Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp e68–e74 | Cite as

Implicating municipalities in addressing household food insecurity in Canada: A pan-Canadian analysis of news print media coverage

  • Patricia A. CollinsEmail author
  • Megan Gaucher
  • Elaine M. Power
  • Margaret H. Little
Quantitative Research


OBJECTIVES: Household food insecurity (HFI) affects approximately 13% of Canadian households and is especially prevalent among low-income households. Actions to address HFI have been occurring primarily at the local level, despite calls for greater income supports from senior governments to reduce poverty. News media may be reinforcing this trend, by emphasizing food-based solutions to HFI and the municipal level as the site where action needs to take place. The objective of this study was to examine the level and framing of print news media coverage of HFI action in Canada.

METHODS: Using a quantitative newspaper content analysis approach, we analyzed 547 articles gathered from 2 national and 16 local/regional English-language newspapers published between January 2007 and December 2012.

RESULTS: News coverage increased over time, and over half was produced from Ontario (33%) and British Columbia (22%) combined. Of the 374 articles that profiled a specific action, community gardens/urban agriculture was most commonly profiled (17%), followed by food banks/meal programs (13%); 70% of articles implicated governments to take action on HFI, and of these, 43% implicated municipal governments. Article tone was notably more negative when senior governments were profiled and more neutral and positive when municipal governments were profiled.

CONCLUSION: News media reporting of this issue in Canada may be placing pressure on municipalities to engage in food-based actions to address HFI. A more systematic approach to HFI action in Canada will require more balanced media reporting that acknowledges the limitations of food-based solutions to the income-based problem of HFI.

Key Words

Food insecurity poverty municipalities newspapers media analysis Canada 


OBJECTIFS: L’insécurité alimentaire des ménages (IAM) touche environ 13 % des ménages canadiens et prévaut particulièrement parmi les ménages à faible revenu. Les mesures de lutte contre l’IAM se prennent principalement à l’échelon local, malgré les appels à un meilleur soutien du revenu auprès des paliers de gouvernement supérieurs afin de réduire la pauvreté. Il est possible que les médias d’information renforcent cette tendance en mettant l’accent sur les solutions alimentaires à l’IAM et en faisant valoir que les mesures devraient se prendre à l’échelon municipal. Notre étude visait à examiner le palier de gouvernement et le cadrage de la couverture des mesures de lutte contre l’IAM présentés dans la presse écrite au Canada.

MÉTHODE: À l’aide d’une démarche d’analyse quantitative du contenu des journaux, nous avons analysé 547 articles recueillis dans deux journaux nationaux et 16 journaux locaux ou régionaux de langue anglaise parus entre janvier 2007 et décembre 2012.

RÉSULTATS: La couverture médiatique a augmenté avec le temps, et plus de la moitié des articles ont été rédigés soit en Ontario (33 %), soit en Colombie-Britannique (22 %). Sur les 374 articles portant sur une mesure particulière, les articles sur les jardins communautaires/l’agriculture urbaine ont été les plus courants (17 %), suivis de ceux sur les banques alimentaires/les programmes de dépannage alimentaire (13 %); 70 % des articles demandaient aux gouvernements d’agir pour contrer l’IAM, et de ce nombre, 43 % interpellaient les administrations municipales. Le ton des articles était remarquablement plus négatif quand il était question des paliers de gouvernement supérieurs et plus neutre ou positif quand il était question des administrations municipales.

CONCLUSION: Il est possible que les reportages des médias d’information sur cette question au Canada fassent pression sur les municipalités pour qu’elles prennent des mesures alimentaires afin de lutter contre l’IAM. Une démarche plus systématique pour aborder les mesures de lutte contre l’IAM au Canada nécessitera des reportages médiatiques plus équilibrés, qui reconnaissent les contraintes des solutions alimentaires au problème de l’IAM fondée sur le revenu.

Mots Clés

insécurité alimentaire pauvreté municipalités journaux analyse média Canada 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia A. Collins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Megan Gaucher
    • 2
  • Elaine M. Power
    • 3
  • Margaret H. Little
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Geography and PlanningQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Gender and Women’s StudiesTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada
  3. 3.School of Kinesiology and Health StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  4. 4.Departments of Political Studies and Gender StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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