Our Submission to the 2023 Federal Budget
The Federal government has distinguished itself through a deep commitment to providing opportunity for all Canadians by addressing systemic issues like poverty and affordability. Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy has led to considerable progress towards achieving its goal to reduce poverty by 50% by 2030. The federal government has also made significant policy and program commitments to advance affordable housing, committed to achieving the goal of “zero hunger” through the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmenti in 2015, and launched the Food Policy for Canada in 2019 with the vision that “all Canadians can reliably access a sufficient amount of safe, nutritious and culturally diverse food”ii.
Yet, the unprecedented inflationary pressures that were a constant in 2022 and a defining feature in the early months of 2023 have dramatically affected the ability of individuals and households to afford basic necessities. There is an overwhelming consensus among Canadians that governments should do more than they are currently doing to help people in poverty and hungeriii. The time is now for the Federal government to take action on food insecurity.
Here is our submission to the federal government.
Food and shelter are the fundamentals of life and every good thing we want to achieve as a society depends on these basic needs being met. Canada is one of the most affluent nations in the world, yet food insecurity continues to be pervasive and significant, and the problem has not improved since Canada began tracking food insecurity in the early 2000siv.
Some groups are more likely to experience food insecurity than others and experience intersectional risk factors v; for example, Indigenous and Black households in Canada are disproportionately affected, as are single-parent households, women, and people who rent rather than own their dwelling vi, vii. People with disabilities are especially vulnerable to food insecurity due to the the added cost of living and presence of physical barriers – over 41% of people with incomes below the poverty line have a disability viii and 50% of people living in food insecure households in Canada, over the age of 15, have some form of disability ix.
As a national charity committed to working collaboratively across sectors to reduce food insecurity in Canada, the Centre is recommending policy solutions that advance the capacity of people and communities to increase access to good food and reduce food insecurity. Food charity and emergency food relief will not solve food insecurity. We need concerted, focused and timely action that yields concrete outcomes.
Recommendation 1 – Set a target to reduce food insecurity
Given the economic, health, racial and social dimensions of food insecurity, lasting change will only be possible with a whole-of-government approach and a clear mandate to eliminate the structural barriers to food security. A target has broad support from Canada’s largest leading national food insecurity organizations including Food Banks Canada and Community Food Centres Canada. We recommend the following commitments and actions be taken:
- That a 50% reduction in food insecurity by 2030 be included as an outcome of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Rates of food insecurity are currently included as a key indicator in the Poverty Reduction dashboard.
- That this target includes the eradication of severe food insecurity, aligned with Canada’s SDG commitment to end hunger, and alleviating the disproportionate impact on Black and Indigenous people, who suffer rates of food insecurity up to 3.5 times the national average.
- That an interdepartmental working group be established to develop a roadmap to achieve this target, with representation from Employment and Social Development Canada, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Health Canada, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, key stakeholder organizations representing Indigenous and Black peoples, and the Poverty and Canadian Food Policy Advisory Councils.
Recommendation 2 – Fast-track implementation of the Canada Disability Benefit
Immediate action is needed to help lift people with disabilities out of poverty. The Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) will give people with disabilities the ability to meet their basic needs, preserve their independence and increase their contribution to society and the economy. We recommend the following commitments and actions be taken:
- Fast-track the design and implementation of the Canada Disability Benefit to provide a disability income support system that:
- Is based on the income of individuals (versus the income of families)
- Raises the income of people with disabilities above the poverty line
- Stacks on top of existing disability benefits (e.g., CPP – Disability, Veteran’s Disability Benefits, Worker’s Compensation, EI-Sickness, private insurance and other disability support programs), and
- Is indexed to the cost of living
- There should be substantive involvement and co-design, not simply consultation, with the disability community to detail the design and implementation of the CDB.
Recommendation 3 – Execute a national school food program
Canada is the only G7 country without a national school food program. While providing food for children in schools will not reduce food insecurity and should not replace policies that ensure adequate income, there is evidence that school food programs can improve children’s ability to learn, thrive socially, and succeed at school. We strongly support the implementation of a universal school food program that provides a foundation for all children to thrive.
Develop and execute a universal school food program with national scope that builds on existing programs across the country on a cost-share basis.
i Employment and Social Development Canada. (2019, July 15). Towards Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy. Canada.ca. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/agenda-2030/national-strategy.html
ii Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. (Nov 17, 2020). The Food Policy for Canada. Canada.ca. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://agriculture.canada.ca/en/department/initiatives/food-policy/food-policy-canada
iii Poverty in Canada: Most say governments are doing too little, but disagree on what should be done. (2018, August 1). In Angus Reid Institute. Angus Reid Institute. Retrieved October 1, 2022, from http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2018.07.04-poverty-part-2.pdf
iv PROOF. (2022, September 24). How many Canadians are affected by household food insecurity? Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://proof.utoronto.ca/food-insecurity/how-many-canadians-are-affected-by-household-food-insecurity/
v Sol, A. (2022, September 13). Intersections of Ableism and Racism. Disability Without Poverty. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from
vi Matheson, J. (n.d.). Women respondents report higher household food insecurity than do men in similar Canadian households | Public Health Nutrition. Cambridge Core. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/women-respondents-report-higherhousehold-food-insecurity-than-do-men-in-similar-canadian-households/9631FC916D01D0D8CDB635A0ED280A41
vii Determinants of Food Insecurity in Higher-Income Households in Canada. (n.d.). Taylor & Francis. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19320248.2014.908450
viii Statistics Canada, Centre for Income and Socioeconomic Well-being Statistics, Canadian Income Survey. Custom Report, Table C1010445. August 12, 2022.
ix Low income among persons with a disability in Canada. (2017, August). Statistics Canada. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from
March 16, 2023