The economic downtown is driving more people to Ontario food banks, according to a new report by the Daily Bread Food Bank.

There are now more than one million people using food banks across the Greater Toronto Area. Most of these people have either recently lost their job or have had their hours cut dramatically.

Gail Nyberg, executive director at the Daily Bread Food Bank said the stringent rules around Employment Insurance are helping to aggravate the situation.

She said people are finding that they need to go into debt in order to feed themselves.

"There are a couple ways out of this," she told CTV Toronto on Thursday. "First of all, we need the economy to improve.

"The government can look at some temporary fixes for EI and certainly, in Toronto, we know that people need to work a lot longer to be able to qualify for EI than they do in other parts of the country," she said. "Those things have to be fixed."

Nyberg also criticized Ontario's welfare system for refusing assistance to people who have retirement savings and other assets.

The report concludes that there was an eight per cent increase in the amount of people who used food banks between April 2008 and April 2009.

Only 17 per cent of the people who reported using the food bank for six months or less qualified for EI.

Nyberg said she has noticed a surge in people at the food bank in the past six months.

In the first three months of 2009, there was a 17 per cent increase in Food Bank usage compared to the same time last year.

Forty-nine food banks were surveyed and more than 1,000 people were interviewed for the report.