As detailed in our 2019 Hunger Report, before COVID-19, food bank use had already reached an all time high, with more than half a million people accessing food banks over 3.2 million times in that year alone. In studying such an unprecedented year of food bank use, we found that despite the province’s low unemployment rate, food banks still saw a 44 percent increase in the number of adults with employment income accessing their services.
In our surveying and research, we identified three key contributors to this trend: the rise in precarious employment, changes to Ontario’s labour laws that benefited companies over working Ontarians, and insufficient support provided through worker assistance programs.
What this told us was clear; although these individuals were employed, they were still unable to earn enough income to help cover all of their necessities and, in turn, had to turn to food banks for support.
With this in mind, Feed Ontario would like to put forward the following recommendations as first steps the committee can take in strengthening our workforce:
- Increase the impact of the Low Income Families Tax (LIFT) credit by making it refundable
- Work in partnership with MCCSS to improve support for those transitioning back into the workforce by increasing earning exemptions and eliminating claw backs under Ontario’s social assistance programs
- Connect people to quality employment by improving labour laws and worker support programs
- Invest in women by removing the barriers they face when entering the workforce and support low-income parents by making childcare more affordable
- Put people at the centre of your design by consulting with and including the perspectives of people with lived experience in the development of your strategy
Read our full submission here to learn more about our recommendations to the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee.