Re­port finds food bank use ris­ing with more kids, se­niors

Metro Canada (Winnipeg) - - METRO NEWS -

Food Banks Canada is us­ing its an­nual re­port on the num­ber of peo­ple us­ing food banks in the coun­try to push anew for the fed­eral and provin­cial gov­ern­ments to do away with the so­cial as­sis­tance pro­grams.

The group wants to see the ex­ist­ing bu­reau­cra­cies that oversee so­cial ben­e­fits, such as dis­abil­ity pay­ments, in­stead fun­nel all the sav­ings into tax mea­sures that would put more money into the hands of low­in­come earn­ers.

The group’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor says that this would cre­ate a ba­sic, min­i­mum in­come for those liv­ing near or be­low the poverty line, and likely save money for gov­ern­ments.

Katharine Schmidt said the move could also re­duce the num­ber of peo­ple us­ing food banks, which this year crept up by about one per cent to more than 852,000 from the al­most 842,000 recorded last year.

“It cer­tainly wouldn’t be an easy thing to do, but if we were to dis­man­tle the ex­ist­ing bu­reau­cra­cies and put in place a ba­sic in­come that was ad­min­is­tered through the tax sys­tem we really be­lieve that it would re­duce the over­all cost to gov­ern­ments,” she said.

“At the end of the day, we would be a bet­ter off Canada than we are to­day.”

Food Banks Canada has seen two other reg­u­lar re­quests in its an­nual Hunger-Count re­port be­come part of the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s cam­paign plat­form: to bring down the cost of food in the ter­ri­to­ries, and money to build more af­ford­able hous­ing across the coun­try.

The Lib­er­als promised $40 mil­lion over four years to Nu­tri­tion North to help lower food prices in the North, and an af­ford­able hous­ing plan that in­cludes a prom­ise to elim­i­nate the GST on all new rental builds in the coun­try.

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