Nunavut Hunger 20150123

A price tag lists the price and subsidy of a 4-litre jug of milk at a grocery store in Iqaluit, Nunavut in 2014. The territory had the highest rate of food insecurity at 36.7 per cent in 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Being able to afford to enough nutritious food continues to be a struggle for some Canadians, according to a new report.

Wednesday’s report from Statistics Canada used five years of data from the Canadian Community Health Survey to compare rates of food insecurity.

"Food insecurity rates have remained relatively stable over time," the report’s authors concluded.

"Every year from 2007 to 2012, approximately five per cent of Canadian children and eight per cent of Canadian adults lived in food insecure households. This means that they did not have access to a sufficient variety or quantity of food due to lack of money."

In 2011 to 2012, about 1.1 million Canadian households experienced food insecurity — saying the quality or quantity of food they ate were inadequate or they reduced their intake.

Researchers are concerned because people who experience food insecurity also tend to report poor or fair health. For children, going without food can harm their healthy growth and development.

Previous research

A 2003 Canadian study suggested adults often try to shelter their children by reducing how much they eat themselves or the variety of foods at meals.

The report’s authors said their findings are consistent with the previous research. About 10.2 per cent of households with children and 7.6 per cent of those without children reported food insecurity in 2011 to 2012.

For the most recent year, Nunavut had the highest rate of food insecurity at 36.7 per cent compared with the national average of 8.3 per cent. The Northwest Territories had the second highest rate at 13.7 per cent, followed by Yukon at 12.4 per cent.

Among provinces, Nova Scotia (11.9 per cent), P.E.I. (10.6 per cent) and New Brunswick (10.2 per cent) had the highest percentages.  

Households that relied on government benefits as their main source of income were three times more likely to experience food insecurity than those with an alternate main source.