Each year, like other health units across Ontario, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit conducts the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey, as mandated by the Ontario Public Health Standards 2008. In May of 2016, Health Unit staff conducted the survey in Simcoe County and in the District of Muskoka separately, visiting a sample of six grocery stores in each area. In each store, surveyors recorded the price of 67 specific food items that could be used to prepare meals and snacks consistent with healthy eating patterns recommended in Canada’s Food Guide.
NFB survey results are used as a benchmark measure of the cost of basic healthy eating across the region and to assess whether or not lower-income Simcoe Muskoka residents are likely to have enough income to pay for a healthy diet when the cost of housing is also considered.
According to 2016 survey results, the cost of the NFB for a reference family of four (a man and a woman each aged 31-50 years, a boy aged 14-18 years and a girl aged 4-8 years) would be $210.86 per week or $913.02 per month for Simcoe County and $205.88 per week or $891.46 per month for the District of Muskoka.
It is important to note that due to the unique characteristics of each area it is NOT appropriate to compare Simcoe and Muskoka results with one another.
For Simcoe Muskoka combined, the weekly cost of the NFB in May 2016 for the reference family of four was $208.35 (or $902.16 per month), which is $207.67 more per month than in May 2010. This represents a 29.9% increase in NFB cost over a six year period - an increase of $2492.04 more per year in 2016 than in 2010.
2016 Simcoe Muskoka data on the weekly cost of the NFB for males and females by age group is available upon request. These figures are regional averages only and are not appropriate for use as a food budgeting tool for individuals and families.
Health units use local NFB survey results and apartment rents to assess whether income from social assistance, pensions or minimum wage employment is sufficient to cover the cost of healthy food and rent. Unfortunately, year after year, NFB survey results indicate that Simcoe Muskoka residents living on low incomes are unlikely to have enough money to cover these basics. For people receiving social assistance or working for minimum wage, the cost of food and rent (based on local Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation Market Rental Report data) is likely to use up most of their income, and in some cases exceed it, even before considering other basic costs such as telephone, transportation, school supplies, household and personal care items.
For important information about the Nutritious Food Basket, review the NFB Data Source page.