Research and Advocacy University of Calgary Report

Government Public Policy Drives Number of Food Bank Visits: New Report

A new report published by the School of Public Policy at The University of Calgary confirms that food bank clients are accessing services most when their income is restrained.

Using data from Daily Bread Food Bank, authors Ron Kneebone and Margarita Wilkins tracked changes in the cost of shelter and in labour market conditions against food bank visits between January 2014-March 2020. The report found that the number of food bank visits directly rises with increases in rent and falls with increases in minimum wage or disability benefits available to individuals requiring social assistance.

Extrapolations from this research show the impact in a place the size of Toronto and Ontario:

  • A $30 per month increase in rent would lead to 73,776 more visits to food banks annually in Toronto and 375,512 more visits across Ontario.
  • A $1 increase in minimum wage would lead to close to 36,876 fewer visits to food banks annually in Toronto and 187,756 fewer visits across Ontario.
  • A $15 per month increase in Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) would be associated with 53,652 fewer visits to food banks annually in Toronto and 273,099 fewer visits across Ontario.