A letter from the Board of Health to the Province of Ontario
Read the letter the HKPR District Health Unit’s Board of Health has issued to Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones, and the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Merrilee Fullerton.
March 3, 2023
Dear Premier Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister Jones, and Minister Fullerton,
Re: Addressing Household Food Insecurity in Ontario
At its meeting held on February 16, 2023, the Board of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit discussed and endorsed correspondence from the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health urging the Ontario government to adopt income-based solutions that effectively reduce household food insecurity.
Based on a local survey in 2019, it is estimated that close to 11% of households in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit area are food insecure1. A household’s source of income predicts their vulnerability to food insecurity2. The lower the income a household makes, the more vulnerable they are to experience food insecurity.
Through an analysis relating the cost of healthy eating with different household incomes, a family of four with a full-time minimum wage earner would need to spend between 39% and 63% of their income on rent3. The cost of a Nutritious Food Basket will require 28% of their income. After paying for rent and food, individuals would find themselves with only an average of $754 remaining to afford other basic needs such as utilities, medications, transportation, childcare, etc3. In the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district area, in order to actually cover the costs of living (known as the living wage), people would need to earn $19.054. This results in a gap of $4/hour between the current minimum wage and a living wage.
Inadequate income and household food insecurity result in poor health outcomes and higher healthcare costs. Provincial income policies such as bringing back the basic income guarantee project, eliminating the gap between the minimum wage and a living wage, indexing social assistance rates to the cost of living, and reducing income tax rates for the lowest income households are essential components to effectively reduce household food insecurity. The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s Board of Health supports the recommendations made by the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health.
We appreciate your consideration of this important public health issue.
BOARD OF HEALTH FOR THE HALIBURTON, KAWARTHA, PINE RIDGE DISTRICT HEALTH UNIT
David Marshall, Board of Health Chair
1 RRFSS (Jan-Dec 2019), HKPRDHU and the Institute for Social Research (ISR), York University.
2 Tarasuk V, Li T, Fafard St-Germain AA. (2022). Household food insecurity in Canada, 2021. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from www.proof.utoronto.ca
3 Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit. (2023). Addressing food insecurity and poverty in the County of Haliburton, city of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County, 2022. Retrieved from www.hkpr.on.ca
4 Coleman A, Shaban R. (2022). Calculating Ontario’s living wages 2022. Retrieved from www.ontariolivingwage.ca