Letter to the Editor – Food Banks

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Dear Editor,

Christmas is a time for giving and it is right that we celebrate the generosity of normal people in donating their time, money, or goods to charitable causes at this time of year. There are many charitable organizations that we are fortunate to have in our communities, supporting people when they need it the most.

Christmas is also the time of year when we are bombarded with self-serving photos of politicians supporting food banks, yet they are complicit in creating the conditions which have led to an explosion in food bank usage. Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) payments were increased by 6.5% earlier this year, meaning a single person on ODSP with no dependents receives a maximum of $1,300 a month. Ontario Works recipients receive an even more meagre $733 a month, an amount that hasn’t increased since 2018. This is legislated poverty that our provincial government could deal with immediately if it wanted to. In Ottawa, a private member’s bill is progressing to develop a national framework to establish a school food program, yet our MP voted against this bill.

A recent report revealed that the number of people using food banks across Ontario increased by nearly 40% in the year to March 31, 2023, with nearly 800,000 people across the Province needing their support. The total number of visits saw a similar increase. Canada is a rich country, the tenth largest economy in the world, yet increasing numbers of people are not able to put food on the table or a roof over their head. While we should be very grateful that food banks exist, every case of someone needing to use one should be seen as a policy failure. Every case of someone being homeless should be seen as a policy failure. These failures should make us angry.  Neoliberal economics has failed, succeeding only in making the rich ever richer. All three major parties have been complicit in this failure. We need a new political and economic framework, one that puts people and the planet first rather than the interests of a tiny elite.

Steve Gabell

 

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