Kenora MP Eric Melillo says the federal government needs to step in and act to address a growing food insecurity crisis across Canada, which goes hand-in-hand with our economy’s inflation crisis.

His comments come after the results of a Canada-wide survey were released on Monday, where nearly 20 per cent of Canadians said they were reducing meal sizes or skipping meals altogether in order to save money to survive Canada’s rising grocery costs.

“Food insecurity is a great concern right now, especially here in northwestern Ontario. People need support and people need policies from the government that will help to ring down the costs,” said Melillo, in an interview with the Q Morning Show.

Through the survey, respondents say they’re using coupons or hunting for sales to cope with increasing costs, and just over 30 per cent say they’re eating less healthy food because of the price difference.

About 54 per cent said they’ve switched to meal plans to ensure they have enough cash for food. As well, about 59 per cent, said they were also decreasing their household food waste.

About 5 per cent of survey respondents said they had stolen food out of necessity, and another five per cent said they had used a community food bank or a similar service. Food Banks Canada reports 1.5 million visits to food banks in March, a rate that’s 15 per cent higher than last year.

“This government has spent millions of dollars over the last few years to lower food costs but each year, less people are able to put food on the table,” adds Melillo.

“I don’t think we’ve seen a government that has spent so much to see such poor results over the last few years. Our party will keep fighting to stop the inflationary deficit. We’re fighting to lower taxes for Canadians. We’re fighting to make life more affordable for the north.”

While the country’s annual inflation rate dropped to 6.9 per cent in September, down 0.3 per cent from August, the cost of groceries has continued to rise. Grocery prices increased at the fastest rate since August 1981, with prices up 11.4 per cent across the board compared to one year ago.

A personal finance survey from July found that 7.3 million Canadians over the age of 18 used loans or went into debt to keep up with inflation, which peaked at 8.1 per cent that month. As well, nearly 60 per cent say they’ve had to significantly reduce their spending habits.

Most respondents — just over 79 per cent — supported an increase to the minimum wage in their provinces. However, there was opposition to strategies that saw an increase or creation of taxes.

The survey by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan was conducted from Sept. 6 to Oct. 17. It asked 1,001 people about strategies to cope with increasing food costs.