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Household Food Insecurity In Canada in 2007-2008: Key Statistics and Graphics

Key statistics and graphics on household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008 are presented below.Footnote 1 They are not directly comparable to those from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2004 because of key differences in survey methodology (e.g., the geography and age of respondents sampled, the subject matter of the survey, the proportion of in-person versus telephone interviews).

Household Food Insecurity

Food secure

These households had access, at all times throughout the previous year, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

  • 92.3% of Canadian households were food secure in 2007-2008

Food insecure

At times during the previous year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money for food.  In these households, adults or children (if present) or both adults and children experienced food insecurity.  Depending on the extent of the experience, households were either moderately food insecure or severely food insecure.

  • 7.7% (961,000) of Canadian households were food insecure in 2007-2008

Moderately food insecure - These households had indication of compromise in quality and/or quantity of food consumed

  • 5.1% (629,600) of Canadian households were moderately food insecure in 2007-2008

Severely food insecure - These households had indication of reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns

  • 2.7% (331,900) of Canadian households were severely food insecure in 2007-2008

Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2007-2008

Figure 1: Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2007-2008

Number of People Living in Food Insecure HouseholdsFootnote 2

  • In 2007-2008, 1.92 million people in Canada aged 12 or older, including 228,500 children aged 12 to 17, lived in food-insecure households. Almost one third of these people, including 546,100 adults and 60,000 children aged 12 to 17, lived in households with severe food insecurity.
  • In 2007-2008, 130,300 children aged 12 to 17 lived in households with food insecurity among children, including 20,000 where the food insecurity among children was severe.Footnote 3

Household Food Insecurity by Selected Characteristics

Household Composition

In Canada in 2007-2008, the overall prevalence of food insecurity was higher in households with childrenFootnote 4(9.7%) than in households without childrenFootnote 5(6.8%).

Households with children

  • Food insecurity was more prevalent if the household included at least one child under the age of 6 years (10.8%) compared with no children under the age of 6 (9.0%).
  • The prevalence of household food insecurity was higher in households with three or more children (14.0%) compared with one or two children (9.0%).
  • The prevalence of food insecurity among households led by female lone parents (25.0%) was two times greater than among households led by male lone parents (11.2%) and four times that of households led by couples (6.3%). The prevalence of severe food insecurity in female lone-parent households (8.8%) was six times that in couple-led households (1.4%).

Households without children

Among Canadian households without children, the prevalence of food insecurity was higher among households of unattached individuals (10.5%) than among couple households (3.1%).

Household Food Insecurity in Canada by Household Composition, 2007-2008

Figure 2: Household Food Insecurity in Canada by Household Composition, 2007-2008

Households by Selected Socio-Demographic Characteristics

The prevalence of food insecurity in 2007-2008 varied by selected socio-demographic characteristics.

  • At the national level, the prevalence of food insecurity decreased from the first (lowest) household income distribution decile to the tenth (highest).Footnote 6 In the first decile, more than two out of five (42.8%) food insecure households were considered severely food insecure; the relative proportion of severe food insecurity among food insecure households decreased with increasing household income distribution decile.

Household food insecurity in Canada by household income distribution decile1, 2007-2008

Figure 3: Household food insecurity in Canada by household income distribution decile1, 2007-2008

Main source of household income

  • Food insecurity was more prevalent in households in which the main source of household income was social assistance (55.5%) or worker's compensation/employment insurance (25.3%) than in households with other main sources of income.
  • Severe food insecurity among households with social assistance as the main source of income was as common (28.2%) as moderate food insecurity (27.3%). Households with salary/wages and those with pensions/seniors' benefits as their main source of income experienced much lower rates of food insecurity (6.1% and 4.8%, respectively).

Highest level of education attained

  • The prevalence of food insecurity was lower in households with post-secondary graduation as the highest level of education achieved in the household (5.8%), compared with those with some post-secondary education (14.0%), secondary graduation (9.2%), or less than secondary graduation (14.0%) as the highest level of education attained.Footnote 7

Aboriginal status

  • Among off-reserve Aboriginal households,Footnote 8 approximately one in five (20.9%) households was food insecure, including 8.4% with severe food insecurity. These rates are approximately three times higher than among non-Aboriginal households where 7.2% were food insecure, including 2.5% with severe food insecurity.

Immigrant status

  • The prevalence of household food insecurity was higher among recent immigrant householdsFootnote 9 (12.6%) compared to non-immigrant households (7.5%) and non-recent immigrant households (7.8%).

Home ownership

  • Not owning a dwelling was related to higher rates of food insecurity, with almost one in six (17.2%) households in this situation considered food insecure, compared with 3.5% of households where the dwelling was owned.

Area of residence

  • Overall, households in urban areas had a higher prevalence of food insecurity (8.1%) than those in rural areas (6.1%).Footnote 10

Household food insecurity in Canada by selected socio-demographic characteristics, 2007-2008

Figure 4: Household food insecurity in Canada by selected socio-demographic characteristics, 2007-2008

Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity in the Provinces and Territories

In 2007-2008, household food insecurity in the provinces ranged from 6.3% in Saskatchewan to 10.6% in Prince Edward Island. In the territories, the prevalence of food insecurity was 11.6% in the Yukon, 12.4% in the Northwest Territories and 32.6% in Nunavut.Footnote 11

Household food insecurity by province and territory, 2007-2008

Figure 5: Household food insecurity by province and territory, 2007-2008

In 2007-2008, the prevalence of food insecurity in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta was significantly lower than the national average. In British Columbia, it did not differ significantly from the national average. However, food insecurity was significantly higher than the national average in the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, Manitoba and the territories.

Map: Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity, Canada, 2007-2008

Map: Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity, Canada, 2007-2008

More Information

Detailed summary data tables on household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008 are available upon request from the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

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Footnotes

Footnote 1

The Share Files from Next link will take you to another Web site Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2007-2008 were used in deriving the prevalence estimates. Please note that an Next link will take you to another Web site erratum was published by Statistics Canada in June 2010 regarding the 2007-2008 "Household Food Security Status" derived variable.

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Footnote 2

The target population of the CCHS is all Canadians aged 12 and over. Population weights were used to determine the number of people living in food insecure households.

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Footnote 3

Child status is determined based on responses to the eight-item Child Scale

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Footnote 4

Households with children had at least one household member age 17 years or less.

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Footnote 5

Households without children did not have any household members age 17 years or less.

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Footnote 6

The income distribution reflects a distribution of respondents in deciles based on the adjusted ratio of their total household income to the low income cut-off corresponding to their household and community size. It provides, for each respondent, a relative measure of their household income to the household incomes of all other respondents. This income distribution is divided into ten equal parts so that each part represents 1/10 of the sample or population.  These equal parts are referred to as Decile 1, Decile 2, etc.

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Footnote 7

The highest level of education achieved by any member of the household.

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Footnote 8

An affirmative response to the question, "People living in Canada come from many different cultural and racial backgrounds. Are you: Aboriginal (North American Indian, Mtis, Inuit)?" was used to identify Aboriginal respondents and thus Aboriginal households. It is recognized, however, that other members of the household may not necessarily self-identify as being of Aboriginal cultural or racial background.

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Footnote 9

An affirmative response to Statistics Canada's original indicator variable on immigrant status was used to identify immigrant respondents, and therefore, immigrant households. The indicator variable is based on a respondent's country of birth and Canadian citizenship at birth. "Recent" was defined as less than 5 years in Canada.

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Footnote 10

Urban areas are those continuously built-up areas that have a population concentration of 1,000 or more and a population density of 300 or more per square kilometre based on current census population counts. All other areas are considered rural.

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Footnote 11

In Nunavut, because of operational difficulties inherent to remote locales, only the largest communities are covered by the survey (CCHS): Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay, Baker Lake, Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Kugluktuk, Pond Inlet, Cape Dorset, Pangnirtung and Igloolik.

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