Changes in household food insecurity rates in Canadian metropolitan areas from 2007 to 2012

Urshila Sriram, Valerie Tarasuk

Abstract


OBJECTIVES: The socio-demographic characteristics of food-insecure households in Canada have been well characterized, but there is little understanding of what drives the prevalence rates. This study was undertaken to estimate the prevalence of household food insecurity by census metropolitan area (CMA), compare prevalence rates within CMAs and within provinces over time, and assess the effect of local area economic characteristics on changes in CMA food insecurity rates.

METHODS: Data from the 2007–2012 annual components of the Canadian Community Health Survey were used to generate food insecurity rates for 33 CMAs and the corresponding nine provinces, and to compare changes in prevalence over time. Fixed-effects multiple linear regression analysis was applied to examine associations between changes in food insecurity and local area economic factors, considering peak unemployment rate, average number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries, vacancy rate, poverty rate and poverty gap.

RESULTS: Food insecurity rates ranged from 19.9% in Halifax to 9.0% in Quebec City in 2011–2012. Rates within and between CMAs were much more variable than provincial rates. Between 2007–2008 and 2011–2012, the prevalence increased significantly in Halifax, Montreal, Peterborough, Guelph, Calgary and Abbotsford, but decreased in Hamilton. Among the economic characteristics examined, only rising peak unemployment rates were linked to increases in food insecurity in CMAs.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that policy initiatives to expand employment opportunities, improve the quality and stability of employment, and increase benefits for disadvantaged workers could reduce the prevalence of food insecurity within CMAs.


Keywords


Food insecurity; census metropolitan areas; unemployment; Canada

Full Text:

PDF


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.106.4893