The BC Centre for Disease Control in partnership with the Provincial Health Services Authority just released their cost of a nutritionally adequate diet in BC in 2017. The data in this report represent the “average monthly cost of a nutritionally adequate, balanced diet in BC based on the National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB) and provides insight into the effects of household food insecurity on individuals and families”.
Not surprisingly food costs are increasing on average over 4% since 2015. The average monthly cost for a family of 4 in Vancouver is estimated at $1,098 based on a sample of 245 stores and the cost of a nutritious food basket. For a single male 19 – 30 years the food cost is $316.
We also know that income assistance rates are well below what is considered the poverty line which is somewhere around $21,000 for a single person or $30,000 for a family of two*. A single adult on income assistance in BC receives $710/month.
So with an monthly average food basket cost of $272 – $323, depending on age as per the BCCDC report, a single person on income assistance simply has no money for food and is forced to use food banks and other community food programs to eat. In a country with such wealth, many consider this to be criminal. Even the BC Civil Liberties Association has considered a legal challenge on this issue based on both international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
*The poverty line is based on the latest Statistics Canada’s Market Basket Measure data for Vancouver (2016) adjusted for inflation to 2018.