Report to: Chair and members of the Board of Health
Meeting Date: October 5, 2016
Report Number: BH.01.OCT0516.R17
Prepared by: Lisa Needham, Public Health Nutritionist
Approved by: Rita Sethi, Director, Community Health and Wellness
Submitted by: Dr. Nicola J. Mercer, MD, MBA, MPH, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health & CEO
1. That the Board of Health share the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Nutritious Food
Basket (NFB) survey results with the following to increase community awareness of
the cost of healthy eating:
- Consumers through the Public Health website and other media; and
- Local health and social service groups and officials.
2. That the Board of Health forward this report to the Association of Local Public Health
Agencies and the Ontario Public Health Association who advocate for those who are
- This report provides information on the cost of a Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) in Wellington, Dufferin and Guelph (WDG) for 2016. The NFB is a tool that estimates the basic cost for an individual or household to eat healthy. Data from the NFB costing is used by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) for program planning and to promote access to healthy, nutritious food. In 2016, the cost of the NFB in WDG for a reference family (a man and woman each aged 31 to 50 years; a boy, 14 to 18 years of age; and a girl, four to eight years old) is $212.44 per week.
- In 2016, food costs increased 1% since 2015. Local data shows that since 2009 when the new nutritious food basket protocol was implemented, there has been a 27% increase in the cost of food over a 7 year period.
- The results of this report clearly show that individuals and families with low incomesa do not have enough money to pay for their basic needs including shelter and healthy food (Appendix 1).
- Food insecurity is a serious public health concern because of its relationship with poor nutrition and negative physical and mental health effects among both adults and children. Improved incomes are the most important response to food insecurity. Having economic and physical access to healthy food is vital to eating well, which in turn, plays a major role in an individual’s health at any stage of life.
- The findings of this report highlight the need to educate the public on the root issue of food insecurity and for public health to continue to work with community partners to advocate for adequate incomes for families and individuals that allow them to buy nutritious food.
The Ontario Public Health Standards, 2008, requires Boards of Health to monitor food affordability in accordance with the NFB guidance document.1 The NFB is a survey tool that is a measure of the cost of basic healthy eating that represents current nutrition recommendations and average food purchasing patterns. It is used to monitor food availability and accessibility by relating the cost of the food basket to the individual/family income. When housing costs and other basic living expenses are considered, many individuals and
families with a limited income do not have adequate funds to purchase nutritious food on a consistent basis. The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as: “when all people at
all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.2
Food insecurity, at the household level, refers to “inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints”.3 Food insecurity is associated with inadequate intake of
key nutrients as well as a variety of negative physical and mental health outcomes in adults and children.4 Individuals who are food insecure are more likely to have lifestyle related chronic
diseases.5, 6, 7 Overweight and weight gain have been especially observed among women from marginal and low food security households.4 Social exclusion, distress, depression and suicide
ideation are examples of the psychological and social consequences that can be experienced with household food insecurity in adults.8-10
a For the purposes of this report “low incomes” refer to the case scenario spreadsheet appendix 1 in which households spend a significantly higher proportion of their income on shelter and food compared to average Ontario family income. Research has shown that food insecurity influences parenting. Specifically food insecurity can influence depression in parents which may act as a stressor on parenting behaviour, playing a possible role in problematic child health outcomes. This research suggests that food insecurity influences parenting practices including infant feeding practices which indirectly influence children’s overweight status.11 Food insecurity has also been linked to developmental consequences in girls and boys. Girls who were food insecure were linked with impaired development of social skills and reading performance.12
In addition to the negative health outcomes associated with being food insecure, it is also important to highlight the challenges and barriers that residents identified when attempting to
access food assistance programs in Wellington-Dufferin and Guelph. These challenges and barriers include unreasonable eligibility requirements, feeling emotionally distressed having to
seek out food from a food bank, experiencing feelings of stigmatization while accessing services and having difficulty accessing information about food assistance programs. Those working
with limited incomes have an additional challenge of accessing a food bank when they work irregular hours.13
The NFB survey was conducted in May 2016 by a WDGPH Public Health Nutritionist. Food pricing in seven grocery stores including chain and independent stores across WDG was assessed as instructed in the updated Protocol. Case scenarios were created to compare income and expenses for the purchase of food and rental housing for families and individuals in a variety of settings (Appendix 1). The cost of housing is the largest expense for most low income residents. Housing is considered affordable if it costs less than 30% of household income.14 Six out of the seven scenarios in Appendix 1 demonstrate that the percentage of income spent on rent is much higher than 30%. In fact these six scenarios show a range of 39-92% of income being spent on rent alone. The single person on Ontario Works (OW) fares the worst as 92% of their income may go to rent leaving insufficient money (8% of income) left over to purchase food and cover other basic expenses.
According to the income scenarios (Appendix 1), after paying for rent, a single person on OW would require an extra 40% of their income to afford healthy food excluding other basic living expenses. Statistics available indicate that the average number of monthly Ontario Works cases has increased in Wellington-Dufferin Guelph from 2008 to 2015 (Appendix 2).15,16,17
Another concerning trend that has been observed in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph is the number of individuals accessing local food banks. According to the Ontario Food Bank Association (OAFB) there has also been a 74% increase in food bank usage from 2008 (Appendix 2).18
Caution needs to be taken when comparing years as the number of member agencies of the OAFB can vary year to year. There are 38 agencies providing some type of emergency food service within our region and many of them are not members of the OAFB.19 This makes it difficult to document an accurate picture of emergency food service trends and statistics.
Despite these limitations and gaps, it is important to highlight the fact that our community has a large number of agencies (38) providing some type of emergency food service in an attempt to meet the local needs in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.19
The measurement and monitoring of food insecurity in Canada focuses on a household’s experience of inadequate or insecure access to adequate food due to financial constraints.20 Food insecurity can be measured at marginal, moderate, and severe levels.
b The 2014 Household Food Insecurity in Canada report provides statistics of the prevalence of household food insecurity for various metropolitan areas including Guelph. This report revealed that in 2013-2014 year, 13.2% of households in Guelph experienced food insecurity at either the marginal, moderate and severe levels.20 In comparison, Ontario’s household food insecurity rate in 2014 was 11.9 % (2.8% severe food insecurity, 4.8% moderate food insecurity, 4.2% marginal food insecurity).20 Consequently, it is critical that the effectiveness of local food-based program that are used to address food insecurity (e.g. food banks, food pantries, community gardens, community kitchens, “good food box” programs) be evaluated in order to establish evidence-based action on food insecurity at a local level. Local, provincial and federal governments should continue to address food insecurity with a focus on income-based solutions rather than on food-based solutions since food insecurity is rooted in poverty. This will require system changes through policies to support income adequacy and address the factors that limit food purchasing.21,22
Food insecurity is a major public health issue as there are numerous impacts on physical, mental and social health associated with being food insecure. Families with lower incomesc are at a higher risk of being food insecure because the root issue is poverty. Charitable food programs has been the traditional response to this issue but these support services do not address the root issue of insignificant income to afford food. Solutions must be income focused. Public Health can be a credible advocate for the most important response to food insecurity and advocate for income based solutions and help ensure that all households in WDG avoid being food insecure by having enough financial resources to purchase food. The findings presented in this report highlight the need for Public Health to continue to work collaboratively with local and provincial advocacy groups such as the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination (Poverty Task Force), the Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health’s Food Security Work Group and Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance (Appendix 3).
b Marginal Food Insecurity: Worry about running out of food and/or limit food selection because of lack of money for food. Moderate Food Insecurity: Compromise in quality and/or quantity of food due to a lack of money for food. Severe Food Insecurity: Miss meals, reduce food intake and at the most extreme go day(s) without food.21
c For the purposes of this report “lower incomes” refers to the case scenario spreadsheet appendix 1 in which households spend a significantly higher proportion of their income on shelter and food compared to average Ontario family income.
Ontario Public Health Standards
CD #1. The board of health shall conduct epidemiological analysis of surveillance data, including monitoring of trends over time, emerging trends, and priority populations, in accordance with the Population Health Assessment and Surveillance Protocol, 2008 (or as current), in the areas of healthy eating.
CD #2. The board of health shall monitor food affordability in accordance with the Nutritious Food Basket Protocol, 2008 (or as current) and the Population Health Assessment and Surveillance Protocol, 2008 (or as current).
CD #7. The board of health shall increase the capacity of community partners to coordinate and develop regional/local programs and services related to healthy eating, including communitybased food activities.
CD #11: The BOH shall increase public awareness in the area of healthy eating.
CD #12. The board of health shall provide advice and information to link people to community programs and services in the area of healthy eating.
WDGPH Strategic Directions
|Health Equity: We will provide programs and services that integrate health equity principles to reduce or eliminate health differences between population groups.||YES|
|Organizational Capacity: We will improve our capacity to effectively deliver public health programs and services.||NO|
|Service Centred Approach: We are committed to providing excellent service to anyone interacting with Public Health.||NO|
|Building Healthy Communities: We will work with communities to support the health and well-being of everyone.||YES|
Income is one of the most influential social determinants of health. The root issue of food insecurity is a lack of financial resources to buy food. As previously discussed, food insecurity contributes to health inequities. For example, individuals in food insufficient households are more likely to report poor general health, major depression and distress, and multiple chronic conditions including more heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and food allergies.23
There is growing evidence that families who cannot afford to buy adequate amounts of nutritious food respond by buying and consuming more energy-dense, nutrient-poor food products (fats, sweets and snacks), and that this is contributing to the rising incidence of obesity.24,25 Furthermore, food insecurity can create inequities because food insecure households do not have the same opportunity to have ownership over their personal food purchases. These households are often dependent on services that supply charitable food. There are also barriers when accessing these services including limited options for religious, nutritional or health–related dietary needs.26
Appendix “1” - May 2016 – Nutritious Food Basket Income Scenarios
Appendix “2” - Expansion of the analysis/rationale
Appendix “3” - Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Nutritious Food Basket Infographic
1. Ministry of Health Promotion. Nutritious food basket guidance document [Internet]. 2010 p. 1-49. [cited 13 August 2015]. Available from: http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca/en/healthycommunities/public-health/guidance-do…
2. World Health Organization | Food Security [Internet]. 2015 [cited 17 July 2015]. Available from: http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story028/en/
3. Tarasuk V, Mitchell A, Dachner N. Household food insecurity in Canada 2012. Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). 2014. Available from:
4. Holben D, American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: food insecurity in the United States. - PubMed - NCBI [Internet]. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2010 [cited 17July 2015]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20821887
5. Kirkpatrick S. Food insecurity is associated with nutrient inadequacies among Canadian adults and adolescents. J Nutr. 2010;138:604-612.
6. Vogt J, Tarasuk V. Analysis of the Ontario sample in Cycle 2.2 of the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2004 [Internet]. 2007. [cited 13 August 2015]. Available from:
7. Eicher-Miller H, Mason A, Weaver C, McCabe G, Boushey C. Food insecurity is associated with diet and bone mass disparities in early adolescent males but not females in the United States. J Nutr. 2011;141(9):1738-1745.
8. Nutritionalsciences.lamp.utoronto.ca. Lived experience of food insecurity | PROOF [Internet]. 2015 [cited 28 July 2015]. Available from:
9. Statistics Canada. Household food insecurity, 2011-2012 [Internet]. 2013 [cited 17 July 2015]. Available from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2013001/article/11889-eng.htm
10. Davison K, Marshall-Gabien G, Tecson A. Association of moderate and severe food insecurity with suicidal ideation in adults: national survey data from three Canadian
provinces. Soc Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2015; 60(6):963-972.
11. Bronte-Tinkew J, Zaslow M, Capps R, Horowitz A, McNamara M. Food insecurity works through depression, parenting, and infant feeding to influence overweight and health in toddlers. J Nutr. 2007;137(9):2160-2165.
12. Jyoti D, Frongillo E, Jones S. Food insecurity affects school children’s academic performance, weight gain, and social skills. J Nutr. 2005;135:2831-2839.
13. Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES). The community researcher project: Exploring economic hardship in Guelph and Wellington [Internet]. 2010.[cited 13 August 2015]. Available from: http://www.theresearchshop.ca/sites/default/files/The%20Community%20Rese…
14. Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. About affordable housing in Canada | CMHC [Internet]. 2015 [cited 17 July 2015]. Available from: http://www.cmhcschl.
15. Sabatini, R. Request for stats [Internet]. Message to: Lisa Needham 2016 April 26. [cited 2016 July 22].
16. Krepps K. Resquest for stats [Internet]. Message to: Lisa Needham 2016 April 26. [cited 2016 July 22].
17. Handler D. 2008-2012 OW caseload, Dufferin Count [Internet]. Message to: Lisa Needham 2012 July 30. [cited 2015 July 21].
18. Larose, A. FW: 2015 Data by Food Banks [Internet]. Message to: Lisa Needham 2016 March 17. [cited 2016 August 26].
19. Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination. Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin food access guide [Internet]. 2013. [cited 13 August 2015] Available from: http://gwpoverty.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2013/12/Food-Access-Guide-2013-Upd….
20. Tarasuk V, Mitchell A, Dashner N. Household food insecurity in Canada [Internet]. 2014. [cited 22 July 2016]. Available from: http://proof.utoronto.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2016/04/Household-Food-Insecu…
21. Kirkpatrick S, Tarasuk V. Adequacy of food spending is related to housing expenditures among lower-income Canadian Households. Public Health Nutr. 2007;10(12):1664-1473.
22. Kirkpatrick S, Tarasuk V. Assessing the relevance of neighbourhood characteristics to the household food security of low-income families. Public Health Nutr. 2010;13(7):1139-1148.
23. Vozoris N, Tarasuk V. Household food insufficiency is associated with poorer health. J Nutr. 2003;133:120-126.
24. Kerstetter S, Goldber M. A review of policy options for increasing food security and income security in British Columbia: A discussion paper. 2007.
25. Monsivais P, Drewnowski A. The rising cost of low-energy density foods. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:2071-2076.
26. Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH). Position Statement on responses to food Insecurity [Internet]. osnpph.on.ca 2016 [cited 26 August 2016]. Availablefrom: https://www.osnpph.on.ca/
|Scenario 1||Scenario 2||Scenario 3||Scenario 4||Scenario 5||Scenario 6||Scenario 7|
|Family of Four,
|Family of Four, Full-
Wage Earner m
|Family of Four,
(after tax) n
with 2 Children,
Household, Old Age
|Income from Employment||$1,950.00||$7,841.00|
|Basic Allowance b||$468.00||$342.00||$305.00||$631.00|
|Maximum Shelter Allowance||$718.00||$662.00||$376.00||$479.00|
|Old Age Security/Guaranteed
Income Supplement c
|Ontario Guaranteed Annual
Income System d
|Canada Child Tax Benefit e||$826.00||$815.00||$114.00||$826.00|
|GST/HST credit f||$69.00||$69.00||$69.00||$23.00||$30.00||$35.00|
|Ontario Trillium Benefit g||$146.00||$146.00||$117.00||$64.00||$66.00||$101.00|
|Working Income Tax Benefit h||$78.00|
|Employment Insurance paid i||$(36.00)||$(143.00)|
|Canada Pension Plan paid j||$(82.00)||$(364.00)|
|(3 Bdr.)||(3 Bdr.)||(3 Bdr.)||(2 Bdr.)||(Bachelor)||(1 Bdr.) o||(1 Bdr.)|
|Average Monthly Rent (may or
may not include heat/hydro) k
|Total Selected Expenses||$2,079.78||$2,079.78||$2,079.78||$1,721.19||$1,016.37||$1,208.37||$1,121.69|
|Funds Remaining (for other
basic needs e.g. telephone,
transportation, child care, etc.)
|Percentage of income required
|Percentage of income required
to purchase healthy food
Note: All dollars rounded to nearest whole number.
Scenario 1 - 2 adults (male and female ages 31-50), 2 children (girl age 8, boy age 14); Ontario Works (OW).
Scenario 2 - 2 adults (male and female ages 31-50), 2 children (girl age 8, boy age 14); income is based on one minimum wage earner, 40hr/wk, $11.25/hr (minimum wage in May 2016).
Scenario 3 - 2 adults (male and female ages 31-50), 2 children (girl age 8, boy age 14).
NOTE: Income from employment is based on median after-tax income- two-parent families with children; however, EI and CPP contributions are calculated using median total income-two-parent
families with children, two earners. Assumption of a dual income family with a split of 65% / 35% between partners.
Scenario 4 - 1 adult (female age 31-50), 2 children (girl age 8, boy age 14); Ontario Works.
Scenario 5 - 1 adult (male age 31-50); Ontario Works.
Scenario 6 - 1 adult (male age 31-50); Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
Scenario 7 - 1 adult (female age 70+); income based on Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement (OAS/GIS).
a- Due to the Northern Ontario Energy Credit portion of the Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB), this worksheet is applicable for Ontario excluding the districts of Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury (including the City of Greater Sudbury), Thunder Bay, and Timiskaming.
b - Basic and maximum shelter allowance. OW rates effective November, 2015 and Ontario Disability Support Payment (ODSP) rates effective October, 2015. Source: Social Assistance, Pension and Tax Credit Rates April to June 2016, Ministry of Community and Social Services. http://www.communitylegalcentre.ca/legal_information/Tips/IM/SA-pension-… (accessedJuly 25, 2016).
c - Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement (OAS/GIS) rates. Source: Social Assistance, Pension and Tax Credit Rates April to June 2016, Ministry of Community and Social Services. http://www.communitylegalcentre.ca/legal_information/Tips/IM/SA-pension-… (accessed July 25, 2016).
d - Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) rates. Source: Social Assistance, Pension and Tax Credit Rates April to June 2016, Ministry of Community and Social Services. http://www.communitylegalcentre.ca/legal_information/Tips/IM/SA-pension-… (accessed July 25, 2016).
e - Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) includes Basic monthly amount, National Child Benefit Supplement monthly amount, and Ontario Child Benefit monthly amount. Effective July 2014 to June 2015. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/menu-eng.html (accessed September 13, 2016).
f - Based on net annual income. GST/HST is issued on a quarterly basis, but calculated on a monthly basis. Figures derived from GST/HST and related provincial programs calculator. Effective July 2014 to June 2015. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/menu-eng.html (accessed September 13, 2016).
g - Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB) includes Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, the Northern Ontario Energy Credit, and Ontario Sales Tax Credit. Based on average apartment rental rates for Ontario (see k) and net annual income. Ontario Trillium Benefit is issued on a monthly basis. Figures derived from Ontario Trillium Benefit and related provincial programs calculator. Effective July 2014 to June 2015. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/menu-eng.html (accessed September 13, 2016).
h - Reference: Working Income Tax Benefit Online Calculator . http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/menu-eng.html (accessed July 25, 2016).
i - Reference: Employment Insurance Premium Rates.http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/menu-eng.html (accessed July 25, 2016).
j - Reference: Canada Pension Plan. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/menu-eng.html (accessed July 25, 2016).
k - Rental costs calculations are from the Rental Market Report: Ontario Highlights. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Fall 2015. Some communities may need to add utility costs. https://www03.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/catalog/productDetail.cfm?lang=en&cat=102&… (accessed July 22, 2016).
l - Reference: Nutritious Food Basket Data Results 2016 for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health - Includes Family size adjustment factors.
m - Reference: Minimum wage. http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pubs/guide/minwage.php (accessed July 29, 2015).
n - Source: Statistics Canada. Average income after tax by economic family types (2007 to 2011). http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/famil21a-eng.htm (accessed July 25, 2016).
o- Housing for Scenario 6 was changed from a Bachelor apartment in 2010 to 1-bedroom in 2011. This change reflects a more accurate housing need for persons with a disability. This change will need to be recognized when attempting to compare year over year results.
For information purposes and internal use only.
Table adapted from Ministry of Health Promotion. (2010). Nutritious food basket guidance document. Retrieved from http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca/en/healthy-communities/public-health/guidancedo…
Expansion on the Analysis/Rationale
A: 2016 NFB Costs in WDG
In 2016, an average family of four, (a man and woman each aged 31 to 50 years; a boy, 14 to 18 years of age; and a girl, four to eight year old) living in WDG needs $212.44 a week to buy the quantity of basic foods in the NFB, to meet minimum nutrition recommendations. In 2016, the WDG NFB costs have increased 1% since 2015. From 2009 until 2016 the nutritious food basket for a reference family of four has increased 26%.
“The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is an indicator of changes in consumer prices experienced by Canadians. It is obtained by comparing, over time, the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers.”1 The consumer price index rose 1.5% in the 12 months leading up to 2016. The consumer price index for food rose 1.3% and shelter rose 1.6% in the 12 months leading up to June 2016.2
The cost of housing is the largest expense for most low income residents. Housing is considered affordable if it costs less than 30% of household income.3 All of the scenarios (6 out of 7) that rely on social assistance or minimum wage jobs for income in Appendix 1 demonstrate that the percentage of income spent on rent is much higher than 30%. In fact these six scenarios show a range of 39-92% of income being spent on rent alone. The average monthly rental cost for a three-bedroom apartment in Guelph, was $1160 in fall 2015 yet the maximum monthly shelter allowance for OW is only $718.00 for a family of four.4,5 This example demonstrates a potential shortfall of $442 for shelter allowance.
C: Emergency Food Provision
There is a strong link between low income, food insecurity and higher risk of negative health outcomes. Many Canadians are food insecure. In March 2015, 852,137 Canadians accessed a food bank during this month. This number is 1% higher than in March 2014. The number of people served is 26% above levels experienced before the 2008 before the recession began. In Ontario, 358,963 people were assisted at a food bank in March 2015. There has been a 14% increase in the number of people assisted by a food
bank in Ontario since 2008. Of this group, 34% were under the age of 18.6
According to the 2013 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Food Access Guide, there are 38 agencies or organizations that provide emergency food programs and 11 that provide meal programs in Wellington- Dufferin-Guelph areas.7 This is a significant amount of emergency food programs and reduced cost food services to meet local needs. There has also been a 74% increase in food bank usage from 2008 to 2015 as demonstrated in Chart 1 below. Note that Chart 1 only includes food banks that are part of the Ontario
Food Bank Association. This does not include emergency food services that are not members of this association and therefore does not represent data from all emergency food services in WDG and underestimates how much emergency food service are accessed in the WDG region. Caution also needs to be taking comparing years as the number of member agencies of the Ontario food Bank Association can vary year to year. 8
Data Table for Chart 1 figure:
|People served by food banks in WDG|
The Guelph Food Bank reported that in 2015 they served 26,896 individuals through the hamper and excess food program. This is a 10% increase in the number of individuals served in 2014. Sixty-seven percent of those were adults and 33% of those were children. Over 1,195,297 lbs of food was distributed in 2015 to GFB clients, local agencies, pantries and neighbouring food banks.9,10 The Grand Valley food bank stats show that volume of calls for food bank assistance has increased three times from 2007 until 2015.11
D: Social Assistance
The trends in OW rates for the City of Guelph, Wellington County and Dufferin County demonstrate overall increase in OW rates. More specifically, statistics available for the Guelph-Wellington area indicate that the average number of monthly OW cases has increased 72% from 2007 to 2015 12,13 There has been overall increase of 53% in Dufferin County’s average monthly OW cases since 2008. 14,15
The overall increases in OW rates in WDG demonstrate a continued cause for concern. Approximately 70% percent of social assistance recipients are food insecure in Ontario.16 Researchers have noted that the very high levels of food insecurity especially the severe level of food insecurity among social assistance recipients suggest that the current charitable food assistance offered is not enough to compensate for the inadequacy of social assistance benefits. The authors state that the “continued delivery of welfare programs that provide recipients with insufficient resources to meet their basic food needs on an ongoing basis is deleterious to their health and wellbeing.”17
E: Extent of Low Income in WDG Low Income Cut Offs (LICOs) represent levels of income where individuals and families are expected to spend approximately 20 percentage points more than the average family on food, shelter and clothing. It was estimated that in all of Wellington County (including Guelph), 8.7% of all individuals; 9.4% of women and 9.6% of children 18 years of age or younger are living below the LICO.13 Overall in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph area, 6.1% of all economic families can be classified as low income. This is lower than the provincial average 11.1%. Although lower than the provincial average, this remains an important group to target for programs and policies.14
1. Statistics Canada. Consumer Price Index (CPI) [Internet]. 2015 [cited 20 July 2015]. Available from: http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl Function=getSurvey&SDDS=2301&lang=en&db=imdb&adm=8&dis=2
2. Statistics Canada. Consumer Price Index, by province (monthly) (Canada) [Internet]. 2016 [cited 22 July 2016]. Available from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/cpis08aeng.
3. Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Housing in Canada online - Definitions | CMHC [Internet]. 2016 [cited 26 August 2016]. Available from: http://cmhc.beyond2020.com/HiCODefinitions_EN.html
4. Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Housing market information portal [Internet]. 2016 [cited 22 July 2016]. Available from: https://www03.cmhcschl.
5. Ministry of Community and Social Services. Social Assistance, Pension and Tax Credits. 2016.
6. Food Banks Canada. Hunger count 2015 [Internet]. 2016. [cited 29 June 2016] Available from: http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/HungerCount.
7. Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination. Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin food access guide [Internet]. 2013. [cited 13 August 2015] Available from: http://gwpoverty.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2013/12/Food-Access-Guide-2013-Upd…
8. Larose, A. FW: 2015 Data by Food Banks [Internet]. Message to: Lisa Needham 2016 March 17. [cited 2016 August 26].
9. Marchesich T. Request for statistics [Internet]. E-mail to: Lisa Needham. 2016 April 27 [cited 2016 June 2.]
10. Marchesich T. Request for statistics [Internet]. E-mail to: Lisa Needham. 2015 June 17 [cited 2015 July 20].
11. Jonker C. Request for stats for Concern Food Bank [Internet]. Message to: Lisa Needham. 2016 April 26 [cited 2016 June 29].
12. Krepps K. Resquest for stats [Internet]. Message to: Lisa Needham 2016 April 26. [cited 2016 July 22].
13. Handler D. 2008-2012 OW caseload, Dufferin Count [Internet]. Message to: Lisa Needham 2012 July 30. [cited 2015 July 21]
14. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. Community picture: health status of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph report. [Internet]. 2012. [cited 13 August 2015] Available from:
15. McIntyre L, Bartoo A, Herbert Emery J. When working is not enough: food insecurity in the Canadian labour force. Public Health Nutr. 2012;17:49-57.
16. Tarasuk V, Mitchell A, Dashner N. Household food insecurity in Canada [Internet]. 2014. [cited 22 July 2016]. Available from: http://proof.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Household-Food-Insec…
17. Tarasuk V, Dachner N, Loopstra R. Food banks, welfare and food insecurity in Canada. Brit Food J. 2014;116(9): 1405-1417.