MP Report: Rising Cost of Food and Food Bank Use

Not only has the affordability crisis affected households and businesses, but not for profits have been hit hard as well.  

It was reported that Central Okanagan Food Bank set new records in the number of appointments where in January 2024, they had 9,097, and just under that number in February. To visualize this, that's more people than could fill Prospera Place.

This comes at a time when Food Banks BC reports that 30% of all food bank users in B.C. are children and that 20% more seniors are seeking assistance. Tragically, they also report that there's been a 30% drop in donations across British Columbia.

The UBC Student Union Okanagan also reported that 43% of undergraduate students experience food insecurity due to the high cost of living.

According to Canada's Food Price Report, the cost of food for the typical family of four is expected to rise by $700 in 2024.

Second Harvest, Canada's largest food rescue organization, says food banks nationwide expect to brace themselves for an 18% increase in demand this year, which translates to more than a million people.

Their survey also found the average funding demand per non-profit food program has increased by 13% from last year, which already saw record increases.

There are reports of a Facebook group called the "Dumpster Diving Network," where 8,000 Canadians share tips on finding food in dumpsters because they cannot afford groceries. This is unbelievable that this is occurring in Canada.

It’s like families and not for profits are rowing in one direction while the federal government is going in the other.

A significant driver in the cost-of-living crisis has been the carbon tax set by the federal Liberal government, which is set to increase again by 23% on April 1st. This will increase the cost across the entire food chain including farmers, manufactures, transporters, warehousers, and retailers.

The federal government mandates what the carbon tax amount is, and they are increasing it every year. Provinces can administer it through charging and collecting themselves (like in BC which is why you see “BC Carbon Tax” on your home heating bill), or the federal government will - either way, it’s the same amount. I recently had a resident forward me his home heating bill where his gas usage was $50 and the carbon tax was $72. A local small business owner just showed me his gas bill where $750 was carbon tax. Following the federal Liberal government plan, the carbon tax is scheduled to increase from $65 to $80 per tonne on April 1st and is scheduled to rise incrementally to $170 per tonne in 2030. As the carbon tax escalates annually, the financial burden on families and small businesses will intensify.

The operating costs of not for profits is increasing, and the cost to purchase food for food banks is increasing.

Conservatives tried to force the federal Liberal government to cancel their planned April 1st tax hike. Seven provincial governments, both Liberal and Conservative, joined in this effort, calling for the planned 23% increase to be canceled. A recent Leger poll also showed that 69% of Canadians oppose increasing the carbon tax on April 1st.

Unfortunately, Liberal, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois MPs voted down our Conservative motion to cancel the planned increase. As a result, Canadians will continue to pay more for groceries, gas, and home heating.

The carbon tax is also not helping Canada meet its climate goals. Last year's Climate Change Performance Index had Canada falling four spots to 62nd out of the 67 countries measured.

I have frequently written about the spirit of Kelowna-Lake Country and the ability of our community to come together quickly to help those in need with repeatedly opening our doors, wallets, and hearts to those struggling.

We are blessed with amazing people who give so much of their time volunteering at our local not for profits organizations. My Conservative colleagues and I will remain steadfast in advocating to stop tax increases and end the carbon tax in Ottawa.

If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected]