The number of Canadians who struggled to put food on the table skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic according to the non-profit Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC).

According to their recent report, the CFCC says the number of Canadians facing food shortages grew 39% in the first two months of the pandemic, now affecting 1 in 7 Canadians.

“More and more Canadians are relying on an increasingly precarious labour market and low-wage jobs and a restrictive and inadequate Employment Insurance program when they get laid off,” they wrote. 

“The cost of housing, child care, prescriptions and food is increasing sharply. More and more people are living alone and shouldering these costs on one income.”

Experts have recently determined that government lockdowns are not only leaving many Canadians unemployed, but also lead to an increase in food prices across Canada.

In September, Dalhousie University’s Agri-food Analytics Lab determined that Canadian grocery bills increased by 4% this year, with price hikes attributed to the increased costs for businesses to operate during coronavirus restrictions.

Of those surveyed by the CFCC, 81% said food shortage has taken a toll on their physical health, with 79% it has taken a toll on their mental health.

While many Canadians struggle with putting food on the table, members of the agriculture community have said the pandemic has put food security in jeopardy for the whole country.

In the summer, the Grain Farmers of Ontario reported that many farms will not survive the pandemic without support from the federal government.

“We are at a real breaking point. The federal government continues to ask farmers to bear all of the risk associated with securing Canada’s food system and takes no action to partner with us in this risk,” Chair Markus Haerle said.

Unlike the United States, Canada has provided little support to farmers during the pandemic.

“Our farmer-members will lose money on every acre of corn, with no way to regain those losses, while our U.S. counterparts will be able to survive these losses thanks to support from their government,” Haerle said.

Without Canadian farmers, consumers will be more dependent on the United States and China to meet their needs.