Ottawa Food Bank’s response to low-income transit pass announcement

The Ottawa Food Bank is pleased with today’s announcement from the City of Ottawa regarding the decision to offer a low-income transit pass in 2017. The pass, which will be offered to approximately 8,800 low-income residents, will boost access to transportation for people who live below the low income cut-off set by Statistics Canada.

People who turn to the Ottawa Food Bank for assistance often spend resources on transit, instead of purchasing food. Limited access to transportation also restricts families from buying more nutritious food as they are unable to travel to grocery stores, limiting them to food choices such as fast food restaurants and convenience stores.

[blockquote]“We think there is a direct correlation between transportation costs and food insecurity,” said Michael Maidment, executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank. “Families are spending money on transportation to get to work, school, or medical appointments that would otherwise have been used to purchase food”.[/blockquote]

Ottawa Public Health released its annual “The Price of Eating Well” report this past September, which details how much low-income families are impacted by the costs such as food and rent. Courtesy of Ottawa Public Health, here is the breakdown for a family of four living on social assistance:

Courtesy of Ottawa Public HealthThe reality is people are going without food, purchasing cheap and often less nutritious food, or are turning to food banks to make up for this short fall.

[blockquote]“I expect the low-income transit pass to make a positive long-term impact on the number of people seeking food assistance,” added Maidment.[/blockquote]

The low-income transit pass, in combination with increasing the availability of affordable housing, introducing a basic income program, and improving social assistance rates will have a measured impact on poverty and the number of people turning to the Ottawa Food Bank for food.


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