Food Insecurity Measurement in Canada: Interpreting the Statistics

CDPAC Webinar #1


Food insecurity – the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints – is increasingly recognized as a serious public health problem. Since 2005, household food insecurity has been systematically monitored in Canada through the Canadian Community Health Survey run by Statistics Canada.

The growing use of these data by public health, community agencies, research centres, and social policy groups has been critical in building awareness and understanding of the problem of food insecurity. However, inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the reporting of data on food insecurity mask the scale and severity of this problem. The accurate and effective use of Canada’s monitoring data hinges on a clear understanding of what exactly is being measured on the Canadian Community Health Survey, what it means, and how to interpret the food insecurity statistics available on Statistics Canada’s website (CANSIM). Anyone interested in using food insecurity statistics or learning about how food insecurity is monitored in Canada is encouraged to view this webinar.


  • Valerie Tarasuk, PhD – Professor at University of Toronto and principal investigator of PROOF
  • Suzanne Galesloot, MSA, RD – Public Health Nutrition Provincial Lead at Alberta Health Services
  • Tracy Woloshyn, RD – Public Health Nutritionist at York Region Public Health


Webinar Slides [PDF]

PROOF Annual Reports

PROOF Factsheets

Food security: An argument for poverty reduction (Video)

OSNPPH Position Statement on Responses to Food Insecurity [PDF] [French version]

Income-Related Policy Recommendations to Address Food Insecurity (OSNPPH)

Cox, J., Hamelin, A. M., McLinden, T., Moodie, E. E., Anema, A., Rollet-Kurhajec, K. C., … & Canadian Co-infection Cohort Investigators. (2016). Food insecurity in HIV-hepatitis C virus co-infected individuals in Canada: the importance of co-morbidities. AIDS and Behavior, 1-11.

McIntyre, L., Dutton, D. J., Kwok, C., & Emery, J. H. (2016). Reduction of Food Insecurity among Low-Income Canadian Seniors as a Likely Impact of a Guaranteed Annual Income. Canadian Public Policy, 42(3), 274-286.

Tarasuk, V., Cheng, J., de Oliveira, C., Dachner, N., Gundersen, C., & Kurdyak, P. (2015). Association between household food insecurity and annual health care costs. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 187(14), E429-E436.

Gundersen, C., & Ziliak, J. P. (2015). Food insecurity and health outcomes. Health affairs, 34(11), 1830-1839. [PDF]

Emery, J. C., Fleisch, V., & McIntyre, L. (2013). How a Guaranteed Annual Income Could Put Food Banks Out of Business. SPP Research Paper, (6-37). [PDF]

Tarasuk, V., Mitchell, A., McLaren, L., & McIntyre, L. (2013). Chronic physical and mental health conditions among adults may increase vulnerability to household food insecurity. The Journal of nutrition, jn-113.

The following are links to the research abstracts. If you are looking for the full articles, please email proof@utoronto.ca.

Loopstra, R., Dachner, N., & Tarasuk, V. (2015). An exploration of the unprecedented decline in the prevalence of household food insecurity in Newfoundland and Labrador, 2007-2012. Canadian Public Policy, 41(3), 191-206.

Loopstra R, Tarasuk V. Food bank usage Is a poor indicator of food insecurity: insights from Canada. Social Policy and Society 2015; 14(3), 443-455

McIntyre, L., Williams, J. V., Lavorato, D. H., & Patten, S. (2013). Depression and suicide ideation in late adolescence and early adulthood are an outcome of child hunger. Journal of affective disorders, 150(1), 123-129.