"When it is harder for workers to join unions and fight for their rights, it’s no surprise that more people are living in poverty even though they have a job." — Larry Brown, NUPGE
Vancouver (07 Sept. 2016) — A recent study by the Provincial Health Services Authority and the University of Toronto paints a deeply disturbing picture of how many people are going hungry or worried about going hungry in British Columbia.
485,000 British Columbians or 11.8 per cent of all households experience hunger or fear of hunger — defined as food insecurity. Food insecurity ranges from fears of not being able to afford enough food to going without.
Employment doesn’t protect people from hunger
Just as disturbing was the finding that getting a job does not protect you from food insecurity. In 65 per cent of the households experiencing food insecurity, people were employed.
That’s a direct result of the attack on working people we’ve seen over the last few decades. Since 1982, federal and provincial governments have passed 218 laws that restrict the rights of workers. "When it is harder for workers to join unions and fight for their rights, it’s no surprise that more people are living in poverty even though they have a job," said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
Families relying on social assistance particularly hard hit
Three-quarters of households relying on social assistance suffer from food insecurity. The Dietitians of Canada (British Columbia) found nutritious food is unaffordable for many people receiving social assistance — particularly when the rapidly rising rents are factored in.
Food insecurity exists because governments choose to allow it
"Canada is wealthy enough that people shouldn’t go to sleep worrying about how to feed themselves or their families," said Brown. "Wealthy individuals and corporations have billions socked away in tax havens. The same British Columbia government that makes it difficult for workers to defend their rights, and fails to increase social assistance and workers compensation to keep pace with inflation, has refused to reverse tax cuts that went primarily to large corporations and the wealthy.”
Brown continued, "The fact that 1 in 6 B.C. children can’t be sure if they’ll get enough to eat is a result of the choices governments make. But if we make governments put basic public services before helping the wealthiest individuals and corporations get even richer, the number of people going hungry or worried about going hungry will drop."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE