It is common knowledge that the "Prosperity Gap" has been growing over the past 30 or so years, well here are a couple of facts that bring that reality into sharp focus. Canada's GDP has doubled since 1989,but so too has the number of people using food banks.
In March 2010, 867,948 Canadians visited food banks. To put that in perspective that is a number greater than than the populations of all but 4 Canadian cities*. Of the provincial and territorial capitols,plus our national capitol, only the population of Toronto surpasses this number.
This troubling trend should register as a warning flag that there is serious structural imbalance in Canadian society's economic ability to distribute incomes. Instead, we get constant pleas of poverty from on high. And we get the same bleating from business, where CEOs award themselves fat increases every year while low incomes stagnate. In fact, 30 per cent of companies that fell below the median for total shareholder return still gave management raises, according to one independent report tracking executive compensation. Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun
Here ,based on the report, HungerCount2010 , are some facts about hunger and food bank usage in Canada .
People with jobs constitute the third largest group of food bank clients, at 11.4%. The loss of full-time jobs during the recent recession and the expansion of the low-wage economy has generated more working poor who are unable to meet basic needs for themselves and their families.
In 2010, 37.8% of food bank clients were under 18. Child poverty has remained at the same level for two decades, despite the fact that the federal government commited to end child poverty by the year 2000.
Families with children
Over half of households who turn to a food bank for assistance are families with children. More than half of this number are single parent families, with 80% those headed by women The single parent family is still one of Canada's most economically vulnerable groups.
Rural Canadians About half of the food banks participating in HungerCount 2010 are located in rural communities (defined as having populations of fewer than 10,000 people).
Persons With Disabilities
Those receiving disability income supports now make up the second largest group of food bank users, according to the 2010 HungerCount report (15%). Disability support is not enough to help the disabled provide for themselves. These numbers are only going to worsen ,since Canada has a rapidly aging society and life expectancy is increasing.
Seniors accessing food banks across Canada is a sad reality. HungerCount 2010 reports that seniors accounted for 7.2 % of adults assisted by food banks in a typical month.
Recipients of Social Assistance
In 2010, 50.5% of those assisted by food banks in Canada were receiving social assistance. This suggests that social assistance rates in Canada are not sufficient to ensure food security for low-income Canadians. According to the National Council of Welfare, welfare rates across Canada continue to fall below Statistics Canada Low Income Cut-Offs.
Despite all this, the issues of hunger and poverty are being virtually ignored by our political and media classes, however the fault lies not only with them but with we, the public as well, for too many of us choose not to confront uncomfortable truths about what we have allowed to happen to our society, finding it far easier to sedate ourselves with American Idol and the latest Charlie Sheen antic.
See also Vertical Poverty
*based on the 2006 Census.