Impact of food deserts in Canadian Cities on Urban Areas Residents

Impact of food deserts in Canadian Cities on Urban Areas Residents


Food deserts refer to the place with minimal access to healthy affordable foods. Many cities in the world have serious food deserts. It is worth noting that food desert is associated with low income and diet-related health problems. People living in food deserts are likely to suffer from the health complications such as heart diseases, diabetes and cancer. Most of the shops with quality and high standards of food are built in new suburbs. The population of the smaller shops are also declining in certain areas because of the low purchasing power of the residents. The rising population and the unequal distribution of food accessibility is resulting to the rise of food deserts in cities, which also lead a healthy risk among some of the urban areas residents. The paper seeks to explore on whether there are food deserts in the Canadian cities and how the presence of these urban area residents. Through searching on the secondary sources, the paper presents a detailed understanding on the food access in the urban areas especially in Canada. This research focusses on the effect of food deserts in the cities of Canada.

Research Question

The research question that the paper seeks to examine is “How do the food deserts in Canadian Cities Affect Urban Areas Residents?”

Objectives of the Research

The results of the study will be based on gathering data on the accessibility to food sources in Canadian cities such as whether everyone is able to access the farmer’s markets and supermarkets. With the low-income earners in the urban areas widely affected by the presence of disparity and inequality in access to quality and healthy food, the paper focuses widely on low income earning residential areas in major Canadian cities to gather fundamental data on the food accessibility. The results will be critical in recommending allocation of farmer’s market in some of these areas while also availing the different players in the urban planning and nutrition with important information on essence of access to healthy food. The paper will also demonstrate the health risks of limited access to healthy food in the urban areas through conveying on existing diet-related diseases or conditions that the low-income earners in major Canadian cities unable to access healthy and quality food experience. In additi LUO2 planners on ways to present these low-income earners with the alternative sources of food that is healthy and quality to ensure their health and wellbeing is fully attained.

Literature Review

Recent statistics shows that more than 235,000 families, which comprise of 1.3 million individuals, were living in pathetic conditions because of the inadequate income in the urban region of Canada. The population of low-income people keeps on increasing per year (Martin, Ghosh, Page, Wolff, McMinimee, & Zhang, 2014). According to the fact-findings, there was 14% increase of both men and women earning low income in Canada in 2016. As a result, they cannot afford healthy goods from the supermarkets and other average retail shops. They end up purchasing goods of low quality that are harmful to their health. Some of the cities experiencing with high levels of food deserts include Toronto, Laval, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary (Lu, & Qiu, 2015). There are many programs in place to reduce the desert foods challenges because of desert food. For instance, the federal government is planning to increase the resources to reduce the population affected by poverty in the urban regions. The increase in the resources will also provide other basic commodities such as food and shelter. In addition, the government is struggling to provide new subsidy programs to help the affected persons (Vanolo, 2012). Consequently, there are also many factors, which lead to food desert in the urban region of Canada. For example, inadequate income and lack of employment are some of the factors, which spur desert food in Canada. The issue of desert food remains to be a tenacious community health problem in Canada Urban regions. For instance, in the year 2013, the number of individuals admitted in hospitals due to health complications associated with unhealthy goods reached its peak (Vanolo, 2012). About a third of the entire low income population suffer from at least one severe psychological illness, and about 60% of this population further suffer from substance abuse illnesses because they cannot afford healthy goods.


Current state of Food Desert Canada

Desert food is one of the problems affecting people of Canada. There are many factors, which make people face shortage of food in Canada. There is a need to develop reliable plans to reduce the rate of desert food in Canada. The government struggles to provide the policies for dealing with this devastating issue in Canada. For instance, the government passes laws and policies to reduce the rates of unemployment to encourage people to purchase quality foods. However, the government cannot achieve 100% plan of providing quality food to all Canadians due certain forces that are beyond control (Lu, & Qiu, 2015). For instance, natural disasters affect plans of the government to reduce the population facing food desert. As a result, the governments should identify specific causes of desert food and find the possible solutions. Apparently, desert food affects many people in the Canada. Currently, more than 60,000 families live in deplorable conditions because they cannot afford the high cost of living. According to statistics, 10% of the total population represents children who cannot access education and other social services and healthy food because of desert food (Vanolo, 2012). Canada is among the most affected states in the globe by desert food. Therefore, the analysis of state of desert food in Canada will help in coming up with remedies that reduces the devastating effects which emanate from desert food.

Desert food in Canada

Largely civic policy has explicated that low incomes were the major predictor of desert food. Creating affordable food options, more specifically, had been the focal point of Canada’s Mayors since about the mid-nineteen-eighties. However, the ‘new’ desert food that cities were dealing with was borne of a new economic and political landscape. Many of the early responses to the crisis failed to view desert food as more than a food issue, a short-sighted view that expounded the crises. The largely undefined desert food policies of past mayors gave rise to objectors on both sides of the argument (Martin, Ghosh, Page, Wolff, McMinimee, & Zhang, 2014). There were those who sought to extend more resources to the community; access to mental health, drug and alcohol counseling, as well as job training (Lu, & Qiu, 2015). While community activists attempted to stem the rising tide of shelters and clinics in their neighborhoods. Every policy and community struggle illustrated the need for both alternative food options and a nuanced support system.

Allocating food in the area of greatest need seemed like a prudent idea. However, lack of a comprehensive strategy, and support services, this action caused more hardship on already stressed communities. However, these impoverished areas notched a small victory with a “fair share” provision in a 1990 charter that limited “the urban region from loading up shelters in poor communities”. Desert food and community advocates counted this among many improvements in the fight to end desert food (Páez, Gertes Mercado, Farber, Morency, & Roorda, 2010). Community organizations and non-profits grew during this period (fostering a climate of both public and political advocacy). These ‘market corrections’ indirectly established a ‘business’ of desert food and poverty. With all good intentions aside, the institutionalization of desert food had a normalizing effect on both the public and elected officials. Indeed, the method of dealing with the epidemic created one of the major hurdles to eradicating it. Seen primarily as a problem of food, lawyers and advocates further prodded the urban region to utilize in rem (urban region-owned, tax delinquent) properties. These in rem shelters were often converted into family- and permanent food.

Causes of Desert food in Canada

High cost of living in Canada

High cost of food in Canada remains to be a cardinal driver, which render many families desert food. For instance, the recent data shows that the vacancy rate in 2014 was 3.45%. The inadequate space for the construction of more shops has led to an increase in the rates of shortage of healthy foods. People end up overcrowding in a small piece of land that is not sufficient to produce more foods. The level of income does not favor many people to secure houses in Canada (Koskela & Pain, 2000). For example, research done in 2014 shows that people are paying more than half of their salaries to other basic wants such as shelter and clothes. For this reason, they lack funds to purchase health foods. The wages of people cannot pay the required cost of renting in Canada. There are other factors, which lead to high cost of food. For instance, overcrowding of people in a particular place makes other people to create space for others.


An inadequate job opportunity is another major cause of desert food in the US. The increasing population in the US poses a challenge in the environment. For instance, the population of people cannot match the available employment opportunities. The cost of food in Canada is high and requires high levels of income. However, few job opportunities make people to live other individuals in the same house. According to the research, the unemployment rate in Canada increase by 5.7% in 2016 (Martin, Ghosh, Page, Wolff, McMinimee, & Zhang, 2014). In addition, there is also an increase in retrenchment of the workers. People lose their working status every year. As a result, they cannot afford to earn salaries and pay their bills like rent and others. Canada has experienced various cases riots because of the inadequate working opportunities. High unemployment rate increases the demand for shelter. It is also important to note that the nature of jobs determines whether the individual will pay the required cost of food or not. For instance, seasonal jobs are always predictable because they render people desert food (Koskela & Pain, 2000). Individuals will be able to pay for the cost of food during the working period and eventually become desert food because he or she cannot manage to pay for the cost of food. Job markets place many low-income families at risk of losing their shelters. The available job opportunities are not sufficient for the works to save for more than three months. As a result, workers can only meet the recurrent expenses within thirty days after losing the job.

Failed policy legacies

Most of the people find themselves in that condition because of the irrelevant polices and rules which regulate the existence of food in Canada. There is a need to develop a relevant and accurate resource allocation system which offers safety and perpetuity to citizens. There are various programs, which aim at reducing the rate of desert food in Canada. The failed policies of Justin Trudeau administration has led to an increase in the rate of desert food in Canada. For example, the current programs do not encourage the provision of resources to the affected people. The government is also not providing subsidies that help in reducing the cost of food in Canada. Instead, people meet high costs of securing healthy food (Martin, Ghosh, Page, Wolff, McMinimee, & Zhang, 2014). The short term subsidy program offered by the government cannot help to increase the availability of healthy foods in certain parts of Canada. As a result, few families are moving out of shelters after the end of the short-term rent subsidy. According to the research, 50% of the advantaged families were lucky to access quality because they could manage to pay for the cost of food (Lu, & Qiu, 2015). Bloomberg administration failed because it uses temporary policies with an aim of solving permanent food problems.

Strategies of reducing desert food in Canada

Donation of money and goods

Monetary and goods donations play a cardinal role in reducing the rate of desert food in Canada. Various organizations provide donations to affected families in Canada. Some of such organizations include Breaking Ground, Coalition for the Desert food, Picture the Desert food and Ali Forney Center. These organizations accept donations through websites. However, there are political climates which donate encourage donation of goods and money. For instance, some politicians discourage funding some of these organizations, which eventually lead to increase in people facing desert food in Canada.

Placement of permanent Food strategies

Despite the economic conditions, which fuel desert food in Canada, the urban region is implementing certain plans to combat the problem. The strategy to adopt permanent and stable food supply is one of the remarkable strategies that will ensure that there is reduction of families affected by desert food (Páez, Gertes Mercado, Farber, Morency, & Roorda, 2010). The provision of long-term subsidies and permanent houses plays a critical role in reducing the rate of desert food in Canada Urban region. There have been policies that deny the desert food families access to public food. The law requires that the government should place more than 1500 families in public food as well as 1500 families with section 8 (Lu, & Qiu, 2015). However, the number of the placements has not reached the required levels of FY 2003-2005. The urban region has also accrued a deficit as far as the proportion of Federal food resources allocation is concerned. For example, the urban region provided 3989 Federal food placements for the affected families in 2005. However, the trend has been changing since 2006 because few affected families have been receiving such benefits.

Passing relevant policies

The government should aim at having favorable laws and policies that encourages people to access quality foods. For instance, federal food programs play critical role in eradicating people on desert food in Canada. Food vouchers also assist low-income households to meet the cost of food in Canada. In addition, food vouchers help people to receive subsidies, which adjust to income of people within a specific period. As a result, both the public food and federal food play a critical role in reducing the rate of desert food in Canada. For this reason, the government should continue to pass laws and policies, which encourages the existence of public food to help desert food families (Koskela & Pain, 2000). Other laws, which reduce desert food in the state, include provisions that create more job opportunities for citizens. Most of the desert food families wallow in unemployment and they end up living in pathetic conditions. The government should aim at creating more employment opportunities in the formal sectors. Similarly, the policies should encourage investors to settle and offer more job opportunities in the state.

The Role of Government in the Regulation of Desert food

There are worries that raising the subsidy can result into property owners increasing rent fee, discourage those individuals getting public help from looking for expensive houses, and jeopardize the ease of access of shelter for tenants. Often, this phenomenon is attributed to the failure of the occupants to raise the mandatory rent. The state is now set to begin an overhauled rental help plan, which is a successor of dealing with a court case filed by the Legal Aid Society on behalf of the beneficiaries of public aid threatened to be kicked out (Martin, Ghosh, Page, Wolff, McMinimee, & Zhang, 2014). The plan, which has undergone amendment, could take effects as from 2018 . Notably, it stops short of increasing the elementary shelter fee, as the beneficiaries had wanted. Under the agreement, the subsidy of dislodgment-deterrence, that has been restricted to households with little children being sued by their property owners, will increase to approximately 1500 US dollars from the previous 800 dollars for a family of three people (Lu, & Qiu, 2015). For victims of domestic violence, whether facing proceeding of ‘kick out’ or not, can now receive funding.

The steep rise in the figure of families affected by desert food is a cause of huge worry, and can be addressed by the reducing the number of women or men running away from domestic violence, going into the streets, as well as facing inadequacy that limits them from owning a house in Canada Urban region. The other contributors to a high number of families who are desert food include policies of admission and eligibility. In the year 2015, the state altered some policies of admissions of shelter to eliminate unimportant as well as general barriers that are administrative or bureaucratic, which had formerly led to qualified families being denied the chance of being placed in shelters (Koskela & Pain, 2000). The previously existing policies had banned numerous families who were faced desert food from getting access to healthy foods as they were referred back to situations that were either unsafe or harmful to their health.

The aforementioned changes in policies resulted in a significant reduction in the percentage of families facing desert food. Currently, close to half (around 49%) of the applicant desert food families are vetted accordingly. This advancement in the rate of approval for quality foods applicants has unarguably contributed to the increasing number of genuinely poor families getting access to healthy foods.



High rates of joblessness and a weak economy are the core foundations of the growth in the rate of desert food in Canada. Particularly, Canada Urban region has significantly high levels of desert food compared to other locations due to low income, dwindling employment opportunities, and unsustainable job benefits. The US has been encountering the worst financial crisis ever since the Great Depression of 1981 and this has been the major cause of problems in the cities. The issue of desert food, for instance, is a public crisis that influences about 15 percent of Canada Urban region’s population. Conclusively, the issue of desert food is influenced by money issue, substance, and drug abuse, Truman symptoms, as well as being desert food at a young age. In ending this issue of desert food in the urban region, both the federal and state government have established various guidelines to help the affected population. For instance, both governments have provided shelters for the affected people that are to be entered in a precise legal basis. Hundreds of shelters exist across the Canada Urban region, and they all share one major objective, to house the desert food people in the streets of the urban region (Koskela & Pain, 2000). The authorities have as well merged with diverse non-governmental organizations aimed at helping shelter people by proving the desert food people in Canada Urban region with food. Generally, despite the efforts that the federal and state authorities have put towards ending this issue of desert food, nothing substantial has been achieved yet



Annotated Bibliographies

Páez, A., Gertes Mercado, R., Farber, S., Morency, C., & Roorda, M. (2010). Relative accessibility deprivation indicators for urban settings: Definitions and application to food deserts in montreal. Urban Studies, 47(7), 1415-1438.

The paper reviews on the fundamental aspects of accessibility deprivation in the areas of urban areas. Through focusing widely on the food deserts in Montreal city in Canada, the author notes that the existence of high variations in the access to quality food sources among the low-income earners and the other residents is significantly present. The author indicates that the presence of such discrepancy on food access is a reflection of social exclusion that presents fundamental challenges on healthy and quality equal living in urban areas. The source offers supportive evidence and a conceptual framework applicable in examining the research question outline above.

Lu, W., & Qiu, F. (2015). Do food deserts exist in Calgary, Canada? The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien, 59(3), 267-282.

The article explores on how food desert term has been continuously used in exploring food access in urban areas after inception few decades ago. The author acknowledges the presence of substantial research on the accessibility to supermarket and the food deserts especially among the high-need residents or the low-income earners. Through investigating on the accessibility of residents on the City of Calgary in Canada on supermarkets and the farmer’s markets, the author indicates that those affected widely are the seniors and children in these low-income earning communities. The author proposes the need to increase the farmer’s markets in these low income earning neighborhoods to boost access to quality and healthy food. The source is significantly LUO3 applicable in understanding the scope of food access in Canadian cities and impact on residents as outline in my research proposal.

Martin, K. S., Ghosh, D., Page, M., Wolff, M., McMinimee, K., & Zhang, M. (2014). What role do local grocery stores play in urban food environments? A case study of HartfordConnecticut. PloS one, 9(4), e94033.

The article explores on the dynamics of urban food environment with key emphasis on the accessibility to the healthy food especially absence of large supermarket. The author indicates among the residents of Hartford in Connecticut, food deserts are widely present. The findings indicate that the access to food and the prices is evident while impact on the health of the local residents. The article argues on the essence of accessing affordable and nutritious food as important in enhancing the individual health and also the wider wellbeing of the community. The paper is applicable in offering theoretical framework and also supportive sources on the topic selected.




Koskela, H., & Pain, R. (2000). Revisiting fear and place: women’s fear of attack and the built environment. Geoforum31(2), 269-280. doi:10.1016/s0016-7185(99)00033-0


Lu, W., & Qiu, F. (2015). Do food deserts exist in Calgary, Canada? The Canadian Geographer/Le             Géographe canadien, 59(3), 267-282.

Martin, K. S., Ghosh, D., Page, M., Wolff, M., McMinimee, K., & Zhang, M. (2014). What role do local grocery stores play in urban food environments? A case study of     HartfordConnecticut. PloS one, 9(4), e94033.

Páez, A., Gertes Mercado, R., Farber, S., Morency, C., & Roorda, M. (2010). Relative accessibility             deprivation indicators for urban settings: Definitions and application to food deserts in      montreal. Urban Studies, 47(7), 1415-1438.

Vanolo, A. (2012). The political geographies of Liberty City A critical analysis of a virtual space. doi:10.4135/9781446288948file:///C:/Users/philip/Downloads/2012_-__-_ThepoliticalgeographiesofLibertyCity[retrieved_2019-03-25].pdf