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Nearly 7 of 10 British Columbians face food challenges, survey finds

Sally Ann survey finds 1 in 5 British Columbians concerned about having enough cash for basic needs
Salvation Army Major Michael Ramsay helps a student load a box of food into the Salvation Army truck at Alberni District Secondary School on Tuesday, Nov. 28. A new survey commissioned by the Salvation Army found almost seven out of 10 British Columbians faced food challenges last year. (ELENA RARDON / Alberni Valley News)

Almost seven out of 10 British Columbians (68 per cent) say they faced food security challenges in the past year, according to a new Salvation Army survey.

The 2023 Canadian Poverty and Socioeconomic Analysis defines food security challenges as making trade-offs to food choices and eating less becaues of financial strain. The choices range from purchasing discounted food to reducing grocery bills to pay for other bills, to skipping meals so children can eat, to using food banks and community kitchens.

B.C.’s rate of 68 per cent puts the province five per cent below the national rate of 73 per cent, but the survey confirms growing food insecurity among British Columbians in the face of rising costs and other pressures. National figures that show among food bank users, 43 per cent were first-time users.

Overall, the survey finds out suggests one in four Canadians are extremely concerned about having enough income to cover their basic needs, with the highest degree of hardship being felt by single parents. The corresponding figure for British Columbia is one out five (19 per cent), five per cent less than the national figure.

Two out of three British Columbians (65 per cent) also told the survey they faced challenges managing limited resources, while 16 per cent faced challenges around housing security.

On paper, British Columbians appear more optimistic than Canadians as a whole on issues like inflation, but the difference is marginal.

Fifty-five per cent of British Columbians told the survey they are extremely concerned about the current cost of living and inflation, two per cent fewer than Canadians as a whole.

RELATED: Basic needs a concern for 1 in 4 Canadians, new poll says

If inflation is the top issue among British Columbians, rising interest rates (42 per cent) and the rising cost of energy rank second and third, with British Columbians more concerned about these issues than Canadians as a whole by one and two per cent respectively.

Housing also remains top of mind with 16 per cent of British Columbians concerned about housing security, one per cent more than Canadians as a whole.

Twenty-eight per cent of British Columbians are also pessimistic about personal finances in the next two years, three per cent less than Canadians as a whole.

British Columbians also appear to have a more optimistic outlook than Canadians. Whereas 31 per cent of Canadians were concerned about their own mental and physical health and well-being, the figure was 21 per cent in B.C.

Another difference lies in the perception of risk stemming from natural disasters and emergency. Nine per cent of British Columbians expressed the fear with the national figure being 12 per cent.

The survey took place between Oct. 12-19 and asked a representative sample of 1,515 Canadians living in all provinces but none of the three territories.

-with files from Canadian Press


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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