Top News

More can be done to help those in need


It’s discouraging news to hear that an increasing number of Canadians are finding they need to use food banks. It’s that much more a concern when Nova Scotia is among the provinces with the biggest increase in residents relying on this charitable service.

It’s something we’ve seen in Cumberland County and the Amherst Food Assistance Network that has seen a steady increase in the number of new families turning to the food bank for assistance.

It’s something we’ve seen in Cumberland County and the Amherst Food Assistance Network that has seen a steady increase in the number of new families turning to the food bank for assistance.

Food Banks Canada in a report this week said 1.3 per cent more Canadians are needing help in this regard compared to March 2015, and use is up 28 per cent over 2008.

Along with Nova Scotia, the biggest increases in food bank use were in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the three territories. This province stands out, however, as having a 20.9 per cent jump in numbers over the past year and a half.

This crunch comes at a time shortly after Canadians were shocked over the sharp jump in food prices in general in grocery stores. These trends tend to be cyclical, dependent on whimsies of the season, quality of harvest and so on. More recent reports suggest costs are levelling out, but seldom do consumers see them come back to what they recall paying two years previous.

At any rate, employment figures and food prices come together to play a part in the level of food bank use. Thus, the numbers visiting their local food bank are often viewed as somewhat of a barometer indicating the strength of the economy in a province or community.

With these factors in mind, we’re approaching a season traditionally thought of as crucial for food banks, with higher traffic leading up to Christmas, and the accompanying drives to see that shelves are stocked.

That perception can be a bit deceiving, however, since food bank directors occasionally have to issue reminders during other seasons that the need is there year-round, while awareness of the need tends to drop off.

On the bright side, people in our communities are generous in helping out the food bank, as well as the other projects underway at this time of year to ensure a cheerier Christmas for everyone.

What we must also glean from this report is what goes beyond dire news – that is, the recommendations that could help lift more Canadians out of this predicament. It calls for such changes as a tax system that’s more fair to low-income earners and an end to penalties in welfare rules that rob recipients of the incentive to find part-time work.

Governments need to seriously consider this advice.

Community members can and will help, but they also dearly want to see the need diminish.

 

Recent Stories