Food Banks Canada Responds to Federal Budget



    
    If programs are successfully implemented, federal budget can deliver
    important help for Canadians experiencing hunger.
    

    TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - Yesterday's federal budget outlines a number of
policy and program changes that will aid the more than 700,000 Canadians who
are assisted by food banks each month. Improvements to the Working Income Tax
Benefit, investments in the repair of social housing, and increased funding
for training through Employment Insurance signify much-needed progress.
    "This budget partially meets several recommendations outlined in our
HungerCount report in November 2008," said Katharine Schmidt, Executive
Director of Food Banks Canada. "For example, we called for increases to the
Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), and the government's proposed improvement
to the WITB is a welcome development."
    Other recommendations made by the national representative of food banks
went unfulfilled.
    "The HungerCount also called for investments in the Canada Child Tax
Benefit (CCTB), and in housing rehabilitation in rural areas," continued
Schmidt. "Unfortunately, families earning less than $20,000 will see no
benefit from the budget's proposed changes to the CCTB, and people who do not
have access to social housing are unlikely to be helped by the housing-related
measures."
    Food banks Canada also welcomed increased funding for training through
Employment Insurance, and the five-week extension of EI benefits, which may
help to keep many Canadians out of food bank lines.
    "One-fifth of those we help are working or on EI, and these households
are facing a very precarious year," said Schmidt. "While we are glad to see
the five-week extension of EI benefits, we are disappointed that there are no
structural changes to EI contained in the budget. Less than half of the
unemployed in the country actually qualify for EI benefits, and there are few
alternatives for those who can't find work. This means that many more will be
forced to look to their families for help in rough times, and to charities
like food banks to make ends meet. Many will struggle without support."
    Food Banks Canada will continue to press for policy change that will lead
to a decrease in food bank use in Canada. "There is a lot of work to be done
to make sure the commitments contained in the budget are carried out, and we
look forward to working with the federal government to make sure that they
benefit those most in need during this difficult time," said Schmidt.

    About Food Banks Canada

    Food Banks Canada is a national charitable organization representing the
food bank community across Canada. Our members and their respective agencies
serve approximately 85% of people accessing emergency food programs
nationwide. Our mission is to meet the short-term need for food and find
long-term solutions to reduce hunger. Please visit www.foodbankscanada.ca for
more information.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Marzena Gersho, Food Banks
Canada, (416) 203-9241, ext. 28


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