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January 29, 2007
Medical Officer of Health calls for action on nutrition
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, is calling on the Ontario government to create a Nutrition Allowance that provides social assistance recipients with benefits tied to the real costs of healthy eating.

A report to the Board of Health shows the price of the Nutritious Food Basket, a tool to measure the cost of healthy eating, has increased 16.5 per cent since 1999. Dr. McKeown said people living on a low or fixed income in Toronto cannot afford to meet their nutritional needs.

“There is a disconnect between what the government provides in benefit rates and the actual cost of eating for good health.” The report outlines the reality of living on social assistance in Toronto where the high cost of housing leaves individuals and families with no money for basic needs.

“We know there is a strong link between poverty and poor health,” said Dr. McKeown. “Many Toronto residents are forced to choose between paying the rent and buying healthy food. This situation is unacceptable and must be addressed on an urgent basis.”

The report also recommends the provincial minimum wage be increased to allow low-income workers to purchase adequate nutritious food.

The report is being presented at 1 p.m. today at the monthly meeting of the Board of Health in Committee Room 1.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Rishma Govani
Toronto Public Health



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