Food Banks Canada reacts to 2014 budget

Here is a note from Shawn Pegg, director of policy and research at Food Banks Canada, regarding this year’s federal government budget.

Yesterday, the federal government unveiled a relatively low-key budget with few of the type of new, large scale measures that are often expected from these exercises.

Over the past year, Food Banks Canada has advocated at the federal level for policy and program changes that would reduce poverty and the need for food banks. Specifically, our work has focused on better supports for vulnerable workers, the need for increased access to affordable housing, and enhanced social infrastructure in the North.

The budget touches on the first and last of these areas, to a limited extent.

For example:

  • The new Canada Apprentice Loan will offer $100 million in interest-delayed loans to registered apprentices in Red Seal trades, to help pay for necessary training;
  • The Targeted Initiative for Older Workers has been extended to continue to help older Canadians who have lost long-term employment in smaller communities affected by large-scale business closures and/or high unemployment;
  • People with intellectual disabilities will be supported to connect with potential employers through the $15 million Canadian Association for Community Living program Ready, Willing and Able;
  • Funding for Nutrition North Canada, which subsidizes the transportation of food to 103 northern communities, will be increased though the size of the increase was not published in the budget.

Budget 2014 re-states the government’s commitment to forge ahead with the Canada Job Grant, despite the lack of support from provincial governments. Food Banks Canada is concerned that this program will remove $300 million from federal-provincial funding agreements that provide education, training and other supports to people most at risk of failing in the job market.

Given the fact that more than 830,000 people are helped by a food bank each month in Canada, it is more imperative than ever that Food Banks Canada maintain a strong presence as a force for change within the federal government.

By proposing sound, long-term policy initiatives, Food Banks Canada will increase its efforts on Parliament Hill over the coming year and work towards ensuring that Budget 2015 introduces concrete policy measures that seek to help Canada’s most vulnerable citizens.

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