Health unit backs basic income idea

Owen Sounds Sun Times

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is using its Nutritious Food Basket survey to push for a basic income guarantee to help combat food insecurity in the province.

The 2017 results show that the average cost of feeding a family of four has risen slightly from last year to $203.61 per week, or $882 per month, up from $200.73 per week and $869.16 per month in 2016.

Public health dietitian Laura Needham said they don't usually see a huge change in the food basket value, but it is when they put the value into context then it reveals that many households do not have enough money to buy the food they need.

“Either their incomes haven't risen or their expenses have risen, like housing as well as food,” said Needham. “It doesn't go down.”

Households become food insecure when they do not have enough money to buy the food they need after they have paid for rent and other expenses.

Data provided by the health unit shows that a family of four receiving Ontario Works has a monthly income of $2,549. With an average monthly rent of $918, which may or may not include heat and hydro and food costs of $882, it leaves just $749 for all other expenses, including travel, other utilities, toiletries, clothing and recreation and entertainment.

The data is even more alarming for a single-person household receiving a monthly income of $794. With food expenses of $296 and an average monthly rent of $598, that person is already in the red $100 without even touching any of the additional needs.

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