Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Determinants Of Health

Household Food Insecurity

The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey demonstrates that the difference between the cost of the NFB plus rent and income can be a useful indicator of household food insecurity (insecure or inadequate access to food due to financial constraints) for individuals and families with income from social assistance, a basic income, a pension or low wage work.  

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), from 2007-2014, 12% (10.9%, 13.4%) of Simcoe Muskoka households said they had experienced a level of food insecurity at least once in the past 12 months. This is consistent with the 12% (11.3%, 12%) of Ontario households that reported some level of food insecurity during this same time frame. These numbers represent households that report either marginal, moderate, or severe food insecurity. Marginal food insecurity captures concepts like “worrying about running out of food and/or limiting food selection because of lack of money for food.” This variable has been adopted based on work from PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research.

150203FoodInsecurityFamilyTypechart

Food insecurity is highest among lone parent families, with 24% (19.6%, 28.4%) reporting marginal, moderate or severe food insecurity during the CCHS survey period from 2007 to 2014. Food insecurity among lone parent families is significantly higher than all other types of families.

151002FoodSecbyFamilyBAR

A nutritious diet contributes to overall health, is essential for optimal growth and development and helps to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Children living in food insecure households experience poorer physical and mental health, and youth are at increased risk of depression, social anxiety and suicide. Food insecure adults also experience poorer physical and mental health, including higher rates of depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.  Additionally, parents in food-insecure homes may feel embarrassed about not being able to feed their children the way they would like to, which can lead to feelings of social exclusion and isolation from neighbours and community.

When we look at household food insecurity in Simcoe Muskoka by income distribution, we see that the percentage rises to 29% (26.1%, 31.9%) among those households that fall into the bottom 20% of income earnings. Food insecurity among those living in the bottom 20% of income is about four times higher than those living in the top 80% of income where only 7% (6.3%, 8.7%) report food insecurity. The relationship between income and food insecurity is clear – the less income available, the more food insecure households there are likely to be.

141127ModerateSevereFoodInsecurityIncomechart

Based on Simcoe and Muskoka 2018 NFB survey results and average apartment rents, a family of four with median income after-tax living in our area would need to spend 28% (Muskoka) or 27% (Simcoe County) of their monthly income after-tax on food and rent combined. By comparison, residents of Simcoe and Muskoka receiving social assistance, pension or minimum wage income would need to use much more of that income to cover basic food and housing costs. For example, when earnings from one full-time minimum wage job are the income source for a “reference” family of four, 59% (Muskoka) and 60% (Simcoe) of the family’s income would be needed to pay for food and rent alone - even after the recent minimum wage rate hike to $14 per hour. For the same family of four with income from Ontario Works, 83% (Muskoka) and 84% (Simcoe) of their income would need to go for food and rent alone (see following chart and tables), leaving the remaining 16% - 17% to cover all other basic needs including, phone, transportation, clothing, school supplies, personal care items and more.

In 2018 for the first time Simcoe Muskoka income/expense scenarios have been developed using income amounts established for individuals and families participating in the Ontario Basic Income Pilot. This is helpful in illustrating the economic difference that a Basic income could have for households with very low incomes, such as those receiving social assistance. For example an adult male in a bachelor apartment with income from Ontario Works would require 121% (Muskoka) and 129% (Simcoe) of that income to pay for food and rent alone – clearly an impossible situation. In other words this individual would require an additional $165.92 (Muskoka) and $240.14 (Simcoe) just to cover food and shelter costs. By contrast, if this same person was receiving the Ontario Basic Income amount, only 64% (Muskoka) and 68% (Simcoe) of his income would be needed to cover food and rent costs, leaving $555.08 (Muskoka) and $480.86 available to pay for other necessities.

150203FoodHousingCostschart

*Note: In 2018, median income after-tax for an Ontario family of four is used to provide a comparison for different scenarios involving low income earners.

150210ScenariosMuskokatable

 aAverage apartment rents for District of Muskoka are based on Canadian Mortgage and  Housing Corporation Ontario Rental Market Report, Fall 2017 data and are estimates only.
bBasic needs refers to, for example, transportation, clothing, phone, phone, personal care items, etc.
cegiReference Family” of two adults plus two children, girl age 8, boy age 14.
dfhjklDue to data suppression from CMHC, rental rates for bachelor and 3+ bedrooms were determined using data imputation to assign replacement values for missing data for District of Muskoka to determine these estimates.

150210ScenariosSimcoetable

aAverage apartment rents for Simcoe County are based on Canadian Mortgage and  Housing Corporation Ontario Rental Market Report, Fall 2017 data and are estimates only.
bBasic needs refers to, for example, transportation, clothing, phone, phone, personal care items, etc.
cegiReference Family” of two adults plus two children, girl age 8, boy age 14.
dfhjklDue to data suppression from CMHC, rental rates for bachelor and 3+ bedrooms were determined using data imputation to assign replacement values for missing data for Simcoe County to determine these estimates.