Letter to the Editor – MP Barrett

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Dear Editor,

MP Barrett votes against Bill to develop a national school food program.

Food bank use in Ontario increased by almost 40% in 2023 as the cost of living soared. Being hungry at school reduces educational attainment, increases the risks of not graduating high school, and increases the likelihood of having children early in life, all of which reduce social mobility and perpetuate poverty.

Bill C-322 was a first step in addressing the issue of hunger in schools, yet MP Barrett voted against this bill to develop a school food program. In emailed remarks, MP Barrett stated that he opposed the Bill as “the money is going to fund bureaucracy” and “The government could help reduce the increase in food prices right now by taking the carbon tax off right now. We will continue to fight to remove the carbon tax to make food more affordable and to bring home lower prices for all Canadians.”

These lines of reasoning sound reasonable but fall apart after closer examination. Bureaucracy is often maligned, but it is an essential part of government programs, ensuring that monies allocated to programs reach intended recipients and are used for their intended purposes.

The carbon tax has been frequently attacked by Conservatives as making life more expensive for Canadians (and is also criticized by environmentalists as being far from sufficient to reduce emissions), yet this position is not supported by the data. Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem states that the carbon tax accounts for 0.15 percentage points of inflation when considering direct impacts on the cost of carbon-based fuels. University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe has analyzed data from Statistics Canada and concludes that the carbon tax has an overall effect on inflation of around 0.2 percentage points. Importantly, these figures do not account for the effect of the carbon tax rebate that households receive, a rebate that overwhelming benefits lower income households, with a Statistics Canada model showing that 94% of households with incomes under $50k received rebates that exceeded their carbon-tax costs in 2023, while only 55% of households with incomes over $250k received more in rebates than they paid in costs.

Childhood hunger concerns everyone and should be tackled by society as a whole to ensure that children can reach their full potential.

Steve Gabell,  Kemptville

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