P.E.I. eyes food cost study to help set assistance rates

The Prince Edward Island government is looking for fresh data to help set social assistance food rates and is restarting research into the cost of food — eight years after the analysis was abandoned.

Expert says too many Islanders can't afford healthy food

The Prince Edward Island government is looking for fresh data to help set social assistance food rates and is restarting research into the cost of food — eight years after the analysis was abandoned.

One expert says many on P.E.I. can’t afford healthy food. Jennifer Taylor, a nutritional science professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, has been pushing for a cost analysis for four years.

"When the Social Action Plan came out it was very clear that we needed to do something about food insecurity and we certainly at the Food Security Network had pushed to have that," said Taylor.

"So it's really heartening to see things happen. Of course, I wish they had have happened earlier because meanwhile there are families that are struggling and suffering with inadequate social assistance and wages."

Community and Social Services Minister Valerie Docherty said she doesn't know why the food cost research hasn't been done in nearly a decade, but she has asked for it start again.

"It is an internal group of my staff actually doing a review in the various jurisdictions across the country, as to what are they doing,” Docherty said.

“And from that we will identify, at minimum, a three-year strategy where we can show Islanders how our food rates are going to increase and on what basis.

Staff, she said, will also look at a food insecurity study that Taylor is expected to release this week.

Taylor says she requested the province help fund her study, but was refused both times.

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