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Food Banks Canada report card says BC making inadequate progress

Powell River Action Centre Food Bank manager agrees much more needs to be done

Economic uncertainty can be felt by most Canadians, due to high interest rates and inflation, post COVID-19 pandemic issues, and the war in Ukraine impacting supply chains.

However, for those living with low income and considered vulnerable, they are feeling the impact of poverty on the ground. According to Food Banks Canada’s Poverty Report Cards, more than 42.6 per cent of people nationally feel financially worse off compared to last year; 18.4 per cent are experiencing food insecurity and almost 30 per cent are coping with an inadequate standard of living.

“Until now, information about poverty has been scattered across the country and is difficult to compare from government to government,” explained Phil Ozga, chief network and government relations officer, Food Banks Canada, in a media release last month. “Now, Food Banks Canada has developed an objective way to compare the progress of every government over time, focusing on providing governments with tangible ways to improve and prioritize poverty reduction efforts.”

Here is a snapshot of BC’s Food Banks Canada report card: 39 per cent of people in BC use more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, 57 per cent of those on social assistance say rates are not enough to keep up with the cost of living, and 47 per cent said they feel worse off financially, versus in 2022. See the methodology, data collection and analysis used to make the report here.

“These statistics are about government policy not doing enough,” said Savanna Dee, manager of Powell River Action Centre Food Bank in the qathet region. “So much more is needed to help people; food banks are being overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the crisis that people are experiencing, because of the government’s decisions.”

According to the report card: The BC housing market is the most unaffordable in the country, and a lack of affordable housing has become a key characteristic of the province. 

“An overall lack of action on affordable housing, and improving social assistance lies at the heart of Canada’s growing struggle with poverty and food insecurity,” stated Ozga. “All governments must find a new sense of urgency and act together to combat this issue.”

Another contributing factor for Food Banks Canada’s low report card score for BC is, not surprisingly, the fact that: “BC is struggling deeply with mental health problems and addictions. A vast majority of individuals (65 per cent) in the province state that addiction is an issue in their community that needs to be addressed. Half of the province believes that addiction is not getting the attention it needs and that people facing mental health or addictions issues need more and better support,” according to the report.

“Powell River Action Centre used to have five or six new clients a year, and so far this year we have passed 160 new people: families, seniors, children and the working poor,” said Dee. “Something has to change soon.”

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