Household Food Insecurity In Canada in 2007-2008: Key Statistics and Graphics

Key statistics and graphics on household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008 are presented below.Footnote 1 They are not directly comparable to those from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2004 because of key differences in survey methodology (e.g., the geography and age of respondents sampled, the subject matter of the survey, the proportion of in-person versus telephone interviews).

Household Food Insecurity

Food secure

These households had access, at all times throughout the previous year, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

  • 92.3% of Canadian households were food secure in 2007-2008

Food insecure

At times during the previous year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money for food.  In these households, adults or children (if present) or both adults and children experienced food insecurity.  Depending on the extent of the experience, households were either moderately food insecure or severely food insecure.

  • 7.7% (961,000) of Canadian households were food insecure in 2007-2008

Moderately food insecure - These households had indication of compromise in quality and/or quantity of food consumed

  • 5.1% (629,600) of Canadian households were moderately food insecure in 2007-2008

Severely food insecure - These households had indication of reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns

  • 2.7% (331,900) of Canadian households were severely food insecure in 2007-2008
Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2007-2008

This pie chart shows the prevalence of household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008.

In 2007-2008, 92.3 per cent of Canadian households were food secure. 7.7 per cent of Canadian households were food insecure; 5.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.

Source: Health Canada

Data source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 2007-2008 – Share File, Household Weights

Figure 1: Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2007-2008

Number of People Living in Food Insecure HouseholdsFootnote 2

  • In 2007-2008, 1.92 million people in Canada aged 12 or older, including 228,500 children aged 12 to 17, lived in food-insecure households. Almost one third of these people, including 546,100 adults and 60,000 children aged 12 to 17, lived in households with severe food insecurity.
  • In 2007-2008, 130,300 children aged 12 to 17 lived in households with food insecurity among children, including 20,000 where the food insecurity among children was severe.Footnote 3

Household Food Insecurity by Selected Characteristics

Household Composition

In Canada in 2007-2008, the overall prevalence of food insecurity was higher in households with childrenFootnote 4(9.7%) than in households without childrenFootnote 5(6.8%).

Households with children

  • Food insecurity was more prevalent if the household included at least one child under the age of 6 years (10.8%) compared with no children under the age of 6 (9.0%).
  • The prevalence of household food insecurity was higher in households with three or more children (14.0%) compared with one or two children (9.0%).
  • The prevalence of food insecurity among households led by female lone parents (25.0%) was two times greater than among households led by male lone parents (11.2%) and four times that of households led by couples (6.3%). The prevalence of severe food insecurity in female lone-parent households (8.8%) was six times that in couple-led households (1.4%).

Households without children

Among Canadian households without children, the prevalence of food insecurity was higher among households of unattached individuals (10.5%) than among couple households (3.1%).

Household Food Insecurity in Canada by Household Composition, 2007-2008

This bar graph shows the prevalence of household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008 based on household composition (all households with children and all households without children).

In 2007-2008, in Canada, all households, 7.7 per cent were food insecure: 5.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Canada, all households with children, 9.7 per cent were food insecure: 7.0 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.8 per cent were severely food insecure. Among households with children:

  • 22.9 per cent of lone parent households were food insecure: 14.9 per cent were moderately food insecure and 8.0 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 6.3 per cent of couple led households were food insecure: 4. 9 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.4 per cent were severely food insecure
  • 10.8 per cent of households with at least one child under the age of 6 years were food insecure: 8.0 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.8 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 9.0 per cent of households with no children under the age of 6 were food insecure: 6.3 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 9.0 per cent of households with one or two children were food insecure: 6.4 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.6 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 14.0 per cent of households with three or more children were food insecure: 10.2 per cent were moderately food insecure and 3.8 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • In Canada, all households without children, 6.8 per cent were food insecure: 4.2 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.6 per cent were severely food insecure. Among households without children:
  • 3.1 per cent of couple households were food insecure: 2.2 per cent were moderately food insecure and 0.8 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 10.5 per cent of households of unattached individuals were food insecure: 6.0 per cent were moderately food insecure and 4.5 per cent were severely food insecure.

Source: Health Canada

Data source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 2007-2008 - Share File, Household Weights

Figure 2: Household Food Insecurity in Canada by Household Composition, 2007-2008

Households by Selected Socio-Demographic Characteristics

The prevalence of food insecurity in 2007-2008 varied by selected socio-demographic characteristics.

  • At the national level, the prevalence of food insecurity decreased from the first (lowest) household income distribution decile to the tenth (highest).Footnote 6 In the first decile, more than two out of five (42.8%) food insecure households were considered severely food insecure; the relative proportion of severe food insecurity among food insecure households decreased with increasing household income distribution decile.
Household food insecurity in Canada by household income distribution decile1, 2007-2008

This bar graph shows the prevalence of household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008 by income distribution decile.

  • In 2007-2008, in Canada, all households, 7.7 per cent were food insecure: 5.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 0.3E per cent of the households in the tenth household income distribution decile were food insecure.
  • 0.7 per cent of the households in the ninth household income distribution decile were food insecure.
  • 1.4 per cent of the households in the eighth household income distribution decile were food insecure.
  • 1.9 per cent of the households in the seventh household income distribution decile were food insecure: 1.3 per cent were moderately food insecure and 0.7E per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 3.1 per cent of the households in the sixth household income distribution decile were food insecure: 2.4 per cent were moderately food insecure and 0.8E per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 4.0 per cent of the households in the fifth household income distribution decile were food insecure: 3.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 0.9 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 7.1 per cent of the households in the fourth household income distribution decile were food insecure: 5.2 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.9 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 9.4 per cent of the households in the third household income distribution decile were food insecure: 6.8 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.6 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 14.1 per cent of the households in the second household income distribution decile were food insecure: 9.6 per cent were moderately food insecure and 4.5 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 32.5 per cent of the households in the first household income distribution decile were food insecure: 18. 6 per cent were moderately food insecure and 13.9 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 4.8 per cent of households for which household income data was not available were food insecure: 3.4 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.4 per cent were severely food insecure.

Source: Health Canada

Data source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 2007-2008 – Share File, Household Weights

The superscript E denotes data with a coefficient of variation (CV) from 16.6 per cent to 33.3 per cent; interpret with caution

1 The territories were not included

Figure 3: Household food insecurity in Canada by household income distribution decile1, 2007-2008

Main source of household income

  • Food insecurity was more prevalent in households in which the main source of household income was social assistance (55.5%) or worker's compensation/employment insurance (25.3%) than in households with other main sources of income.
  • Severe food insecurity among households with social assistance as the main source of income was as common (28.2%) as moderate food insecurity (27.3%). Households with salary/wages and those with pensions/seniors' benefits as their main source of income experienced much lower rates of food insecurity (6.1% and 4.8%, respectively).

Highest level of education attained

  • The prevalence of food insecurity was lower in households with post-secondary graduation as the highest level of education achieved in the household (5.8%), compared with those with some post-secondary education (14.0%), secondary graduation (9.2%), or less than secondary graduation (14.0%) as the highest level of education attained.Footnote 7

Aboriginal status

  • Among off-reserve Aboriginal households,Footnote 8 approximately one in five (20.9%) households was food insecure, including 8.4% with severe food insecurity. These rates are approximately three times higher than among non-Aboriginal households where 7.2% were food insecure, including 2.5% with severe food insecurity.

Immigrant status

  • The prevalence of household food insecurity was higher among recent immigrant householdsFootnote 9 (12.6%) compared to non-immigrant households (7.5%) and non-recent immigrant households (7.8%).

Home ownership

  • Not owning a dwelling was related to higher rates of food insecurity, with almost one in six (17.2%) households in this situation considered food insecure, compared with 3.5% of households where the dwelling was owned.

Area of residence

  • Overall, households in urban areas had a higher prevalence of food insecurity (8.1%) than those in rural areas (6.1%).Footnote 10
Household food insecurity in Canada by selected socio-demographic characteristics, 2007-2008

This bar graph shows the prevalence of household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008 based on the following selected socio-demographic characteristics: the main source of income, the highest level of education, Aboriginal status, immigrant status, home ownership and area of residence.

In 2007-2008, in Canada, all households, 7.7 per cent were food insecure: 5.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.

Based on main source of income:

  • 6.1 per cent of households whose main source of income is salary/wages were food insecure: 4.3 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.8 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 55.5 per cent of households whose main source of income is social assistance were food insecure: 27.3 per cent were moderately food insecure and 28.2 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 25.3 per cent of households whose main source of income is worker's compensation/employment insurance were food insecure: 14.2 per cent were moderately food insecure and 11.1 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 4.8 per cent of households whose main source of income is pensions/seniors' benefits were food insecure: 3.3 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.5 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 12.8 per cent of households who had other main sources of income were food insecure: 8.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 4.7 per cent were severely food insecure.

Based on highest level of education achieved in the household:

  • 14.0 per cent of households with less than secondary graduation were food insecure: 8.4 per cent were moderately food insecure and 5.6 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 9.2 per cent of households with secondary graduation were food insecure: 6.0 per cent were moderately food insecure and 3.2 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 14.0 per cent of households with some post-secondary graduation were food insecure: 8.6 per cent were moderately food insecure and 5.4 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 5.8 per cent of households with post-secondary graduation were food insecure: 3.9 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.9 per cent were severely food insecure.

Based on Aboriginal status:

  • 20.9 per cent of Aboriginal households were food insecure: 12.5 per cent were moderately food insecure and 8.4 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 7.2 per cent of non-Aboriginal households were food insecure: 4.8 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.5 per cent were severely food insecure.

Based on immigrant status:

  • 7.5 per cent of non-immigrant households were food insecure: 4.8 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 7.8 per cent of non-recent immigrant households (equal to or greater than 5 years) were food insecure: 5.7 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.2 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 12.6 per cent of recent immigrant households (less than 5 years) were food insecure: 8.8 per cent were moderately food insecure and 3.8E per cent were severely food insecure.

Based on home ownership:

  • 3.5 per cent of households who own their dwelling were food insecure: 2.7 per cent were moderately food insecure and 0.8 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 17.2 per cent of households who do not own their dwelling were food insecure: 10.3 per cent were moderately food insecure and 6.9 per cent were severely food insecure.

Based on area of residence:

  • 8.1 per cent of households who reside in an urban area were food insecure: 5.2 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.9 per cent were severely food insecure.
  • 6.1 per cent of households who reside in a rural area were food insecure: 4.3 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.8 per cent were severely food insecure.

Source: Health Canada

Data source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 2007-2008 - Share File, Household Weights

The superscript E denotes data with a coefficient of variation (CV) from 16.6 per cent to 33.3 per cent; interpret with caution

Figure 4: Household food insecurity in Canada by selected socio-demographic characteristics, 2007-2008

Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity in the Provinces and Territories

In 2007-2008, household food insecurity in the provinces ranged from 6.3% in Saskatchewan to 10.6% in Prince Edward Island. In the territories, the prevalence of food insecurity was 11.6% in the Yukon, 12.4% in the Northwest Territories and 32.6% in Nunavut.Footnote 11

Household food insecurity by province and territory, 2007-2008

This bar graph shows the prevalence of household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008 for all provinces and territories.

In 2007-2008, in Canada, all households, 7.7 per cent were food insecure: 5.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.

In British Columbia:

  • In 2007-2008, 7.7 per cent of all households were food insecure: 4.8 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.9 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Alberta:

  • In 2007-2008, 6.4 per cent of all households were food insecure: 4.5 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.9 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Saskatchewan:

  • In 2007-2008, 6.3 per cent of all households were food insecure: 4.6 per cent were moderately food insecure and 1.6 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Manitoba:

  • In 2007-2008, 9.3 per cent of all households were food insecure: 6.3 per cent were moderately food insecure and 3.1 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Ontario:

  • In 2007-2008, 8.2 per cent of all households were food insecure: 5.2 per cent were moderately food insecure and 3.0 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Quebec:

  • In 2007-2008, 6.9 per cent of all households were food insecure: 4.6 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.3 per cent were severely food insecure.

In New Brunswick:

  • In 2007-2008, 9.7 per cent of all households were food insecure: 6.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 3.6 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Nova Scotia:

  • In 2007-2008, 9.3 per cent of all households were food insecure:6.6 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Prince Edward Island:

  • In 2007-2008, 10.6 per cent of all households were food insecure: 7.7 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.9 per cent were severely food insecure.

In Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • In 2007-2008, 9.6 per cent of all households were food insecure: 7.0 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.7 per cent were severely food insecure.

In the Yukon:

  • In 2007-2008, 11.6 per cent of all households were food insecure: 6.4E per cent were moderately food insecure and 5.2E per cent were severely food insecure.

In the Northwest Territories:

  • In 2007-2008, 12.4 per cent of all households were food insecure: 9.8 per cent were moderately food insecure and 2.6E per cent were severely food insecure.

In Nunavut:

  • In 2007-2008, 32.6 per cent of all households were food insecure: 21.1 per cent were moderately food insecure and 11.5E per cent were severely food insecure.

Source: Health Canada

Data source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 2007-2008 - Share File, Household Weights

The superscript E denotes data with a coefficient of variation (CV) from 16.6 per cent to 33.3 per cent; interpret with caution

Figure 5: Household food insecurity by province and territory, 2007-2008

In 2007-2008, the prevalence of food insecurity in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta was significantly lower than the national average. In British Columbia, it did not differ significantly from the national average. However, food insecurity was significantly higher than the national average in the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, Manitoba and the territories.

Map: Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity, Canada, 2007-2008

Map of Canada showing if food insecurity in each of the provinces and territories in 2007-2008 was below the Canadian average, near the Canadian average or above the Canadian average.

British Columbia: Near Canadian Average
Alberta: Below Canadian Average
Saskatchewan: Below Canadian Average
Manitoba: Above Canadian Average
Ontario: Above Canadian Average
Quebec: Below Canadian Average
New Brunswick: Above Canadian Average
Nova Scotia: Above Canadian Average
Prince Edward Island: Above Canadian Average
Newfoundland and Labrador: Above Canadian Average
Yukon Territory: Above Canadian Average
Northwest Territories: Above Canadian Average
Nunavut: Above Canadian Average

Source: Health Canada

Data source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 2007-2008 – Share File, Household Weights

Map: Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity, Canada, 2007-2008

More Information

Detailed summary data tables on household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008 are available upon request from the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

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