Health unit calls for universal basic income

North Bay Nugget

Food insecurity has been identified as a public health issue in some parts of Northern Ontario for a few years now, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it worse.

The issue has prompted the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit to ask the prime minister to support the idea of creating a universal basic income for all Canadian families — enough that they can afford to buy groceries.
Kendra Patrick, a public health dietitian with the health unit, says food insecurity refers to a household that does not have enough money to buy healthy food.

 

“Oh yeah, it is an ongoing issue for sure,” Patrick says from her office in North Bay.

“We know this is a public health issue. It causes lots of other health effects. For instance, it can lead to higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and even mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

“And we know that in our district one in seven households are food insecure. That’s quite a big proportion of the population.”

Patrick was quoting a health unit report tabled in February 2019. While it was not able to gather statistics for a followup report this past spring, Patrick says she was able to provide newer information from PROOF, a Canadian research organization that monitors household food insecurity.

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