We can stop hunger in Toronto

Posted on in Social Security Debates

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorials – The 2015 annual Daily Bread Food Bank report paints a picture of poverty in Toronto that sees people — including children — going without food. It’s got to stop.
Sep 22 2015.   Editorial

Imagine trying to feed and clothe yourself on $6.67 a day. Going without food for an entire day. Or watching your children go hungry at least once a week.

It may sound impossible that such things happen in Toronto and its “inner suburbs” of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. But it is in fact all too common for the people who use the Daily Bread Food Bank in those neighbourhoods.

It’s got to stop. Our elected representatives have the means to ensure that people don’t go hungry.

Ontario could increase payments for those on the Ontario Works and Ontario Disability programs to reflect rising rents that are impoverishing people to the point they can’t afford to eat. The city, province and federal governments could create more subsidized housing. Ottawa could make it easier to access Employment Insurance. And poverty reduction could be top of the agenda in the federal election campaign instead of where it is: invisible.

Indeed, perhaps federal politicians would focus more on poverty and less on tax credits for those who already have enough if the food bank’s 2015 annual report on hunger in the city was required reading. It paints a clear and distressing picture of poverty through the eyes of the 1,000 clients it interviewed.

Consider its findings:
– The average monthly income for people using the food bank is $763. Of that, 71 per cent goes to rent and utilities, leaving people with $6.67 per day for food and other necessities.
– Thirty-five per cent of respondents said they had not eaten for an entire day.
– Sixteen per cent said their children went hungry at least once a week.
– And 32 per cent of food bank clients are children.

Sadly, the situation is becoming worse. Food bank visits were up to almost 897,000 in 2014 in Toronto. That’s a 12-per-cent increase since the 2008 recession. And since then the median length of time people are dependent on the food bank has doubled, from one year to two.

That reflects a trend since the recession away from full-time jobs with benefits to precarious part-time, casual work. At the same time, the federal government has made it tougher to access Employment Insurance.

Most surprising in the report are the profiles of those who are hungry. Their stories range from a disabled man to an internationally trained professional with a doctorate in economics. Indeed, a full 37 per cent of those using the food bank have a college diploma or university degree.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Governments have the means to solve the problem by creating jobs, providing skills training, and increasing the social assistance aids necessary to pull people out of poverty
All it takes is the political will. Should their priority during this federal election campaign be a tax credit for kids’ hockey equipment or a way out of poverty for those who depend on food banks?

One thing is clear: No one in Toronto should be going hungry.

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2015/09/22/we-can-stop-hunger-in-toronto-editorial.html >

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015 at 7:29 pm and is filed under Social Security Debates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “We can stop hunger in Toronto”

  1. Kimberly says:

    I completely agree that no one in Toronto should go hungry. Being able to eat is a basic necessity that we should not be deprived of. But why is it that many people of this day and age are still able to go starving and not afford to eat. I was shocked to see that fixing the poverty phenomenon is basically invisible to the federal election campaign. The people are barely surviving and the federal government is turning the other cheek? For what purpose, a tax credit for kids’ sports equipment? Why are the prioritizing that over the people who are striving to survive?

    In this article, it says that 37% of people who are using the food bank have their college diploma or a university degree. If these people are fully capable of maintaining a steady job but are still able to go hungry wouldn’t that say something about our government? The article says that the government has intentions to solve the poverty problems by creating jobs, providing skills training, and increasing the social assistance aids. Meanwhile,the food bank visits were up to approximately 897, 000 in 2014 alone in just Toronto. That’s a 12-per-cent increase since the 2008 recession. Where are these skill training programs they offered? Why is the poverty rate still increasing if the federal government had plans to provide programs for those who are in need.

    In the article it basically states that our federal government is fully capable to pull their people out of poverty, yet here we are. It continues to say is that all it takes is political will. Why are they not willing to help their people? Where are their priorities going to?

    The social welfare programs do as much as they can to help these people but without the assistance of the government people will continue to live off of $6.67. There is a difference between living to simply survive and living to a certain extent of quality. People who are living off of $6.67 on necessities alone are not living life with quality.

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