Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 106, Issue 5, pp e322–e327 | Cite as

Changes in household food insecurity rates in Canadian metropolitan areas from 2007 to 2012

  • Urshila SriramEmail author
  • Valerie Tarasuk
Quantitative Research



The socio-demographic characteristics of food-insecure households in Canada have been well characterized, but there is little understanding of what drives the prevalence rates. This study was undertaken to estimate the prevalence of household food insecurity by census metropolitan area (CMA), compare prevalence rates within CMAs and within provinces over time, and assess the effect of local area economic characteristics on changes in CMA food insecurity rates.


Data from the 2007–2012 annual components of the Canadian Community Health Survey were used to generate food insecurity rates for 33 CMAs and the corresponding nine provinces, and to compare changes in prevalence over time. Fixed-effects multiple linear regression analysis was applied to examine associations between changes in food insecurity and local area economic factors, considering peak unemployment rate, average number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries, vacancy rate, poverty rate and poverty gap.


Food insecurity rates ranged from 19.9% in Halifax to 9.0% in Quebec City in 2011–2012. Rates within and between CMAs were much more variable than provincial rates. Between 2007–2008 and 2011–2012, the prevalence increased significantly in Halifax, Montreal, Peterborough, Guelph, Calgary and Abbotsford, but decreased in Hamilton. Among the economic characteristics examined, only rising peak unemployment rates were linked to increases in food insecurity in CMAs.


Our results suggest that policy initiatives to expand employment opportunities, improve the quality and stability of employment, and increase benefits for disadvantaged workers could reduce the prevalence of food insecurity within CMAs.

Key Words

Food insecurity census metropolitan areas unemployment Canada 



Les caractéristiques sociodémographiques des ménages en situation d’insécurité alimentaire au Canada ont été bien étudiées, mais on connaît mal les éléments moteurs des taux de prévalence. Nous avons cherché à estimer la prévalence de l’insécurité alimentaire des ménages par région métropolitaine de recensement (RMR), à comparer les taux de prévalence au sein des RMR et des provinces au fil du temps, ainsi qu’à évaluer l’effet des caractéristiques économiques locales sur les changements dans les taux d’insécurité alimentaire des RMR.


Nous avons utilisé les données des composantes annuelles de 2007 à 2012 de l’Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes pour générer les taux d’insécurité alimentaire dans 33 RMR et les neuf provinces correspondantes, et pour comparer les changements temporels dans la prévalence. Nous avons appliqué une analyse de régression linéaire multiple à effets fixes pour examiner les associations entre les changements dans l’insécurité alimentaire et les facteurs économiques locaux, compte tenu du sommet du taux de chômage, du nombre moyen de prestataires de l’assurance-emploi, du taux d’inoccupation, du taux de pauvreté et de l’écart de pauvreté.


Les taux d’insécurité alimentaire se situaient entre 19,9 % à Halifax et 9 % à Québec en 2011–2012. Les taux à l’intérieur et entre les RMR étaient beaucoup plus variables que les taux provinciaux. Entre 2007–2008 et 2011–2012, la prévalence de l’insécurité alimentaire a considérablement augmenté à Halifax, Montréal, Peterborough, Guelph, Calgary et Abbotsford, mais elle a diminué à Hamilton. De toutes les caractéristiques économiques examinées, seule la hausse du sommet du taux de chômage était liée à l’augmentation de l’insécurité alimentaire dans les RMR.


Nos résultats indiquent que des initiatives stratégiques pour développer les occasions d’emploi, améliorer la qualité et la stabilité de l’emploi et bonifier les prestations des travailleurs défavorisés pourraient réduire la prévalence de l’insécurité alimentaire dans les RMR.

Mots Clés

insécurité alimentaire régions métropolitaines de recensement chômage Canada 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutritional SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Division of Nutritional SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaCanada

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