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Better wages solution to hunger, not more food

Higher prices for groceries are going to hit a lot of people hard.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says one out of every eight in the region is already struggling to put food on their tables. That amounts to about 70,000 people and it’s only going to get worse next year.

Canada’s Food Price Report 2019 is predicting a 3.5 per cent jump in grocery prices. That means the average family of four can expect to pay more than $12,000 for groceries over the course of the year. Although meat and seafood prices are expected to fall, those savings will be offset by rising prices in other areas, including a four to six per cent increase for vegetables.

Jules Phorson, a Public Health Dietitian with the SMDHU, said there are going to be health effects from people not being able to afford to eat healthily. That includes a rise in chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

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Phorson said the root cause of the problem is low income, adding that household food insecurity is rooted in poverty, telling that while food banks are short-term solutions, they can’t be the primary response.

That’s why the SMDHU has come up with its No Money For Food Is Cent$less campaign.

The goal of the campaign is getting the message out that more food alone doesn’t solve hunger, income solutions do. Those solutions, Phorson said, include things like affordable housing, increasing social assistance rates, and coming up with a long-term solution to the problem of low wages.

“All three levels of government need to be doing more to address these issues,” commented Phorson.

Phorson went on to point out that living in an area like Muskoka, where tourism is the biggest driver of the economy, can make things even more difficult. That’s because of the seasonal nature and typically low wages that tourism-related jobs create.

That’s why the campaign supports things like raising the minimum wage, indexing social assistance to inflation, and establishing a basic minimum income for all Ontarians.

You can learn more about the SMDHU’s No Money For Food Is Cent$less campaign on this website.


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