New StatCan data shows food insecurity worst among Nunavut single mothers

Nunavut’s food insecurity rate is more than four times the national average

New data from Statistics Canada released on Tuesday, Feb. 18, shows that single-mother households with children under 18 in Nunavut experience the highest rates of food insecurity compared to other demographics. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

New data from Statistics Canada shows that 57 per cent of people living in Nunavut are food insecure.

That’s the highest rate of food insecurity in the country and more than four times the national average of 12.7 per cent.

StatCan released the study on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Its data, from 2017-18, breaks down food security into four categories: food secure, marginally food insecure, moderately food insecure and severely food insecure.

In Nunavut, 23.7 per cent of homes are severely food insecure, according to StatCan.

That number more than doubles to 52.3 per cent for single-mother households with children under 18. In its analysis, StatCan says to use that number with caution because of the territory’s small sample size.

In the Northwest Territories, food insecurity is 21.7 per cent, while 17 per cent of the Yukon residents are food insecure.

In its survey of the population, StatCan asked a set of 18 questions about whether households with and without children were able to afford the food they needed in the last 12 months.

The levels of food security used in the survey are defined as:

1. Food secure: No indication of difficulty with income-related food access
2. Marginally food insecure: Exactly one indication of difficulty with income-related food access
3. Moderately food insecure: Indication of compromise in quality and/or quantity of food consumed
4. Severely food insecure: Indication of reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns

New data from StatCan shows that food insecurity in Nunavut is worst among single mothers with children under 18. (Photo from Statistics Canada)

In a presentation at ArcticNet in 2010, the results from the 2007 Inuit health survey showed that 70 per cent of Nunavummiut were food insecure.

A study released by StatCan in 2015 showed over one-third, or around 37 per cent, of all Nunavut households suffered from food insecurity in 2011-12.

As well, a study published by the Circumpolar Health Journal in 2016 said Inuit in Nunavut are up to 11 times more likely to experience food insecurity than non-Inuit.

All of the data, however, points to the fact that Nunavut has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country.

No data from 2015-16, the last time StatCan released a report on food security, is available for Nunavut.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by parent on

    I am a single parent in Iqaluit. Breaks my heart that when people ask for food and money i say no because i am putting my kids first. It is very hard to support my family and I cannot afford to support extended family and friends. my kids don’s go hungry.
    Wish food was not so expensive.

  2. Posted by Oh on

    Money and time well spent. We already know about food insecurity in Nunavut. Obviously it is going to be worse for single mothers. How is that news?

    • Posted by Gobble Gobble on

      Although it would be nice of you showed a little bit more compassion, as StatsCan does many different regular data collections and analysis, your general point is correct. I don’t find this surprising at all.

      Everybody is aware that Nunavut has the highest level of food insecurity in Canada, and I would guess, through common sense, that single parent families experience the highest rates of food insecurity in every province and territory in Canada. Therefore, it would be pretty easy to imagine that single parent families in Nunavut experience the highest rates of food insecurity in the country.

      I didn’t grow up here in Nunavut, but I have tried to make my life here and learn how to be a good Nunavummiut. And I believe strongly, seeing the sense of culture and community that endears me to this place, that every Nunavut community should provide breakfast and lunch programs for the students, even if at a small nominal price, and even to use its schools as a central gathering place where basic healthy dinners can be available to famies every day, again, even if for a small nominal price.

      It seems to me that the Inuit culture is that of caring for friends and family, of sharing, and really the definition of “it takes a village to raise a child”. Let’s put that into practice by bringing people together, literally and figuratively.

  3. Posted by CHEF GUY on

    Check the shopping carts !
    I would like to see a segment of Nunatsiaq News where the
    people could submit recipes which are simple and nourishing
    for people.

    • Posted by Ignorance on

      So who is teaching nutritional information and cooking skills. Proving all the tools needed to cook these meals.

  4. Posted by A on

    How curious to see a picture of such unhealthy food as Quaker processed sugar-oats in an article about food deprivation.

    It’d be helpful to know how the statistics were derived. Sometimes these conclusions come from random surveys of the population, hardly a trustworthy pool of data. Other times, stats are extrapolated from income data and plotred against the cost of a basket of nutritious food. That also has reliabily limits, but can be useful.

    In-depth studies, done on the ground (at the local store and in-home) can be especially helpful, especially when given context through interviews that highlight factors such as food and consumer literacy, market access, domestic capacity and personal health.

    • Posted by BB on

      Way back in the day, when I worked in the Central Arctic, some
      stores put a low mark-up on nutritious foods, such as oats,
      beans, rice & barley. Also some produce, mainly apples and
      oranges, potatoes & onions.
      For the ” junk food ” & TV dinners & pop & pizzas, then the
      mark- up was higher.
      It worked pretty well.

      • Posted by Essentially on

        i believe this was the sort of logic behind the Nutrition North program. As we all know the bureaucraps who decided what was healthy and what wasn’t didn’t seem to have much of a clue themselves.

      • Posted by a on

        That’s how it is now. I’ve been monitoring the Nutrition North program closely for seven years. The more nutritious the item the closer a food’s price is to the price in the South.

        In most cases it’s nearly the same price here as it is for regular price down South. That applies to meat, fish, chicken, some dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables. The more processed an item, the less it is a food, and so, there is less subsidy. Just like it should be.

        I’d challenge anyone on here (and especially Ms. Essentially) to post a list of FOOD items from the local North Mart or Co-op that doesn’t past the Nutrition and Price Test for the Nutrition North program. Hint: If the item has GST, it DOESN’T pass the test

        • Posted by Essentially on

          If you can ungarble this sentence and make it mean something: “post a list of FOOD items from the local North Mart or Co-op that doesn’t past the Nutrition and Price Test for the Nutrition North program” I might just oblige your request.

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