Last week, Food Banks Canada released their 2018 report, which found Saskatchewan has the highest proportion of children relying on food banks in the country. According to the report, 43.5 per cent of individuals served by food banks in Saskatchewan were children, higher than the Canadian average of 35.2 per cent. Although a recent change in how food bank usage is measured makes quantifying recent shifts in usage difficult, previous reports show that food bank use in Saskatchewan grew 76.9 per cent between 2008 and 2016. Last week, the Estevan Food Bank reported a 40 per cent increase in usage over a year ago.
“No child should be going to school or to bed hungry, but that’s the reality facing far too many Saskatchewan families,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “The poverty underlying food bank usage hurts children and costs our provincial economy billions each year in increased health, social services and justice costs.
“This Family Day, the best way for the Sask. Party government to honour Saskatchewan families would be to step up with a real plan to reduce poverty and improve the lives of Saskatchewan children.”
The Sask. Party government has made life less affordable for lower income families. In the 2018-19 budget, the Sask. Party cut the rental housing supplement, making it almost impossible for low-income families to keep a roof over their heads. The addition of PST to children’s clothes made replacing worn out or outgrown clothing harder for parents.
“The government keeps making it harder for families to get by, as we see in the number of children relying on food banks,” said Social Services Critic Nicole Rancourt. “Children in Saskatchewan should not be going hungry and parents should not be struggling like this. It’s unacceptable.”
One in four Saskatchewan children live in poverty — among the worst rates in the country, according to a study released last November.
Meili pointed to the recently released “12 Bold Ideas to Eliminate Poverty in Saskatoon” report as evidence that answers are all around us to address hunger and poverty in our communities. “What’s missing is the political will. We need a government that will work to help lift children out of poverty, that’s committed to building a better future for all of us.”