PROOF, the interdisciplinary research group that studies food insecurity in Canada, has published research on guaranteed annual income and food insecurity (not having access to sufficient affordable, nutritious food) in Canadian Public Policy.

Seven years of national-level data shows that a guaranteed annual income (in this case, Canada’s Old Age Security program and its supplement for those with low incomes) is effective in decreasing food insecurity among low income seniors in Canada.

“Turning 65 and being eligible for this funding is associated with, on average, a 15 percentage point drop in food insecurity compared to baseline.” 

-PROOF press release

In the households studied, the prevalence of food insecurity was cut by nearly 50% among low income single-person households who were food insecure after the age of 65 and who, during the time of the study, experienced a shift in their source of income from wages or conditional public assistance to public pensions.

At the beginning of this year, 2.83% of Canadians were using food banks. And the use of food banks has been on a steady rise over the past decade across Canada. (Click here for an interactive map of the nation’s food insecurity levels as of 2012.)

While food insecurity in Canada is crescendoing, so is the support for Basic Income (BI) as a way to dampen it. PROOF’s study backs the recent surge of Canadian BI endorsements as a way to solve food insecurity and other problems associated with poverty.

Here are some of the endorsements just in the past year:

  • Food banks like Winnipeg Harvest began advocating for BI.
  • Food Banks Canada put BI at the top of its list of recommendations in its annual report.
  • The Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit endorsed BIG (joining many Ontario health units who have done the same).
  • The Waterloo Regional Council endorsed BI.
  • Valerie Tarasuk (Professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto) has recommended a guaranteed annual income to alleviate food insecurity.
  • Hugh Segal recently recommended that food security be one of the variables studied in the upcoming pilot in Ontario (he is one of the Project Advisers).

“Although this work is focused on low income seniors, it paves the way for future research to identify alternative funding models, like basic income, that address poverty in individuals before they are eligible for Old Age Security.” 

-Tim Li PROOF Administrator

On November 17-18, the University of Toronto is hosting a conference on advancing food insecurity research in Canada.

PROOF’s new research is available here:


McIntyre, L., Dutton, D. J., Kwok, C., & Emery, J. H. (2016). Reduction of Food Insecurity among Low-Income Canadian Seniors as a Likely Impact of a Guaranteed Annual Income. Canadian Public Policy, 42(3), 274-286.

Picture: cover of journal Canadian Policy

About Nick Yeretsian

Nick Yeretsian has written 7 articles.

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