Working poor have biggest struggle to buy food

Recent research shows the majority of Prince Edward Islanders who are short on money to buy food actually have jobs.

Food insecurity trend same across Canada, but worse on P.E.I.

Recent research shows the majority of Prince Edward Islanders who are short on money to buy food actually have jobs.

The government needs to find ways to help the working poor buy food, says Valerie Tarasuk. (CBC)

Those workers represent 84 per cent of all the food insecurity on P.E.I. The working poor are the most food insecure people in the country, but the problem is much worse on the Island. Nationally, the working poor make up 61 per cent of the food insecure.

Valerie Tarasuk, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, said low-wage earning Islanders need more help so they have enough money for food.

"The province needs to figure out how to better support people in the workforce," said Tarasuk.

"Things like tax benefits, tax credits. What is there that can happen at the level of the tax return to offset some of the struggles people are having, while reinforcing the fact that they're in the workforce."

Tarasuk's research shows more than half single mothers on P.E.I. can't afford good, healthy food. Rural Islanders are as badly off as urban Islanders, while nationally food insecurity is more common in cities.

Better at 65

Tarasuk did find, however, that food insecurity issues improve once an Islander turns 65.

She said seniors are better off in part because they have a guaranteed annual income, but she also believes other Island programs and discounts for seniors must be helping.

"When somebody hits 65, their risk of food insecurity drops, and that happens everywhere, but boy does it ever happen in Prince Edward Island," said Tarasuk.

"The chances of someone being food insecure if they're a senior are about one third the chance that they are if they're just a working aged adult."

Tarasuk said she's also found Islanders are less likely to struggle to feed themselves if they own their own home, and she wonders if that could be a factor improving the situation for seniors as well.


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