How free tax clinics help put money back in the pockets of people living paycheque to paycheque

As the cost of living in Canada continues to rise, food banks across the country are experiencing overwhelming demand. People in every community are at the breaking point, from coast to coast to coast, and many people who never thought they would need a food bank are walking through the doors for the first time.

Food Banks Canada’s annual HungerCount report found that food bank use rose to the highest levels in Canadian history in 2023, with almost 2 million visits in March alone. Rising food and housing costs have caused more people to turn to food banks because their money is not stretching far enough to cover their expenses.

In communities large and small, the network of 4,750 food banks and community agencies is working tirelessly toward the vision of a Canada where no one goes hungry. In collaboration with the food bank network, Food Banks Canada continues to make meaningful progress on our two-part mission of relieving hunger today and preventing hunger tomorrow.


Free tax clinics are a valuable way to help people living on low incomes file their tax returns and access vital benefits, including disability supports and GST/HST credits.

Last year through our National Tax Clinic program, which is now in its fifth year thanks to funding and volunteer support from our corporate sponsor, KPMG in Canada, free tax clinics were offered by food banks in five primary locations, as well as eight smaller locations that received grants that were new to the program.

In total, $37M was returned to clients through the completion of over 10,000 tax returns!

A client of the free tax clinic hosted by the UHC – Hub of Opportunities in Windsor, Ont., who lives paycheque to paycheque said they found the service to be deeply impactful.

“I was highly stressed about getting my taxes done, as I live paycheque to paycheque and there wasn’t much money for additional expenses. I also felt a measurable amount of shame, there’s something crippling about saying you work full-time and still can’t afford basic expenses. I met with a UHC volunteer to assess my needs for the clinic, and take down my information with a great measure of compassion and empathy. I felt comfortable as she alleviated my shame and normalized the situation for me. Her friendly and compassionate approach made all the difference in the world to me.”

— UHC – Hub of Opportunities client story

Wendy Pang, a KPMG senior accountant who is a returning volunteer at the free tax clinic hosted by the UHC said that as food bank clients interact with volunteers on filing taxes, they are provided the opportunity to better understand how to navigate systems they may be unfamiliar with and, build on skills and knowledge to do it on their own in the future.

“This is my fourth year volunteering as a tax preparer. The clients I meet are usually newcomers, single parents, seniors, new graduates, and unemployed individuals. The free tax services are not only to help them file personal tax on time, but also to help them apply to government benefits and subsidies, such as the Ontario Trillium Benefit, Canada child benefit, GST/HST credit, Canada Carbon Rebate, etc.  It’s a great way to provide help, support and tax advice to modest-income individuals and families by using my professional knowledge.”

— Wendy Pang, KPMG Senior Accountant, Windsor, Ont.

According to Melissa Munger, a KPMG Office Manager who is also a returning volunteer at the free tax clinic hosted by the UHC, they have plans to expand the clinic this year to include in-person appointments.

“Our KPMG office location in Windsor has been a supporter of the UHC – Hub of Opportunities for many years, and our staff at KPMG are always looking for ways to support our local community. I am really happy that in 2024 we are adding an in-person clinic to the program in Windsor, which will increase the amount of returns we are able to assist with. It truly is a team effort!”

— Melissa Munger, KPMG Office Manager, Windsor, Ont.

In 2024, with the help of the UHC, Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre, Sources Community Resource Centres, Burnaby Neighbourhood House, Centre de bénévolat et moisson Laval, and Food Banks Mississauga, these clinics will put more money back into the pockets people across the country who are struggling to make ends meet.

The widening gap between food bank usage and employment rates

Did you know food bank use among people who are employed is increasing to record levels?

According to Food Banks Canada’s HungerCount 2023 report, after over a decade of hovering between 11 per cent and just over 12 per cent, the percentage of food bank clients whose main source of income is employment has increased significantly since 2021.

People who are employed now represent nearly 17 per cent of food bank clients — the highest proportion ever. This increase coincides with the significant increase in racialized groups accessing food banks in the last year — from 32.5 per cent in 2022 to 39.3 per cent in 2023.