The researcher who does food cost studies for the Nova Scotia government says P.E.I. should not rely on her data.

'Food prices tend to be higher where you have smaller population.' - Patty Williams

The Island is considering using a food cost study to help determine payments to people on social assistance. Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty, however, has also suggested there is no need to reinvent the wheel and do a food costing study on P.E.I. when numbers from Nova Scotia are already available.

Patty Williams, the Canada Research Chair in food security and policy change at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, who did the study for the Nova Scotia government, does not support Docherty's view.

Williams said Nova Scotia figures would not accurately reflect costs on the Island. Costs on P.E.I. are likely higher, she said.

"There's many factors that come into play, but because transportation is one major factor for sure in terms of influencing the cost of food, that might be something you would expect to see," said Williams.

"Also because of the population base being smaller, food prices tend to be higher where you have smaller population sizes."

Williams would like to see all provinces do their own food cost calculations to decide things such as social assistance rates and minimum wage.

Nova Scotia is the only Atlantic province that sponsors a food cost study for those purposes.