The Market Basket Measure (MBM):  This measure  includes the cost of food, shelter, clothing, transportation and other costs of living related to a household and recreation and what proportion of the market basket that an individual living on Ontario Works (OW) is able to afford. Source:

The cost of healthy food:  The cost of healthy food is now expressed as the new Food Basket Rate in 2010. A $100 healthy food supplement for all Ontarians on social assistance has been suggested as a start to rectify this situation. Healthy eating is imperative for health, for the prevention of obesity and chronic disease, and for growth development.

Using the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) estimates, a Niagara family of four (same composition as the NFB reference family) with a minimum wage earner would need to spend 31 per cent of their earnings on food.  The same family, if receiving OW would need to spend 36 per cent of their income on food, whereas the average Niagara household would need to dedicate only 9.7 per cent of their income to buy the same basket of food.  As access to healthy food becomes further out of reach for low income households, the negative and long term impacts of poverty are exacerbated. Source:  Province of Ontario. (2010) “The First Year:  Achievements and Success Indicators.”


The cost of healthy eating becomes increasingly out of reach for many individuals, children, and families in Niagara, as the gap widens between income and the cost of necessities, particularly housing.  Individuals and families with low income, notably those in receipt of social assistance, are spending an exceptionally high proportion of their income on shelter (approximately 50-90%) compared to the 30% of income that is generally recommended.

The cost of basic healthy eating according to NFB findings for 2009 for the reference family of four (a man and a woman each aged 31-50 years, a boy aged 14-18, and a girl aged 4-8) was $167.74 weekly ($727 monthly).  This data, as well as results for single males by age group, are presented below.

Source:  Niagara Region, Report to Public Health and Social Services Committee, March 9, 2010, Subject:  Poverty and Healthy Eating.

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