Food insecurity is a symptom of poverty, low income and wages, and a broken system, and the solution lies in the government’s commitment, support, and investment in bold, life-changing policies. It is ultimately a political choice. Leaving so many Nova Scotians to be food insecure is a political choice. The government has the power to change this situation.

We are committed to advocating for long-term, policy-based solutions.

Objective 1: Increase Nova Scotia’s provincial income supports to elevate and keep low-income Nova Scotians above the poverty line. 

Research has shown time and time again that Nova Scotians are food insecure because they don’t have enough income, not because there isn’t enough food. One in every ten Nova Scotians can’t afford the cost of a basket of goods and services necessary for a basic standard of living. At the same time, Nova Scotia has one of the lowest income support rates in the country. Welfare incomes for single adults were $15,780 below the poverty line in Nova Scotia in 2021, and couples with two children were $17,760 below. Statistics from PROOF show that 74 percent of households reliant on Income Assistance in Nova Scotia in 2021 were food insecure. It’s no surprise that in a Feed Nova Scotia survey, 91 percent of the food bank visitors said the amount received in income support is inadequate. 

Our recommendations for the provincial government: 

Increase Income Assistance rates until they match the Market Basket Measure threshold and regularly index them to match inflation.  

Implement a minimum income floor pilot, providing every Nova Scotian with a basic guaranteed income for 3 years to assess the impact. 

Objective 2: Increase the provincial investment and support for low-income renters as a part of a long-term, target-oriented, and equity-focused housing strategy for Nova Scotia. 

The affordable housing market in Nova Scotia has long been a crisis, and we are seeing historically high rates of homelessness. We know that households spending a disproportionate amount of their income on housing have higher rates of food insecurity. In surveys of food bank visitors in 2022, we found that a staggering 85% of people were paying more than 30% of their income on housing (which is the defined threshold for affordable housing). When housing costs are this high, people are forced to cut back on unfixed costs and the food budget is often one of the first things to go. With continued deteriorating housing affordability and gaps in government support, low-income renters are facing increased risk of poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness. When people have affordable housing, food insecurity rates will go down. 

Our recommendations for the provincial government:  

Pass legislation that recognizes housing as a human right and to invest in non-market, non-profit co-op, affordable housing.  

Increase the amount of support provided by the provincial rent assistance program to an amount that ensures no one is paying more than 30% of their income for housing. 

Objective 3: Reduce out-of-pocket expenses on prescription drugs to promote positive health outcomes for Nova Scotians. 

56% of food bank clients surveyed have had to sacrifice buying food to pay for prescription medication. Almost half of adults who report not following drug prescriptions because they can’t afford the cost are food insecure. People are often making heartbreaking choices between medication or food. This can have a devastating impact—on people, who will experience poor health outcomes, and on our already overburdened healthcare system, which will see increased strain.  
Everyone should have equitable and affordable access to the prescriptions drugs they need.   

Our policy recommendations for the provincial government: 

Waive or reduce the annual deductible amount after the 20% copay is applied in the Family Pharmacare program. 

Support at the provincial and federal level, the introduction of a universal, single-payer, public system of prescription drug coverage.