Dear Honourable Deputy Minister Freeland, Minister Gould, Minister Fraser, Minister Hussen, Minister Qualtrough, Minister Hajdu, Minister Vandal, and Minister Ien,
October 17 is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Dignity for All, along with Chew on This! Supporters across the country are calling on the federal government to implement equitable and effective policies to eradicate poverty and food insecurity.
Canada has signed international human rights commitments and has a duty to uphold the rights of all people in this country. In 2015, Canada adopted the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which include targets for (1) No Poverty and (2) Zero Hunger.
Reports from ESDC say they are on track to meet, or even exceed, the targets of their Poverty Reduction Strategy. But even with these improvements, millions are being left behind. Rates of food insecurity have continued to climb, with a provincial average of 15.9% in 2021 (approximately 1 in 6 households), and even higher rates in the territories.
- Poverty and food insecurity disproportionately impact people who are Black, Indigenous, or disabled, and people with precarious immigration status. 28.9% of Black households and
- 28.2% of Indigenous households live with food insecurity, compared to just 11% of white households
- 1 Food insecurity rates intensify for people with intersecting forms of oppression, such as those who are 2SLGBTQ+, women, single mothers, and young adults.
Food insecurity is not about a lack of food, it is about a lack of income and access. Social
assistance rates (including welfare and disability supports) fall short of the poverty line in every province and territory2 with 63.1% of recipients’ households experiencing food insecurity. 3 But this issue must be tackled by the federal government as well. 13.7% of households whose main source of income is employment are also food insecure.4
Inadequate wages and income supports are compounded by high costs of housing, childcare, medical needs, and other essentials, leaving millions of people sacrificing their food budgets when there isn’t enough money to pay for rent and other “non-negotiable” expenses.
Food charity is not the solution.
Food security requires food systems that provide safe working conditions for all workers and can adapt to climate change pressures. Food security requires income security and affordable housing. It requires empowering and funding community-led local and sustainable solutions. It requires recognizing food sovereignty for Indigenous and Black people.
We have outlined 4 policy recommendations that address some of the underlying causes of food insecurity in Canada and its disproportionate impacts among equity-seeking groups.
1. Increase income security: Increase federal income benefits, including Employment
Insurance, the Canada Worker’s Benefit, Canada Disability Benefit, Guaranteed Income
Supplement, Canada Housing Benefit, and the Canada Child Benefit, to reflect current
gaps and inadequacies. Expand eligibility to ensure all people living in Canada are
automatically enrolled for benefits.
2. Status for All: Give everyone living in Canada permanent resident status to ensure that
they have access to fair wages, worker protections, healthcare, EI, and other government
benefits and programs.
3. Subsidise Food Shipping Costs to the North: While this recommendation will not
address all forms of food insecurity in northern communities, increasing government
subsidies for food shipping expenses will make food costs immediately more affordable
4. Support Community-led Programs & Food Sovereignty: Provide stable, adequate
funding to community-run and non-profit food programs (particularly for Indigenous and
Black-led organizations), recognizing community members with lived experience of food
insecurity as experts in what services and food options are needed.
This letter has been endorsed by organizations and advocates across the country and across
sectors (please see the full list of signatures below). We would be grateful for the opportunity to meet with you to provide more information specific to your respective mandates and our policy recommendations.
We look forward to working with you toward our human rights commitments.
Dignity for All Co-Leads
Natalie Appleyard Emilly Renaud Leila Sarangi
Citizens for Public Justice Canada Without Poverty Campaign 2000
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org LeilaSa@familyservicetoronto.org
613-232-0275 ext. 222 613-789-0096 416-595-9230 ext. 250
Canadian Mental Health Association
Advancement Women of Halton (AWH)
Food Secure Canada
Accessible Housing Network
Basic Income Canada Network
Martha Justice Ministry, Sisters of St. Martha, Antigonish
Disability Action Hall
West Coast LEAF
Canadian Association of Social Workers
Grand(m)others Act to Save the Planet (GASP)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Family Service Canada
Leading in Colour
Greenwood United Church Peterborough
Child Welfare League of Canada
The Disabled Women's Network of Canada (DAWN Canada)
Co: Culture Collective
Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness
Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition - BC
The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg
Antigonish Coalition to End Poverty
BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) / Initiative: Une Ville pour Toutes les Femmes (IVTF)
Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination
Guelph Community Health Centre
Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition
Mom2Mom Child Poverty Initiative Society
NB Common Front for Social Justice/Front commun pour la justice sociale du NB
New Tecumseth Climate Action
ODSP Action Coalition
Ontario Dietitians in Public Health
Parkdale Food Centre
Poverty Free Halton
Red Bear Healing Home Society
Reducing Poverty Together Oxford (community collaborative)
Social and Environmental Action Committee, Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist
Social Justice & Advocacy Committee, Anglican Diocese of Toronto
Social Planning Council Oxford
United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin
Voice of Albertans with Disabilities
YWCA Niagara Region