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Food Banks Canada Report Highlights Hidden Poverty

Experts estimate 25% of Canadians are living at a poverty level living standard, compared to the official poverty rate of 10%

30% of 18-30 year olds, 44.5% single parent households and 42% of renters can't afford two or more household essentials

TORONTO, June 18, 2024 /CNW/ - Canada's official poverty rate doesn't tell the full story of hunger and food insecurity in Canada, according to a new landmark report: Measuring Poverty with a Material Deprivation Index (MDI): An Updated Index for Canada, published today by Food Banks Canada with the support of the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security and Maytree.

Food Banks Canada logo (CNW Group/Food Banks Canada)
Food Banks Canada logo (CNW Group/Food Banks Canada)

The new report, prepared by Michael Mendelson, Maytree Fellow and a former Deputy Minister in Ontario and Manitoba, with Geranda Notten, Professor of Comparative Public Policy at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, introduces a Material Deprivation Index (MDI) – a poverty metric that's widely used in Europe to measure a poverty level standard of living – with Canadian data. The MDI illuminates hidden poverty by showing that an estimated 25% of Canadians are living in poverty because they cannot afford two or more household essentials. That's nearly 6 million more Canadians than is reflected in StatsCan's most recent poverty rate data.

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According to the MDI metrics utilized in the new Food Banks Canada report, 30% of Canadians aged 18-30 years old, 44.5% of single-parent families – and 42% of renters experience a poverty level standard of living, meaning they cannot afford two or more household essentials.

Assessing Poverty Goes Beyond Income

"A better understanding of poverty is critical to accurately track our progress in reducing economic distress among households in Canada," says Kirstin Beardsley, CEO of Food Banks Canada. "Adopting an MDI in Canada could improve our understanding of the extent and nature of poverty and help explain the gaps we're seeing between real life demand at food banks and the current official poverty rate. We ask that the Canadian government incorporate an MDI into their official poverty reduction strategy as part of the indicator portfolio to assess levels of poverty in Canada."

"A Material Deprivation Index is widely used in other industrialized countries to measure the impact households experience because of not having enough money," says Sarah Stern, Executive Director, Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security. "Developing and maintaining an MDI alongside existing income-based poverty measures could provide the government with deeper insights to enhance programs to reach more of those experiencing food insecurity."

According to the MDI results, other demographics experiencing high rates of a poverty standard of living include respondents:

  • Who are unemployed and looking for work: 55.5%

  • Receiving government transfers as their main source of income: 55.4%

  • Identifying as Black: 34.4%

  • Identifying as Indigenous: 37.4%

  • With a disability: 37%

About the project

The project lead for "Measuring Poverty with a Material Deprivation Index (MDI): An Updated Index for Canada" was Michael Mendelson, Maytree Fellow, and a former Deputy Minister in Ontario and Manitoba. Academic leadership for the project was from Geranda Notten, Professor of Comparative Public Policy at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. The Environics Institute for Survey Research facilitated our surveys and analysis.  The report can be accessed at https://foodbankscanada.ca/hunger-in-canada/

About Food Banks Canada

Food Banks Canada provides national leadership to relieve hunger today and prevent hunger tomorrow in collaboration with the food bank network from coast to coast to coast. For 40 years, food banks have been dedicated to helping people living with food insecurity. Over 5,100 food banks and community organizations come together to serve our most vulnerable neighbours who this year made 1.9 million visits to these organizations in one month alone, according to our HungerCount report. Over the past 10 years, as a system we've sourced and shared over 1.4 billion pounds of food and Food Banks Canada shared nearly $168 million in funding to help maximize collective impact and strengthen local capacity – while advocating for reducing the need for food banks. Our vision is clear: create a Canada where no one goes hungry. Visit http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/ to learn more.

About the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security

Launched in 2016, the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security ("the Centre") is a registered charity committed to working collaboratively to reduce food insecurity in Canada by 50% by 2030. The Centre advocates for critical public policies and invests in knowledge building and programs that advance the capacity of people and communities to achieve sustainable food security. The Centre has directly funded more than thirty projects across the country, committing more than $13 million to increase access to good food and reduce food insecurity.

About Maytree

Maytree is a human rights organization committed to advancing systemic solutions to poverty and strengthening civic communities. We believe the most enduring way to fix the systems that create poverty is to ensure that economic and social rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled for all people living in Canada. Through our work, we support non-profit organizations, their leaders, and people they work with. https://maytree.com

SOURCE Food Banks Canada

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View original content to download multimedia: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2024/18/c6353.html