Newfoundland & Labrador Minimum Wage Review Submission

The Minimum Wage: A Powerful Tool to Reduce Food Insecurity

Food First NL and PROOF have co-authored a submission to the 2022 Newfoundland and Labrador Minimum Wage Review Committee, titled “The Minimum Wage: A Powerful Tool to Reduce Food Insecurity.”.

The submission draws on research demonstrating that increases in minimum wage reduce risk of food insecurity in the provinces and that working adults in countries with higher minimum wage, and collective bargaining are less likely to be food-insecure.

A look back at 10 years of PROOF

Image of candles in shape of number ten.
PROOF started in 2011 through a CIHR Programmatic Grant to Tackle Health and Health Equity. The grant was awarded to execute a five-year research program to identify viable and effective policy interventions to reduce household food insecurity in Canada, bringing together a group of multidisciplinary and international researchers from the University of Toronto, University of Illinois, University of Calgary, University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, and CAMH.

The name, PROOF, came from the suggestion of the late Cathleen Kneen, a leader in Canada’s food movement, at an early knowledge translation stakeholder meeting. The idea was that the research coming out of this research program would be the “proof” that would drive policy action on this problem. Since then, PROOF has become the leader in food insecurity research.

Over the past ten years, we have:

Food drives are not the answer to poverty and hunger

PROOF principal investigator, Dr. Valerie Tarasuk, recently co-authored an op-ed in the Toronto Star with Dr. Elaine Power and Paul Taylor, Executive Director of FoodShare Toronto.

The piece, titled “Food drives are not the answer to poverty and hunger“, delves into the dangers of messaging that suggests food drives are a solution to food insecurity, and the need to focus on evidence-based policy action instead.

But we object to our national broadcaster helping to perpetuate the myth that if we all just “pitch in” for food banks, then we can “end hunger.” This comforting fable is a convenient smokescreen for government inaction on poverty and the intersecting gender, racist and ableist inequities that disproportionately keep women, BIPOC, and people with disabilities in poverty and food insecurity. These are problems that food bank donations can never fix.

Read the op-ed here

PROOF Podcast: Why eliminating food insecurity requires dismantling anti-Black racism

We’ve known for a while that Black households in Canada are more likely to experience inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints, but little has been done to better understand this disparity. This special podcast presentation explores our recent study, “Black–white racial disparities in household food insecurity from 2005 to 2014, Canada” published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

We spoke with:
Paul Taylor, Executive Director of FoodShare
Simran Dhunna, MPH, lead author on this paper
Melana Roberts, Chair of Food Secure Canada
Andrée-Anne Fafard St-Germain, PhD

This podcast inspired our article in Healthy Debate, which you can read here:

Show Notes | Transcript



The Guardian Op-ed – P.E.I. made history by setting a timeline for eliminating food insecurity: Here’s how they can achieve it.

Read our new op-ed, “P.E.I. made history by setting a timeline for eliminating food insecurity: Here’s how they can achieve it.“, by Jennifer Taylor, PhD, RD, Professor at the University of Prince Edward Island; Tim Li, MSCom, PROOF Research Program Coordinator; and Valerie Tarasuk, PhD, Professor at the University of Toronto and principal investigator of PROOF.

In this op-ed, we discuss the significance of the food insecurity reduction targets set by the new Poverty Elimination Strategy Act and 4 evidence-based actions that the PEI government can pursue to reach these targets. We highlighted this historic bill in our previous blog post, “Prince Edward Island: The first jurisdiction to set explicit targets for reducing food insecurity“.

During the spring sitting, the P.E.I. legislature unanimously passed the Poverty Elimination Strategy Act, which lays out a timeline for reducing and eliminating poverty by 2035 and eliminating food insecurity by 2030. That means that, by 2030, every household in P.E.I. will be able to access the food they need.

What does it mean to be food-insecure? When Statistics Canada measures food insecurity, they are identifying households who have experienced insecure or inadequate access to food due to a lack of money. These experiences range from worrying about running out of food, to children not eating for whole days. As researchers in food insecurity and nutrition, we’ve learned a lot about this problem and ways to reduce it from the Statistics Canada data.

Continue reading at The Guardian.

Prince Edward Island: The first jurisdiction to set explicit targets for reducing food insecurity

Text: Food insecurity in Prince Edward Island. Based on the most recently available data from 2017-2018: 14.0% of households were food-insecure. 19.2% of children under 18 lived in food-insecure households. Background: Silhouette of PEI map

Map of PEI modified from NordNordWest under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, MLAs in PEI unanimously passed the first bill in Canada that sets explicit and binding targets for food insecurity reduction. The Poverty Elimination Strategy Act, tabled by Green MLA Hannah Bell, establishes targets for reducing the rates of poverty, food insecurity, and chronic homelessness on the Island.[1]

PROOF investigator appointed to Order of Canada

Lynn McIntyre Portrait

Lynn McIntyre, Professor Emerita of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, and a founding PROOF investigator, has been appointed to the Order of Canada for her influential research on health equity and food insecurity, and for her contributions to public health policies in Canada.

Over her career, Lynn’s research has been focused on influencing policy that will reduce household level food insecurity in Canada. Her most recent work examined the framing of food insecurity in public discourse and policy arenas. Lynn’s preferred policy solution for household food insecurity in Canada has become Basic Income and to this end, she remains actively associated with groups like the Basic Income Canada Network.

Congratulations to Lynn on this momentous achievement!


Food banks can’t adequately address COVID-19 food insecurity

A basic income, not expanded food charity, is critical as the pandemic plunges more Canadians into deprivation.

by Valerie Tarasuk, Lynn McIntyre. Originally published on Policy Options April 28, 2020

When the Prime Minister announced $100 million to support food banks and other community food programs during COVID-19, he was throwing aside everything we know about food insecurity in Canada. We know it is a large and very serious public health problem rooted in inadequate, insecure incomes. It cannot be solved by charitable food assistance. But in the announcement on April 3, which came after a series of innovative, generous and timely income support announcements for workers and businesses, Justin Trudeau called upon food charity volunteers and encouraged an expansion of programs that provide food rather than income for Canadians facing arguably the most extreme financial hardship during the pandemic.

Canada’s COVID-19 response has emphasized the importance of science in directing decision making.  Yet, food charity, an old idea that has never been able to adequately respond to food insecurity in Canada, has been brought to the fore as a sound solution. The evidence-based alternative to food charity is basic income, and this is the time for its implementation.

More Canadians are food insecure than ever before – and the problem is only getting worse

Today, PROOF, an interdisciplinary research program investigating household food insecurity in Canada, provides a long-awaited look into the current state of food insecurity in this country.

Drawing on data for 103,500 households from Statistics Canada’s 2017-18 Canadian Community Health Survey, we found that 1 in 8 households were food insecure. This represents 4.4 million people, the largest number recorded since Canada began monitoring food insecurity. And this number is an underestimate. The survey sample does not include people living on First Nations reserves, people in some remote northern areas, or people who are homeless – i.e., three groups at high risk of food insecurity.