Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Rising Food Costs Cast Shadow on Canada’s Poverty Reduction Efforts

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Canadas impressive progress in lowering poverty rates could be reversed by skyrocketing food prices warns a leaked government report

Canada’s impressive progress in lowering poverty rates could be reversed by skyrocketing food prices, warns a leaked government report. The Department of Social Development predicts a 14% or higher surge in food inflation this year, pushing up the cost of staples like peanut butter and potentially pushing millions back into poverty by spring.

The report, titled “Food Insecurity,” obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter, states, “As food prices climb, so too will poverty thresholds.” This rise in food costs could erase gains made by programs like the Canada Child Benefit, which successfully brought the national poverty rate down from 14.5% in 2016 to 6.5% in 2020. However, increased grocery bills already bumped the rate back up to 7.4% in 2021.

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The Canada Child Benefit, offering up to $7,437 per preschooler and $6,275 for school-aged children, helps millions of families cope with living expenses. But even cost-of-living adjustments to the program may not keep pace with inflation, the report suggests.

This surge in food insecurity isn’t just a statistic. An estimated 13% of Canadians now experience “food insecurity,” compared to 11% in 2020. This ranges from “marginal insecurity” – worrying about running out of food or having limited choices – to “severe insecurity,” which can involve missed meals or even going hungry.

This leaked report raises critical questions about Canada’s ability to sustain progress on poverty reduction in the face of rising food costs. It underlines the need for effective policy responses to ensure these hard-won gains aren’t lost and that vulnerable families have access to nutritious food.

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