Hunger Inquiry Expert Panel’s Top Ten Recommendations…

Posted on December 21, 2010 in Inclusion Debates

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RecessionReliefCoalition – – Hunger Inquiry Expert Panel’s Top Ten Recommendations For Addressing Hunger In Toronto
December 21, 2010.

Hunger Inquiry panelists Joshna Maharaj (Chef and Food Activist), Bruce McLeod (former Moderator of the United Church of Canada), Jim Stanford (Economist, Canadian Auto Workers), Gary Bloch (Family Doctor, St. Michael’s Hospital), Linda Chamberlain (Dream Team), and Toni Panzuto (Baby and Toddler Nutrition Program Facilitator, FoodShare), have released the   following Top 10 Recommendations to address the dire situation illuminated through the the Recession Relief Coalition’s Hunger Inquiry, held at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto on November 23, 2010.

The panelists were asked to examine the current state of hunger in Toronto and seek consensus recommendations for addressing hunger in the city.    More than 30 expert witnesses–front line workers, social service agency staff, academics, community leaders, and people directly affected by hunger–provided testimony during the Hunger Inquiry to Inquiry panelists attesting to Toronto’s worsening hunger problem.  These recommendations address themes that emerged from witness’ presentations throughout the day and are directed at all Canadian governments, communities and businesses in recognition that all have a part to play in ensuring that people in Canada do  not have to struggle to meet a basic human need: the need for food.

Raise incomes and invest in income security programs.

  1. Businesses and other employers pay a living wage to all employees to ensure people working full-time can afford good nutritious food, access to adequate housing and other essentials of living a life with dignity.
  2. The Ontario Government immediately implement a substantial (and long overdue) increase to social assistance rates.

  3. The Federal Government provide additional access to Employment Insurance beyond the normal 50 week maximum until such time as the recession ends and unemployment rates decline; lower the threshold of eligibility to 360 hours, calculating the benefit as 60% of the best 12 weeks of earnings; and change the threshold for earnings clawbacks to allow people to keep more of their earned income while receiving benefits so that they are able to lift themselves out of poverty.

  4. The Ontario Government maintain the Special Diet Allowance at current levels of funding or higher and do not withdraw this support.  Ensure the dignity of Special Diet Allowance recipients is not threatened by requirements to reveal medical information to non-medical professionals.  A new program should be focused on both treatment and prevention of disease, and must ensure adequate funds to meet the real demand for good nutritious food required to meet the special dietary needs of people receiving their incomes from social assistance in the Province of Ontario.

    Increase access to adequate, affordable housing.

  5. Federal Members of Parliament vote in support of Bill C-304, a bill for a National Housing Strategy that will bring all levels of government together to enact a plan to increase safe, affordable housing across Canada.

    Improve access to, and quality of, emergency community food programs.

  6. Food banks remove restrictions to access based on postal code, number of previous visits and presentation of identification.

    Recognize poverty and hunger as major risk factors for incidence and morbidity of physical and mental health issues.

  7. Policy-makers at all levels of government include health outcomes as a measurement of the impact of social policy decisions.

  8. Policy-makers at all levels of government consider the long-term cost to the health system of not addressing poverty and hunger now.

    Consider access to good, nutritious food in community and urban planning.

  9. All levels of government and funders invest in community-based organizations to create community food hubs providing good, nutritious food and community cooking opportunities.

    Respect human dignity when addressing the elimination of hunger.

  10. Governments and community-based organizations reject charity as the means by which hunger is addressed and see access to food as a basic human right to be addressed through public social programs.

For more information about the Hunger Inquiry, please click here.

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