A new study is showing the cost of food is more than double in isolated communities along the James Bay coast than it is in southern Ontario. Food Secure Canada released that study this week, which shows communities like Attawapiskat spend over half of their income on groceries every month. The average cost of groceries in the community is over $1,900 a month. That’s compared to nearly $850 in Toronto.

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus says food prices are high in Timmins, but it’s the fly-in communities that are really suffering. He says the cost of food is insanely high, and then when you add in the cost of housing and fuel, people are not able to make it to the end of the month with food on the table.

Angus says the federal government’s Nutrition North program was meant to help this issue, but so far it hasn’t. That’s because the government changed the way it works. Angus says under the old system, people in remote fly-in communities could order food from various grocery stores in Timmins and have it flown up. Then, they could pick and choose. But, then the subsidy was taken away and put entirely in northern retailers. Now Angus says there is no way to know if those subsidies are being passed onto the consumers or not.

Angus says the feds need to sit down and find a way to make Nutrition North work. He says tinkering with it isn’t going to help, and the system needs to be overhauled. He says it’s not acceptable that Canadian children are being sent to school without having any food.

Angus says he has spoken with the feds numerous times about fixing the issue. He says it’s a broken program with people falling through the cracks, and it gets worse the further north you go.

Read more about what is being called a food security crisis on the Food Secure Canada website.

An example of some food costs in different communities. Supplied by Food Secure Canada.

An example of some food costs in different communities. Supplied by Food Secure Canada.