Facts: Grocery Security

April 13, 2016

The purpose of a Grocery Security Act is to establish a legislative framework that mandates

government to adjust income assistance rates for families with dependent children in order for them to be reasonably assured that they can purchase food from grocery stores as opposed to food banks.

Food Bank Use in Nova Scotia: 2015 

  • 44,000 Nova Scotians turned to Food Banks in 2015 – 4.6% of the total population.
  • 19, 722 Nova Scotians relied on Food Banks in March 2015 – +0.3% change from 2014.
  • Food Bank use in Nova Scotia rose by 16.6% from 2008 to 2015.
  • 31.2% of all food bank users – 1 in 3 – are children.
  • 51% of Nova Scotia’s Food Bank users are women – 5% increase from 2014.
  • 55.5% of all Food Bank users in Nova Scotia have Income Assistance as their primary source of Income.
  • 61.6% of Food Bank users in rural Nova Scotia have Income Assistance as their primary source of Income.


Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia

*All stats are based on the After-Tax Low Income Measure (AT-LIM) for children under the age of 18. The AT-LIM is a relative measure of poverty that determines poverty thresholds set at 50% of the median Canadian income. The AT-LIM is the most recognized measure of poverty internationally.

Nova Scotia has the third-highest child poverty rate in Canada and the highest rate of child poverty in Atlantic Canada.

  • 37, 650 children live in poverty in Nova Scotia– 1 in 5 (25%).
  • Half (50%) of the children living in lone parent families in Nova Scotia live in poverty.
  • From 2000-2013, the child poverty rate decreased by 13.9%. However, the percentage of children living in poverty in 2013 is 24.3% higher than in 1989 – the year Canada vowed to eradicate child poverty.

Cape Breton experiences disturbingly higher levels of child poverty when compared with  Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada. 

  • 1 in 3 children (32.4%) in the Cape Breton Census Area live in poverty.
  • Young children (6 years and younger) in the Cape Breton Census Area have a poverty rate of 42.7%. 

Income Assistance Rates

Income Assistance Rates have been frozen since 2014 and the Minister of Community Services has signaled this will continue in 2016-17. Freezing assistance rates is actually a cut when considering inflation and cost of living increases.

In 2013, welfare incomes for lone-parent families with one child were actually $772 per-annum lower than in 1989 when adjusted for inflation (in constant dollars).

Food Costs in Nova Scotia

The CPI for Food in Nova Scotia has risen above the national average from January 2015 to January 2016, with significant increases in Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

  • Food prices have risen by 4.7% from January 2015 to January 2016 – 0.7% above the national average.
  • Fresh or Frozen Meat has increased by 8.6% from January 2015 to January 2016 – 4.6% above the national average.
  • Fresh Fruit has increased by 18.9% from January 2015 to January 2016 – 6% above the national average.

***All this and Income Assistance Rates are still Frozen.

 Income Inequality

  • 57.25% of Nova Scotians make between $25,000 and $35,000/year
  • 0.39% of Nova Scotians make $250,000+/year


Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (2015). “End It Now: The 2015 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia.



Statistics Canada (2015). Individuals by total income level, by province and territory



Statistics Canada (2016). Consumer Price Index, food, by province (monthly)