02/06/2014 07:37 EST | Updated 04/08/2014 05:59 EDT

Food insecurity in Canada growing worse

Food insecurity — access to sufficient, healthy food — is either not getting any better or getting worse in all parts of Canada, according to a new report.

Valerie Tarasuk of the University of Toronto was the lead researcher for the Household Food Insecurity in Canada report, which was produced with support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and released Thursday morning.

The study — which looks at the number of Canadians who don't have access to sufficient food for a full, healthy diet — used data from Statistics Canada's 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, which included a household food security survey module.

Tarasuk's report suggests four million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, experienced some level of food insecurity. That represents about 13 per cent of households.

Tarasuck said the numbers suggest no government in Canada has taken on food insecurity as an issue.

"In most parts of Canada, if we look at 2012, the prevalence of food insecurity has either stayed stagnant or it has risen," she said.

"I would say this is a very serious problem, one that isn't being appropriately addressed right now."

The problem is particularly severe in the Maritimes.

Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and New Brunswick have the highest level of food insecurity among the provinces. Alberta has the lowest, at 11.5 per cent of households.

Tarasuk hopes her research will help spur the provincial and federal governments into action on the issue of food insecurity.