Basic Income Could Take a Bite Out of Food Insecurity in Simcoe and Muskoka

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Suggesting Ways to Mitigate Food Insecurity in the Region

June 4th – The City of Barrie was on Monday night treated to the same presentation given to County Council late last month, detailed below.

May 22nd – A basic income would help solidify the county’s food security. That’s one of the takeaways from a presentation by The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit to County Council today, highlighting municipalities’ roles in taking action on food insecurity.

It’s said one in eight across Simcoe and Muskoka are impacted by a lack of adequate food, leading to greater risk of asthma and depression among children. Youth could experience social anxiety, depression or potentially suicide due to lack of access to adequate food, while adults could be subject to further medical issues; The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says food insecurity for adults could mean higher rates of Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or depression. The resulting impact of food insecurity is greater use of health services in the region, resulting in higher health care costs and longer wait times at hospitals.

The presentation highlighted that municipalities are already taking action in addressing food insecurity in the region The Health Unit indicates steps taken in affordable housing, living wages, and policies to attract quality jobs are all helping with the issue, but add more could be done. The presentation highlights how keeping Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot could mitigate the effects, by providing more money for food. Social assistance rates that match real living costs and are indexed to inflation would also help, as would policies that encourage good jobs with regular hours and benefits.

The Ontario Government is currently conducting a basic income pilot project in Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay, where select individuals are receiving regular income payments. Up to 4,000 participants were selected at random among applicants to receive a set salary over a three year trial. Individuals were to get up to $16,989 a year, less 50 per cent of any earned income, while couples bring in closer to $24,000. A third party researcher will then evaluate the outcome of the pilot before taking it any further.