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Advocacy & Issues 04/17/2024

Federal Budget 2024 aimed to make life more affordable through the allocation of significant funds to enhance the social safety net. These investments are welcome and long overdue.

However, the budget failed to tackle affordability head-on: it lacks tangible and direct income support for the millions of Canadians who face grinding poverty and the highest rates of food insecurity in our history—nearly 25 percent of our population.

Our analysis of the 2024 budget below includes what fell short, what works well, what we will keep an eye on, and what we’ll be advocating for over the next year.

What was greatly anticipated, but fell short

Canada Disability Benefit

Nearly 30% of families where the main income earner has a disability also experience food insecurity. With this challenging reality in mind, we were anxiously awaiting the announcement of a robust and comprehensive Canada Disability Benefit.

While we recognize that historic funding was committed to the new Canada Disability Benefit, it falls far short of what is required to pull people living with a disability out of poverty. The maximum annual benefit of $2,400 - or $200 a month - is wholly inadequate and will not move the needle on poverty or food insecurity rates for people with disabilities. 

In addition, although the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) was allotted federal funding to support people with its application process, it remains a restrictive program and a flawed approach to determining eligibility for the CDB. 

An adequately funded CDB is a priority for Community Food Centres Canada and our more than 350 partners across the country. We will be actively engaging on this issue, calling for the benefit to be increased and eligibility expanded with the goal of eradicating disability poverty. 

What we like about the Budget

Social Safety Net programs

We are pleased to see Budget 2024 significantly strengthen the social safety net. 

While these programs will not significantly diminish the historically high rates of food insecurity, they will free up money for people, improve quality of life, and help provide some stability for those working in jobs with low wages, few to no benefits, and unpredictable work hours.

In particular, we are pleased to see investments in a National School Food Program, Universal Pharmacare, a Canada Dental Care Plan, Affordable Housing, and Child Care. 

National School Food Program

Budget 2024’s $1 billion commitment over five years to create a National School Food Program is a positive step. While this program will not turn the tables on the 1 in 4 kids who experience food insecurity, it’s an important and positive step which will help nurture healthy eating habits in children and support their success in school. 

Universal Pharmacare 

CFCC supports the recently introduced Pharmacare Act. We know that nearly 50% of adults in households experiencing severe food insecurity reduce, delay, or skip their prescription medication because they can’t afford it. If properly implemented, Pharmacare could help mitigate tough decisions people often have to make between paying for medication and meeting other basic needs, including food.

The Pharmacare Act currently aims to cover diabetes medications and contraception, which is a start, but it urgently needs to expand to cover other essential medications as soon as possible. Roll-out should also be barrier- and stigma-free.

Affordable Housing

Budget 2024 prioritizes investments to address Canada’s affordable housing crisis. Since housing affordability is directly tied to food insecurity we welcome this focus. Increasingly, for many, after they pay their housing costs, there is little left for food. 

We are particularly pleased to see in Budget 2024: 

  • An additional $1 billion to launch a new Rapid Housing team under the Affordable Housing Fund towards the goal of building 60,000 new affordable homes and repairing 240,000 additional homes by 2031;
  • $477.2 million starting in 2024-2025, and $147.8 million thereafter, towards launching a $1.5 billion Canada Rental Protection Fund to protect Canada’s affordable housing stock;
  • Additional $1.3 billion over four years, starting in 2024-25, towards Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, to stabilize funding under the program, accelerate community-level reductions in homelessness, and urgently address encampments and unsheltered homelessness.

Providing non-profits with funds to acquire existing rental housing will keep rents affordable and more people housed. As well, the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) enhancements announced in February 2024 will help renters to keep their housing. Given the interconnectedness of food insecurity and housing affordability, we support the calls from within the housing sector to further enhance and expand the CHB. 

To further remove barriers and reach people before they fall into homelessness or core housing need, we believe the CHB should be delivered through the tax system like the Canada Child Benefit.

In addition, to ensure housing remains affordable in perpetuity, affordable housing targets should be attached to all elements of the newly introduced Canada Housing Plan, and any provincial housing funding should be conditional on introducing rent control.

Affordable Child Care Spaces

Affordable child care is often a barrier to seeking employment and can significantly affect a family’s monthly budget. Creating the infrastructure to make more $10-a-day child care spaces available is an important part of the social safety net that we fully support.

Equitable Access to Benefits and Services

A perennial challenge with benefits delivered through the tax system is that people who do not file taxes, often those in low-income households or people who live in remote areas, are being left out. 

We are encouraged by the steps taken in budget 2024 to pilot auto-tax-filing programs. We hope that these programs will ensure people receive the benefits to which they are entitled so they may better address their food needs.

What we’ll be advocating for

A target to reduce food insecurity

It is disappointing that this budget did not establish a target to reduce food insecurity by 50% from 2021 levels by 2030. 

Having a target drives accountability and would ensure budgets such as this one are measured against their ability to meet set targets. 

As advocated for by a broad coalition of industry and civil society partners from across the country, this target would go a long way to galvanizing action to address the crisis levels of food insecurity in this country. We will continue to mobilize around this key recommendation. 

Investment in income support for those who need it most

Although the budget makes critical investments in the social safety net, it does not significantly invest in direct income support for people living in poverty. 

We know that ensuring people have enough income in their pocket to purchase the food they need is the best way to tackle food insecurity. 

We will continue to advocate for direct income support in the form of:

  • Enhancements to the Canada Workers Benefit, including extending the benefit to include people between the ages of 18-64, whether they are  working or not. This is a group that experiences deep poverty and requires greater attention and support. 
  • A Groceries & Essential Benefit that would provide an income-tested monthly benefit of $150 per adult and $50 per child.
  • A more generous and accessible Employment Insurance program that reflects current labour market realities.

Indigenous and Black communities experience food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than their white counterparts and we will continue to advocate for social and income policies to be equitably implemented in order to reach populations at highest risk of food insecurity. We are also working in collaboration with CFCC’s Indigenous Network to ensure we incorporate an Indigenous-centric approach to all future policy advocacy.


This Budget took much-needed steps to enhance Canada’s social safety net. These investments will help to improve people's quality of life and we commend the federal government for moving on this front. 

However, it is disappointing that the federal government decided not to use this budget to immediately increase direct income support to better help the 6.9 million Canadians experiencing food insecurity. As an organization that is focussed on food security and supporting the federal government to deliver on its commitment to the right to food, more urgent action needed to be taken to advance these issues. 

In the coming year we will work with our many partners toward creating a country where everyone has a dignified and healthy seat at the table.  

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