The local health unit says many in the North Bay area can't afford to eat healthy food and that's increasing the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and depression.
According to the 2017 Cost of Healthy Eating Report, it costs a local family of four $879 a month to eat a basic healthy diet. For those living with low incomes, there may not be enough money left at the end of the month to get by after paying for rent and food, let alone the other costs of living such as heat, hydro, transportation, telephone, and child care says a Health Unit news release.
“When you don’t have enough money to buy food it impacts your health and well-being,” says Erin Reyce, Public Health Dietitian at the Health Unit. “Higher incomes will help prevent chronic diseases, and reduce health care spending.”
Reyce says the minimum wage increase is a step in the right direction, but more policy measures are needed to reduce poverty rates, particularly for those receiving social assistance.
"For example, a single 40-year-old man receiving Ontario Works has a monthly income of $806. If he pays $568 in rent for a bachelor apartment and $294.61 for healthy food, he would be in debt by $56.61 per month. This man may be forced to turn to food charity programs like a food bank or soup kitchen to make ends meet. While these programs provide an important service to the community, they do not address the root of the problem which is poverty."
For more information about food insecurity and to view the report, visit myhealthunit.ca/