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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 6, pp 430–434 | Cite as

Can Households Earning Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia Afford a Nutritious Diet?

  • Patricia L. WilliamsEmail author
  • C. Shanthi Jacob Johnson
  • Christine P. Johnson
  • Barbara J. Anderson
  • Meredith L. V. Kratzmann
  • Cathy Chenhall
Article
  • 2 Downloads

Abstract

Objective

To assess the affordability of a nutritious diet for households earning minimum wage in Nova Scotia.

Methods

Food costing data were collected in 43 randomly selected grocery stores throughout NS in 2002 using the National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB). To estimate the affordability of a nutritious diet for households earning minimum wage, average monthly costs for essential expenses were subtracted from overall income to see if enough money remained for the cost of the NNFB. This was calculated for three types of household: 1) two parents and two children; 2) lone parent and two children; and 3) single male. Calculations were also made for the proposed 2006 minimum wage increase with expenses adjusted using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Results

The monthly cost of the NNFB priced in 2002 for the three types of household was $572.90, $351.68, and $198.73, respectively. Put into the context of basic living, these data showed that Nova Scotians relying on minimum wage could not afford to purchase a nutritious diet and meet their basic needs, placing their health at risk. These basic expenses do not include other routine costs, such as personal hygiene products, household and laundry cleaners, and prescriptions and costs associated with physical activity, education or savings for unexpected expenses.

Conclusion

People working at minimum wage in Nova Scotia have not had adequate income to meet basic needs, including a nutritious diet. The 2006 increase in minimum wage to $7.15/hr is inadequate to ensure that Nova Scotians working at minimum wage are able to meet these basic needs. Wage increases and supplements, along with supports for expenses such as childcare and transportation, are indicated to address this public health problem.

MeSHterms

Diet family finance low-income population Nova Scotia poverty social welfare 

Résumé

Objectif

Évaluer l’abordabilité d’un régime alimentaire nutritif pour les ménages qui gagnent le salaire minimum en Nouvelle-Écosse.

Méthode

Nous avons recueilli des données sur le prix des aliments dans 43 épiceries de Nouvelle-Écosse sélectionnées au hasard en 2002 selon la mesure du Panier de provisions nutritif (PPN). Pour estimer l’abordabilité d’un régime alimentaire nutritif pour les ménages gagnant le salaire minimum, nous avons soustrait du revenu global la valeur mensuelle moyenne des dépenses essentielles pour déterminer s’il restait assez d’argent pour acheter le PPN. Nous avons fait ce calcul pour trois types de ménages: 1) deux parents et deux enfants; 2) un seul parent et deux enfants; et 3) un homme célibataire. Nous avons aussi tenu compte de l’augmentation proposée du salaire minimum en 2006 en ajustant les dépenses selon l’indice des prix à la consommation (IPC).

Résultats

Les coûts mensuels du PPN en 2002 pour les trois types de ménages étaient de 572,90 $, de 351,68 $ et de 198,73 $, respectivement. Ces données montrent que dans la vie quotidienne, les Néo-Écossais qui subsistent au salaire minimum ne pouvaient pas se permettre un régime alimentaire nutritif tout en répondant à leurs besoins fondamentaux, au risque de nuire à leur santé. Les dépenses de base n’incluaient pas les autres coûts habituels, comme l’achat d’articles d’hygiène personnelle, de produits d’entretien ménager et de détergents à lessive ou de médicaments, ni les coûts associés à l’activité physique, aux études ou aux imprévus.

Conclusion

Les travailleurs au salaire minimum en Nouvelle-Écosse ne gagnent pas un revenu suffisant pour répondre à leurs besoins fondamentaux, y compris le besoin d’un régime alimentaire nutritif. La hausse, en 2006, du salaire minimum à 7,15 $ l’heure ne comble pas cet écart. La résolution de ce problème de santé publique impliquerait des hausses et des suppléments de salaire, ainsi que des services de garde et de transports subventionnés.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia L. Williams
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • C. Shanthi Jacob Johnson
    • 3
  • Christine P. Johnson
    • 2
  • Barbara J. Anderson
    • 4
  • Meredith L. V. Kratzmann
    • 2
  • Cathy Chenhall
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Applied Human NutritionMount Saint Vincent UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Atlantic Health Promotion Research CentreDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.School of Nutrition & DieteticsAcadia UniversityWolfevilleCanada
  4. 4.Public Health Services, Annapolis Valley HealthSouth Shore Health, South West HealthBridgewaterCanada
  5. 5.Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and ProtectionHalifaxCanada

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