Building a Better Ontario

The Ontario Association of Food Banks recognizes that hunger is a symptom of poverty. Food banks exist across this province, not because there is a lack of food, but because many individuals do not have access to a sufficient income that allows them to afford all of their basic necessities.

Long-term policy solutions are key to not only ending hunger, but alleviating poverty – but these require time and collaboration from community leaders and all levels of government. The Ontario Association of Food Banks regularly meets with community stakeholders and political representatives to discuss its policy recommendations for addressing hunger and poverty. 


Recommendations for Change

Invest In Affordable Housing Via Construction, Repairs and a Portable Housing Benefit

Over 89 percent of food bank clients are rental or social housing tenants who spend more than 70 percent of their income on rent.  This leaves very little for other necessities like heat, hydro, transportation, medicine, and food.

We Support: A portable housing benefit to assist low-income people with the high cost of housing and investments in affordable housing construction and repair, as per provincial commitments made in the National Housing Strategy bilateral agreement.

Increase Social Assistance Rates To Reflect Today's Cost of Living

Almost 70 percent of adults that visit a food bank throughout the year cite social assistance as their primary source of income. This is a clear indication that these support programs do not provide sufficient income to afford all of the recipient’s most basic needs.

We Recommend:  Raising social assistance rates to reflect the cost of living.  Information about the amount and the timing can be found in the report Income Security: A Roadmap for Change.

Reform Social Assistance Programs to Help Recipients Move Out of Poverty

Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Programs have many complex rules that penalize recipients for their assets, savings, and housing. This makes it difficult for adults living on social assistance to establish a foundation that will allow them to break the cycle of poverty.

We Recommend: Adopting the recommended changes made in Income Security: A Roadmap for Change, including making it easier to pursue employment, reducing red tape, and prioritizing urgent needs.

Create Secure Employment

The last decade has seen a rise in precarious jobs with no benefits, unpredictable schedules, and for low wages that put them below the Low-Income Measure. Many Ontarians living paycheque to paycheque turn to food banks to fill the gap.

We Recommend: Creating policies that build our economy and encourage secure employment

Basic Income Pilot

In 2017, the Government of Ontario launched a Basic Income Pilot to investigate the viability of a guaranteed income benefit as a long-term solution to poverty.  This program was discontinued before its results could be determined.

We Recommend: The Government of Ontario reinstate the Basic Income Pilot for its complete term so that final results can be collected and analyzed in detail.

Farmer Tax Credit (Bill 36)

Ontario farmers who donate to local food banks and community meal programs are now eligible to receive a 25% tax credit based on the fair market value of the donated product!

The Ontario Association of Food Banks was instrumental in working with the agricultural community and MPP Bob Bailey (Sarnia-Lambton) to gain support on this initiative, which was passed in 2013 with all-party support.  Ontario is the first province in Canada to offer this tax credit.

 Read Our Fact Sheet

Learn More

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