Local Public Health Response to 2018 Ontario Budget
Written by Communications, March 29, 2018
March 29, 2018 – Important first steps but still not enough
The 2018 Ontario Budget proposes a number of important changes to social assistance, but Peterborough Public Health notes that for local residents on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program, the proposed basic needs and maximum shelter rates increase of 3% per year for the next three years, though welcomed, is still not enough to be able to afford housing and healthy food.
Peterborough Public Health’s 2017 Limited Incomes report based on income scenarios that compared the cost of a Nutritious Food Basket and local housing costs with local incomes clearly demonstrates that social assistance rates are not high enough.
“Low income residents are forced to choose between housing, a healthy diet and other basic needs. This has a profound impact on health because income influences living conditions and affects our overall quality of life and general well-being” states Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health. “Our recent Low Income and its Impact on Health Report shows that individuals living on low incomes have higher rates of chronic disease and are more likely to die earlier that individuals who are better off financially. It would have been preferable if yesterday’s budget incorporated the higher three-year rate increases outlined in the 2017 Income Security: A Roadmap for Change report.”
One in six of all households in Peterborough struggles with not having enough money to pay the rent and afford food. The situation is even more serious for local low-income households and households with children under 18 years of age.
Analysis of the Canadian Community Health Survey responses shows that locally, 38% of low income households report being food insecure.
“One in three households raising children in Peterborough is challenged to pay the rent and buy healthy food that is essential for the healthy growth and development of children,” said Carolyn Doris, Registered Dietitian at Peterborough Public Health.
The analysis also shows that severe food insecurity – missing meals, reducing food intake and at the most extreme, going without food for a day or more – is a local concern. “Rates of extreme food insecurity are higher here in comparison to Ontario rates,” said Ms. Doris. She noted that 20% of low income households report experiencing severe food insecurity, as compared to 9% of Ontario low income households. “This clearly shows how closely tied income and food insecurity are as local families are forced to go without or use cheap and less nutritious foods to fill bellies. It takes more than food to solve hunger.”
Food insecurity is more than a food problem; it is caused by a lack of income. The Peterborough Food Action Network (PFAN) encourages all local residents to learn more about why “No Money for Food is…Cent$less” by visiting www.odph.ca/centsless.
For further information, please contact:
705-743-1000, ext. 391