children benefit society?

The money the federal government put into population during COVID is not the cause of inflation, It kept the country afloat, well it kept a lot of Canadians afloat. Where I live on Vancouver Island, most of the people around me were in receipt of funds from the federal government and they included a small business owner, who said without the loan she would have had to close. The rest of the people were able to feed their families, pay some of their bills. Its one of the best things a federal government has done in this country besides our medical plans and CPP, etc.

There is inflation in other countries which did not have as decent programs as Canada did or the money for their federal government was stolen by those who were to disperse it. Minnisota has charged a group of about 40 people with stealing $250M which was intended for children food programs. In Canada, our goverment sent the money straight to the people.

If people had not received the money they did from the federal government we would have had bankruptcies, increased people filing for welfare which would have been a huge burden on the provinces, more suicides, more substance abuse, more domestic violence.

During the pandemic my source of income continued, but for those whose didn't the money Trudeau had sent out was a blessing to this country. Just ask the people who received it.

Owen Gray said...

Poilievre would not have acted the same way to support Canadians during the pandemic. e.a.f. He's not what he claims to be -- the common man's friend.

Toby said...

Canada's food policy has been out of whack for at least 50 years, probably since the 1950s. The only Agriculture Minister who understood was Eugene Whelan who did his best. The rest were and are in thrall to the big corporate agribusiness. I'm sitting in the middle of one of Canada's best locations for growing fruit and produce. So what's the major crop now? Grapes destined for the wine industry. In the big corporate super markets one can find fruit and produce from all over the world. Is that a good thing? Only in the dead of winter.

Good, healthy food should be cheap and easily available to any and all. Instead, Canadian agriculture has been traded away in those terrible trade deals, farmers and poor people always the sacrificial losers.

jrkrideau said...

If Wiki is to be believed Poilievre has never had a full-time job outside of politics and apparently is a fan of Milton Friedman. I wonder if he keeps Atlas Shrugged handy for bedtime reading? /sarc

Owen Gray said...

Food is a basic human need and a human right Toby. People should come before profits.

Owen Gray said...

I wouldn't be surprised to find that Poilievre admires Rand, jrk. After all, she believed that selfishness is a virtue.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Owen, I did a course on food security that surprisingly turned into a study of how to keep fresh strawberries on the shelves of Sainsbury's year round.

There was enough information to help me explore how parasitic First World agra-business was devastating local food availability in the host countries of the Third World. It bears some resemblance to the 18th and 19th century slave trade.

In much of the Third World there's never been a proper land title registry. People without title are at the mercy of corrupt officials who throw them off their ancestral lands to deliver their land to foreign corporations. It's a particularly ugly version of the Highland Clearances.

Developed or developing nations from China to the Saudis to the Brits are snapping up the best farmland in the Third World. That's an international wrong we never hear addressed.

Owen Gray said...

It's Disaster Capitalism, Mound -- with life's most basic resource.

Trailblazer said...


Developed or developing nations from China to the Saudis to the Brits are snapping up the best farmland in the Third World. That's an international wrong we never hear addressed.

It's called colonialism; being going on for centuries.
Think Tea and coffee , not to mention the raw materials for the benefit of the mechanised ages.
I had business dealings with a ex patriot Ugandan ex Indian/Pakistani , Muslim, egg farmer who set up his egg business in BC after 'pig farming' in Uganda !!!

When all else fails; money rules....


Owen Gray said...

Money gets its way, TB.