Low-income families are finding it increasingly difficult to budget for healthy food, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. Many are forced to make less healthy decisions and children, unfortunately, are the biggest losers in this scenario. In fact, 18,000 children are living with food insecurity each month in the Greater Montreal region.

Parents are going through a difficult period because children’s products are expensive and rare on food banks’ shelves. And yet, donations of food items for babies and infants only represent about 1% of total donations received.

Most Canadians cannot bear the thought that so many in this country are hungry. That’s why we have food banks, an effort started by ordinary Canadians in their communities, distributing food to those who didn’t have enough to eat. But after more than thirty years of trying, food banks have been unable to solve the problem of hunger…

It’s not surprising that food banks haven’t been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty. Food insecurity is one of the many symptoms of poverty and will disappear only when we effectively tackle its source.

A ‘food desert’ is an urban area where people face serious physical and economic obstacles to accessing healthy foods, especially without access to a personal vehicle.

Here in Saskatoon, we had a large food desert that was restored to sustainability by a co-operative grocery store. Now that it has closed after three and a half years of operation, healthy food access is once again a problem in Saskatoon’s inner city.

Everyone’s talking about the Trudeau government’s first federal budget, in part because it’s deficit financed and in part because of some of the historic investments it’s making.

Here are the four points that jump out:

Significant contributions in poverty reduction

Affordable housing and transit on track

Does Ontario have a BFF in Ottawa?

Responsible deficit financing

Governments in Canada are suddenly keen on basic income.

The Ontario Liberals are planning a pilot project. A Liberal-dominated federal committee thinks the idea is worth studying as well. The Manitoba Green Party says if their elected in the province’s upcoming election, they’ll implement a basic income. The Saskatchewan NDP also support a pilot project for a basic income in that province.

With all its supporters, you may think basic income is an idea from the political left. However, a guaranteed basic income has support from some you might consider rather right-wing, libertarians.

Premier Kathleen Wynne is hopeful a landmark pilot project that would give some of the province’s poorest residents a guaranteed minimum income will be in place next year.

In her most detailed comments yet on a measure introduced in Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s Feb. 25 budget, Wynne said the poverty-reduction proposal comes from “a real concern around the way social assistance works in Ontario.”

The Canadian Press asked people who are homeless or work with those on the street in Thunder Bay — one of the worst cities in Canada for homelessness — what advice they would give the federal government as it crafts its first budget and a poverty reduction strategy.

Here’s what they had to say, in their own words:

“Housing, housing, housing. That’s what we need. That’s what we need in our community, that’s what we need across Canada. We need a national housing strategy.” — Brad King, operations manager, Shelter House, Thunder Bay