Our CEO’s Insights: Understanding the Rising Poverty Rates

In the wake of the latest data released by Statistics Canada, revealing an unsettling surge in poverty rates, we’ve taken the time to reflect on what these numbers mean for our communities. The figures are striking, revealing a concerning trend that demands our attention and action.

According to Statistics Canada’s Market Basket Measure, which serves as Canada’s Official Poverty Line, the poverty rate climbed to 9.9% in 2022. This translates to approximately 3.8 million Canadians living below the poverty line, up from 7.4% in 2021. This brings the poverty rate dangerously close to pre-pandemic levels, reminiscent of the 10.3% recorded in 2019. While the 2022 numbers reflect data from 18-months ago, we predict the 2023 poverty rate will be higher.

This surge in poverty rates isn’t just a collection of statistics—it represents real struggles faced by individuals and families across the country. At the Ottawa Food Bank, the impact is profound. Our network experienced a staggering increase of 68% in food bank visits since 2019, far surpassing pre-pandemic levels. These numbers underscore the urgency of the situation and highlight the growing affordability crisis in our city.

Behind these statistics are stories of hardship and resilience. Families are forced to make impossible choices between paying bills and putting food on the table. Children go to bed hungry, their education and future prospects hanging in the balance. The ripple effects of poverty extend far beyond individual households, affecting the health, well-being, and economic prosperity of entire communities.

Addressing the root causes of poverty requires a concerted effort from all of us. It means advocating for policies that promote economic equality, supporting local organizations like food banks that provide vital services to those in need, and fostering a culture of compassion and empathy within our communities. While the rise in poverty rates is undoubtedly concerning, it also presents an opportunity for collective action and positive change.

As we mark 40 years of food banking in Ottawa, we are committed to raising awareness, mobilizing resources, and advocating for policies that prioritize community resilience and equity, we can create a future where poverty is no longer a barrier to opportunity.

Rachael Wilson
Chief Executive Officer, Ottawa Food Bank

To learn more about our work and how you can advocate for solutions to end food insecurity, check out the Ottawa Food Bank’s latest annual reports:


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