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Poverty in Canada

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Title: Poverty in Canada  
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Subject: Culture of Canada, Poverty in Ontario, Rural poverty, Canadian identity, Economic history of Canada
Collection: Poverty by Country, Poverty in Canada
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Poverty in Canada

Poverty in

  • Stats & Facts, Canadian Council on Social Development

External links

  • Coon, Garson George (1998). Examining beliefs about the causes of unemployment and poverty: An analysis of the causal models from the research literature (D.S.W. thesis). Wilfrid Laurier University. 
  • Jeffery, Heather Elizabeth (1999). The construction of homelessness as a social problem: Linking contributing factors, mediating factors and interventive strategies (M.S.W. thesis). Wilfrid Laurier University. 
  • Morrison, Susan M. (1992). Mothers and Other Making Change: Empowerment through self-help and social action (M.A. thesis). Wilfrid Laurier University. 
  • Roberts, Alison J. Rice (2001). A qualitative study of presently and formerly homeless female adolescents (Ontario) (M.A. thesis). Wilfrid Laurier University. 
  • Raphael, Dennis (2011), Poverty in Canada: Implications for Health and Quality of Life, 2nd edition, Canadian Scholars' Press,  
  • Snyder, Linda L. (2000). Women's employment initiatives as a means of addressing poverty: A comparative study of Canadian and Chilean examples (D.S.W. thesis). Wilfrid Laurier University. 

Further reading

  1. ^ "Growing unequal? Income distribution and poverty in countries". Paris, France: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 2008. 
  2. ^ a b DennisRaphael Foreword by Rob Rainer and Jack Layton (13 April 2007). Poverty in Canada: Implications for Health and Quality of Life (1st edition ed.). Canadian Scholars Press.  
  3. ^ a b DennisRaphael Foreword by Rob Rainer and  
  4. ^ a b c d "Child Poverty". Ottawa, ON: Conference Board of Canada. 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Growing unequal? Income distribution and poverty in OECD countries". Paris, France: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c Raphael, Dennis (June 2009. Poverty,Human Development, and Health in Canada: Research, Practice, and Advocacy Dilemmas). Canadian Journal of Nursing Research (CJNR) 41 (2): 7–18. 
  7. ^ a b Child poverty in rich nations: Report card no. 6 (Report). Innocenti Research Centre. 2005.
  8. ^ a b Human development report: Capacity development: Empowering people and institutions (Report). Geneva: United Nations Development Program. 2008.
  9. ^ a b "Canada falling behind on poverty, inequality, says report of Canada ranked 7th out of 17 developed countries". CBC. February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Poverty Measure in Canada Analysis".  
  11. ^ a b c "Poverty in Canada 2006 update" (PDF).  
  12. ^ a b Government transfer payments to persons, Statistics Canada, 8 November 2007, URL accessed 4 December 2007
  13. ^ (PDF) Innocenti Report Card (Report). UNICEF. 2001.
  14. ^ The rise in low-income rates among immigrants in Canada, Analytical Studies Branch research paper series, Statistics Canada, June 2003, URL accessed 20 September 2006
  15. ^ Chronic Low Income and Low-income Dynamics Among Recent Immigrants, Statistics Canada, January 2007, URL accessed 30 January 2007
  16. ^ Poverty - A short history, Tristat Resources, URL accessed 2 December 2007
  17. ^ Poverty and Pauperism, Catholic Encyclopedia, URL accessed 2 December 2007
  18. ^ The Canadian economy: problems and policies by G. C. Ruggeri
  19. ^
  20. ^ Daniel Drache; Duncan Cameron, Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada (1985). The Other MacDonald Report: The Consensus on Canada's Future That the MacDonald Commission Left Out. James Lorimer & Company. p. 64.  
  21. ^ Annual Report, United Church of Canada. Board of Evangelism and Social Service, 1970
  22. ^ David Gordon (2006). Christina Pantazis; David Gordon; Ruth Levitas, eds. The concept and measurement of poverty. Poverty and social exclusion in Britain:The Millennium Survey. Bristol, UK: Policy Press. pp. 29–70. 
  23. ^   page=12
  24. ^ a b On poverty and low income, Statistics Canada, 1997, URL accessed 2 December 2007
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ Low Income in Canada: 2000-2006 Using the Market Basket Measure - October 2008, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
  27. ^ a b c Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, 17 April 2008
  28. ^ a b "The World Employment Programme at ILO" (PDF). 
  29. ^ a b Richard Jolly (October 1976). "The World Employment Conference: The Enthronement of Basic Needs". Development Policy Review A9 (2): 31–44.  
  30. ^ Denton, John A. (1990). Society and the official world: a reintroduction to sociology. Dix Hills, N.Y: General Hall. p. 17.  
  31. ^ Poverty in Canada: 2006 Update
  32. ^
  33. ^ "What do we Mean by Poverty?". 1999-01-15. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  34. ^ "Market Basket Measure Report now available". 2005-03-07. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  35. ^ "Low Income Incidence / Financial Security / Indicators of Well-being in Canada". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  36. ^ a b "LICOs - Absolute or relative poverty measure??". 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  37. ^ a b Poverty Measure in Canada Analysis, CBC, URL accessed 4 January 2007
  38. ^ Population below poverty line, The World Factbook, CIA, updated on March 20, 2008.
  39. ^ What's behind a poverty line?, Canadian Council on Social Development, 9 June 2000, URL accessed 2 December 2007
  40. ^ Low Income Cut-offs for 2005 and Low Income Measures for 2004, Statistics Canada, 2006, URL accessed 2 December 2007
  41. ^ "Persons in low income after tax". 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  42. ^ Low income definitions, Statistics Canada, 2005, URL accessed 2 December 2007
  43. ^
  44. ^ a b Income Inequality and Redistribution in Canada: 1976 to 2004, Statistics Canada, 11 May 2007, URL accessed 2 December 2007
  45. ^ Macdonald, David; Wilson, Daniel (June 2013) (PDF). [2]Poverty or Prosperity Indigenous Children in Canada] (Report). Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  46. ^ Persons in low income before tax, by prevalence in percent, Statistics Canada, 1 May 2007, URL accessed 4 December 2007
  47. ^ Persons in low income after tax, by prevalence in percent , Statistics Canada, 1 May 2007, URL accessed 4 December 2007
  48. ^ Woolley, Frances. "Five Years of the Working Income Tax Benefit". Retrieved November 3, 2012. 
  49. ^ Making It A Little Easier For Low-Income Ontario Families, Government of Ontario press release, 22 February 2008, URL accessed 22 February 2008
  50. ^ "Minimum Wage In Canada by Province". Canada Online. 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 


See also

  1. ^ The Conference Board of Canada "uses the OECD’s relative measure of child poverty, which calculates the proportion of children living in households where disposable income is less than 50 per cent of the median in each country." The Conference Board 2013 cautioned that Canada’s high poverty rate, ranks among the worst of the 17 countries they compared. "Canada’s child poverty rate was 15.1 per cent, up from 12.8 per cent in the mid-1990s. Only the United States ranked lower.
  2. ^ The book was described as "the most authoritative study of poverty and social exclusion in Britain at the start of the 21st century. It reports on the most comprehensive survey of poverty and social exclusion, ever to be undertaken in Britain: The Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey. This enormously rich data set records levels of poverty not just in terms of income and wealth but by including information about the goods and services which the British public say are necessary to avoid poverty."
  3. ^ In 1992 Sarlo argued that the difference between absolute and relative poverty thresholds is artificial since "what is considered to be a necessity depends to some extent on the conditions in the larger society in which one is a member (Sarlo 1992: 19)." In 1992 and again in 2001 Sarlo clarified that the basic needs poverty line is not absolute but relative, since the poverty threshold must be "connected to the society in which people live" but that an "aspect of poverty remains timeless" (Sarlo 2001:11). This is the "irreducible core of necessities invariant through time:"..."water, food, shelter and clothing (Sarlo 1992: 19)" which remains the same through time but the "quantity and quality" are relative to one's society.
  4. ^ The Conference Board of Canada "uses the OECD’s relative measure of child poverty, which calculates the proportion of children living in households where disposable income is less than 50 per cent of the median in each country." The Conference Board 2013 cautioned that Canada’s high poverty rate, ranks among the worst of the 17 countries they compared. "Canada’s child poverty rate was 15.1 per cent, up from 12.8 per cent in the mid-1990s. Only the United States ranked lower.


Although listed here under assistance, some theories suggest that minimum wage laws are a net detriment to low-income people as a whole, because they reduce the attractiveness of hiring low-skilled staff (see Minimum wage#Debate over consequences).

Under the Constitution of Canada, the responsibility for enacting and enforcing labour laws including minimum wages in Canada rests with the ten provinces, the three territories also having been granted this power by virtue of federal legislation. This means that each province and territory has its own minimum wage. The lowest general minimum wage currently in force as of April 1, 2012 is that of Yukon ($9.27/hour), the highest is that of Nunavut ($11/hour).[50] Some provinces allow lower wages to be paid to liquor servers and other tip earners, and/or to inexperienced employees.

Minimum wage laws

Low-income Canadians are eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (a federal benefit), and provincial child tax credits or benefits and Québec family allowances. For example, Ontario pays a benefit scheduled to grow to $180 per month by 2011 for a family earnings less than $20,000 with two children.[49] These credits are not taxed (see Income taxes in Canada#Income not taxed).

Child credits

The WITB was introduced in 2007 to encourage low income people to enter the labour force, and to provide them with increased financial support. The WITB has been expanded considerably since its introduction. As of 2012, it is worth up to $970 for a single individual, $1762 for couples and single parent families.[48] A person or couple must have at least $3,000 in employment income, and not be a student, to be eligible for WITB. Benefits increase, and then decrease, with income, and are completely clawed back at an income of $11,011 for singles, $15,205 for couples or single parents (in 2012).These credits are not taxed (see Income taxes in Canada#Income not taxed).

Working income tax benefit

In addition to government transfers, there are number of other publicly funded services and social programs that benefit those with low-incomes like Medicare, Public education for grade school; subsidized post-secondary education, Subsidized housing, and Employment equity programs, which often target various groups of people who are deemed to be susceptible to having low-incomes.

The Conference Board of Canada 2013 study noted "that due to the tax system and transfers to the poor, income inequality is 27 per cent lower than it otherwise would be."[4] Canada has a wide range of government transfers to persons, which totaled $176.6 billion in 2009.[12] Some of the transfers designed to assist low-income people in Canada include Welfare and Old age security. There is also an extensive mandatory Employment Insurance program designed to assist workers who have become unemployed to lessen the chance of them falling into poverty.

Social programs

The Canadian income tax system is highly progressive. This can be seen by comparing the 2005 pre-tax low-income cut-off rate of 15.3%[46] with the after-tax rate of only 10.8%.[47] It is also evident in the Gini coefficient, which was estimated to be 0.428 on a pre-tax basis but only 0.315 on an after-tax basis.[44] The Conference Board of Canada 2013 study noted the Canadian system provides relief to the poor which contributes to lowering poverty rates in Canada. Their 2013 report stated that without Canada's tax system and transfers, the poverty rate would have been 23 per cent not the current 12 per cent.[4]

Reduced tax burden

Government transfers and intervention

Assistance for poor people in Canada

"Based on data from the 2006 census, this study found that the average child poverty rate for all children in Canada is 17%, while the average child poverty rate for all Indigenous children is more than twice that figure, at 40%." "50% — of status First Nations children live below the poverty line. This number grows to 62% in Manitoba and 64% in Saskatchewan."[45]

Indigenous Children in Canada

As of 2014, there is no federal plan to reduce poverty.

Because of these moves, each province is exploring the development of a measurement tool to track any progress made on reducing poverty, such as the use of a Deprivation Index.

Several Canadian provinces are introducing poverty reduction strategies, following the examples set by the European Union, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba are all developing provincial strategies. Quebec and Manitoba have enshrined their efforts in legislation. Newfoundland & Labrador has established a provincial ministry. Ontario has set a cabinet roundtable to address child poverty, as per the Liberals's campaign promise.

Poverty Reduction

Serious consideration of the Gini coefficient for public policy implications is rare in Canada. Discussion of income inequality in the Canadian media generally implies that income inequality should be continually reduced as an objective, whereas international economists evaluating Gini coefficients generally focus on the idea of targeting an optimal range for the Gini coefficient. Some researchers have suggested the optimal Gini coefficient range is about .25-.40 (Wolfgang Kitterer, 2006, More Growth through Redistribution?). As of 2004, the Gini coefficient for Canada was estimated to be 0.315 on an after-tax basis.[44]

The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion most prominently used as a measure of inequality of income distribution or inequality of wealth distribution. It is defined as a ratio with values between 0 and 1: the numerator is the area between the Lorenz curve of the distribution and the uniform distribution line; the denominator is the area under the uniform distribution line. Thus, a low Gini coefficient indicates more equal income or wealth distribution, while a high Gini coefficient indicates more unequal distribution. 0 corresponds to perfect equality (everyone having exactly the same income) and 1 corresponds to perfect inequality (where one person has all the income, while everyone else has zero income). The Gini coefficient requires that no one have a negative net income or wealth.

Gini coefficient, income distribution by country.

Gini coefficient

It is considered an especially useful measure for international comparisons, and is popular with anti-poverty groups and some foreign governments (e.g., Ireland).[36] It results in a higher measure of poverty compared to other measures. In 2006, it was estimated to be 19.6% for children on an after-tax basis.[43]

The Low Income Measure is a purer measure of relative income. It is defined as 50% of median income, adjusted for family size. In effect, this measure indicates the percentage or number of people in the bottom income quartile.

Low Income Measure

Statistics Canada prefers using the after-tax LICO over the pre-tax LICO "to draw conclusions about [families] overall economic well-being";[42] however, the pre-tax measures are needed depending on the study being conducted because some sources of data, such as the census, contain only pre-tax income information. It can also be useful to know the pre-tax income profile of groups before the effects of progressive tax rates.

There are 7 family sizes and 5 community sizes, resulting in 35 total LICO groups, each one evaluated on a pre and after-tax basis (70 calculations in total). The LICO is currently set at 63% of the average family income within each group. This stems from the 1992 Family Expenditures Survey, which showed the average family spent 43% of its after-tax income on food, shelter and clothing, plus Statistics Canada added an additional 20% margin.

The measure has been reported by Statistics Canada since the 1960s.[39] They were reported only in their "pre-tax" form until 2000, at which point Statistics Canada started to publish both pre and after-tax LICO rates. After-tax LICO rates have been retroactively calculated back to 1986. The measure is intended to represent an income threshold below which a family will likely devote a larger share of its income on the necessities of food shelter and clothing than the average family.[40] As of 2008, 9.4% of Canadians are in a family whose income is below the after-tax low-income cut-off.[41]

Low-income cut-off (LICO) rates are often quoted by the media as a measure of poverty[37] even though Statistics Canada has stated it is not a poverty measure.[24] It is also used by statistics collators like the Central Intelligence Agency in lieu of an official measure, although the CIA also notes that it "results in higher figures than found in many comparable economies."[38]

Source: Statistics Canada

Low-income cut-off (LICO)

In lieu of an official poverty measure, the LICO is regarded as a poverty measure by various groups. It has been referred to as "the most accepted measure" of poverty.[37] Internationally, the Low Income Measure and the Gini coefficient are a prominent income distribution metrics.

[9][8][7][6][5] find that relative poverty is the "most useful measure for ascertaining poverty rates in wealthy developed nations such as Canada."[4][notes 4] According to a 2008 report by the [notes 3] Relative poverty measures are considered by some to be the most useful for advanced industrial nations like Canada.[36] Relative poverty measures, the most prominent being income distribution measures, also known as income inequality metrics, reveal information about disparities of income within a population. So, for instance, if a society becomes richer, even those in the bottom income bands may see their incomes rise as well. A measure which accounts for this rise, increasing with the average income of the society, is known as a "relative measure of poverty."

Relative poverty measures

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador are now developing a market basket measure which is more granular, costing out a set of basic goods in over 400 communities in the province.[27]

The Government of Canada's Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada constructed their own absolute measure through the creation the Market Basket Measure (MBM) in 2003. The MBM costs a broader range of essential goods and services than the Fraser Institute measure.[32][33] MBM thresholds take into account community size, location and household and composition, estimating the disposable income required to meet basic needs.[34][35] Forty eight Canadian communities have been included in the measure.[27]

Market basket measure

Professor Chris Sarlo, an economist at Nipissing University in North Bay, Canada and a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, uses Statistics Canada's socio-economic databases, particularly the Survey of Household Spending to determine the cost of a list of household necessities. This is calculated for various communities across Canada and adjusted for family size. Sarlo's basic needs measure is based on various data sources including Statistics Canada's databases (for example Survey of Household Spending) and CMHC housing information to determine the cost of a list of household necessities (food, shelter, clothing, health care, personal care, essential furnishings, transportation and communication, laundry, home insurance, and miscellaneous) for various communities across Canada and then, based on family size, determines how many households have insufficient income to afford those necessities. Before 2004, the determination of the poverty rate was based on pre-tax income inclusive of government social program income such as welfare, employment insurance, and old-age pensions. Taxes were not particularly relevant as households at or beneath the poverty rate would pay little or no income tax. More recently, the after-tax incomes have been used as the indicator of household well-being. Like most measures, it is based on reported income and is therefore subject to error related to unreported employment and the underground economy. With this information, he determines the proportion of Canadian households that have insufficient income to afford those necessities. Based on his basic needs poverty threshold, the poverty rate has declined from about 12% of Canadian households to about 5% since the 1970s.[31] Based on Sarlo's basic needs, the poverty rate in Canada has fallen dramatically over the past 51 years. In 2004 it was 4.9%, representing 1.6 million Canadians.[11]

A traditional list of immediate "basic needs" is food (including water), shelter and clothing.[30] Many modern lists emphasize the minimum level of consumption of 'basic needs' of not just food, water, and shelter, but also sanitation, education, and healthcare. Different agencies use different lists.

The [28][29]

Source: Fraser Institute

Basic needs poverty measure

Absolute poverty measures

Some researchers and governments instead use multiple measures to measure the depth and extent of poverty in Canada.[26][27]

Canada has no official poverty measure because Statistics Canada has stated that unless politicians express a social consensus on the definition of poverty, there will be no measure because they feel that it is not Statistics Canada's role to determine what constitutes a necessity.[24] There is a debate on whether an absolute or relative measure is more useful. An absolute measure of poverty can provide insight on deprivation, or the inability to provide for basic needs, while a relative measure of poverty encompasses the issues of social exclusion and inequality.[25]

Measures of poverty in Canada

The most widely discussed conceptual issue related to poverty is the definition of poverty, specifically the difference between absolute and relative poverty.[22][notes 2][6] [23]

Definition of Poverty

In recent years, newly arrived immigrants have higher than average low-income rates, although each immigrant arrival cohort year experiences a declining low-income rate over time.

At the end of the Sixties, Statistics Canada estimated that the number of Canadians living in poverty (using measurements drawn up by Jenny Podoluk) had fallen from about 25% of the population in 1961 to about 18% in 1969.[18] A Senate inquiry in 1969, however, estimated that as many as 1 in 4 Canadians were living in poverty that year.[19] From 1969 to 1982, the proportion of families with incomes below the poverty line fell from 20.8% to 13.9%.[20] According to one definition, nearly two-fifths of Canadians lived in poverty in 1951, falling slightly to more than one-fifth in 1961 and to slightly less than one-fifth by 1968.[21]

After the Great Depression, Bennett and Mackenzie King spurred the first stages of Canada's welfare state, and the size and role of the government began to grow immensely over the next decades. Many social programs developed during this time designed to increase the Canadian citizen's quality of life.

[17] reported that there were eighty-seven hospitals in Canada under the control and direction of various Catholic religious communities.Catholic Encyclopedia In the early 20th century, the [16] Reflecting the practice in the

Canada's history is marked by identified periods of growth and recession, and an evolving response of government intervention to assist low-income Canadians.

History of poverty in Canada


  • History of poverty in Canada 1
  • Definition of Poverty 2
  • Measures of poverty in Canada 3
    • Absolute poverty measures 3.1
      • Basic needs poverty measure 3.1.1
      • Market basket measure 3.1.2
    • Relative poverty measures 3.2
      • Low-income cut-off (LICO) 3.2.1
      • Low Income Measure 3.2.2
      • Gini coefficient 3.2.3
  • Poverty Reduction 4
  • Indigenous Children in Canada 5
  • Assistance for poor people in Canada 6
    • Government transfers and intervention 6.1
      • Reduced tax burden 6.1.1
      • Social programs 6.1.2
      • Working income tax benefit 6.1.3
      • Child credits 6.1.4
      • Minimum wage laws 6.1.5
  • Notes 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11

In recent times, after a spike in poverty and low-income rates around the 1996 recession, relative poverty has continued to decline. Certain groups experience higher low-income rates. These include children,[13] families with single-parent mothers, aboriginals, the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, recent immigrants,[14][15] and students.

Some elements that work towards reducing poverty in Canada include Canada's strong economic growth, government transfers to persons of $164 billion per annum as of 2008,[12] universal medical and public education systems, and minimum wage laws in each of the provinces and territories of Canada.

Currently, an income inequality measure known as low income cut-off published by Statistics Canada is frequently used as a poverty rate and is 10.8% as of 2005.[10] The Central Intelligence Agency uses the LICO as the relative measure results in a higher poverty figure than an absolute one. The Fraser Institute, a conservative think-tank, alleges that the federal Canadian government exaggerates poverty rates, and publishes their own measure, known as the basic needs poverty measure. According to this measure, poverty has declined significantly over the past 60 years and is 4.9% as of 2004.[11][11] Statistics Canada has refused to endorse any metric as a measure of poverty, including the low-income cut off it publishes, without a mandate to do so from the federal government.

[9] In its report released the Conference Board [8][7][6][5] find that relative poverty is the "most useful measure for ascertaining poverty rates in wealthy developed nations such as Canada."[4][notes 1]

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