Skip to main content

Alberta gets D- on latest poverty report card; food banks trying to keep up with demand

Food banks in Lethbridge are working to keep up with rising demand. (CTV News) Food banks in Lethbridge are working to keep up with rising demand. (CTV News)

Alberta received a D- grade on Food Bank Canada’s annual poverty report card – a mark that did not come as a surprise for many organizations in Lethbridge.

With the need for food and support on the rise for the past few years and no end in sight, those at Interfaith Food Bank have been preparing for an increase in demand.

“We have seen this storm coming for years,” said Danielle McIntyre, the executive director of Lethbridge’s Interfaith Food Bank.

“We knew that during the pandemic we were living in a bit of a false economy with a lot of the income supports that were available and since those supports have dried up, we have known and been experiencing drastic increases year-over-year, month-over-month.”

In its latest annual poverty report, Food Banks Canada dropped Alberta’s grade from a D to a D-.

The report says that about half of people nationally – or 44 per cent – feel financially worse off compared to last year.

“We are seeing a lot more homeowners, four times as many people accessing the food bank are employed than what we saw in 2022 and the situation is dire,” McIntyre said. “It's difficult for people to give when there is not money coming in.”

In Alberta, the report shows that nearly 45 per cent of people are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

Among people who receive government support, 47 per cent say rates are insufficient to keep up with the cost of living.

“A plan would be wonderful,” McIntyre said. “We have not had a poverty reduction strategy in Alberta since 2019 and not only was it inadequate, we didn't meet any of the targets and there is no future plan.”

“We need to have some goals and targets to meet to be able to measure any progress. It’s really about accountability and planning.”

The national report recommends that the strategy be adopted by the government.

It would also like to see an expansion of the temporary rent assistance benefit to all Albertans waiting for affordable housing.

“Things like improving minimum wage and social assistance programs, reducing income tax for low-income earners would certainly make a difference in people's economic lives,” said Jaci Zalesak, executive director of United Way Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta.

She says the cost of living is the driving factor behind the increased need for support.

Both McIntyre and Zalesak want to see supports and plans put in place now as it’ll take time to see the results.                                                                                         

“The cost of living doesn't just change overnight because the ripple effects go along with that,” Zalesak said. “So, whether it's food or paying rent or fuel, those kinds of things, it certainly has a ripple effect and it takes a long time for people to get out of poverty.”

Seven out of 10 provinces received a D- grade, while only Nova Scotia and PEI improved on their 2023 grades. Top Stories

Stay Connected