Research: Poverty in Canada

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Want to learn more about poverty in Canada?

Every October, CPJ releases our report on poverty in Canada. It highlights the unequal impact of poverty on new immigrants, families led by single mothers, un-attached adults, youth, and Aboriginal people. We also report on poverty rates of provinces, territories, and communities across Canada.

Highlights from CPJ's 2016 report, "Break the Barriers: Millions in Canada still struggle to get by":

4.9 million Canadians live in poverty

Poverty in Canada is persistently leaving people and communities on the margins. According to the Low Income Measure, 1 in 7 Canadians (or 14.4%) live in poverty. 

Although regular commitments have been made in Parliament since 1989 to end child poverty, including a 2015 motion, M-534, unanimously approved (save one abstention), child poverty in Canada persists. Today, 19% of children in Canada live in poverty. 

We know that poverty rates only tell us part of the reality of poverty in Canada. The reality also includes isolation and marginalization, as well as social and health impacts.

High poverty rates for single parents, Indigenous Canadians, and newcomers

In 2014, 34.5% of all single-parent families live in poverty. Meanwhile, a full 45.7% of children in single-parent families are poor.

The legacy of colonialism and exploitation has inflicted deep and intergenerational damage on Indigenous communities. The poverty rate of Indigenous people is 25.3%.

Newcomers to Canada, whether immigrants, refugees, or refugee claimants, face challenges, including precarious employment and lower wages that do not meet the cost of living; and 34.2% of newcomers live in poverty.

Poverty rates of provinces and territories

British Columbia, with a poverty rate of 16.0%, is the only province without a poverty plan in development or in place. Among the 10 provinces, Manitoba has the highest poverty rate, at 18.7%.

The 2014 Saskatchewan Government Speech from the Throne committed to a provincial poverty reduction strategy. In 2015, New Brunswick was recognized for the Economic Social Inclusion Plan – Overcoming Poverty Together.

Nunavut's poverty rate, the highest among the territories, is 30.5%.

Ranking of poverty rates in communities across Canada

Many communities across Canada have continued their hard work to develop poverty reduction/ poverty elimination strategies, task forces, and councils.

Among big cities, Toronto (17.9%), Vancouver (17.6%) and Windsor (17.0%) have the highest poverty rates.  Edmonton Mayor Iveson has commissioned a task force with a goal to end poverty in Edmonton in a generation.

For smaller communities, the highest poverty rates are in Campbellton, QC (39.3%), Leamington, ON (31.2%), and Portage la Prairie, MB (26.6%). 

"Break the Barriers"

Break the Barriers October 2016
Download the Report

People living in poverty in Canada face multiple barriers. As a country, we can do better to address these persistent challenges. We need a national anti-poverty plan that takes a comprehensive approach to the complex reality of poverty. "Break the Barriers" is CPJ's annual report on poverty in Canada. While overall poverty rates have not seen significant change in the last several years, particular groups are increasingly vulnerable.

Towards a Guaranteed Livable Income

Towards a Guaranteed Livable Income March 2017
Download the Briefing Note (PDF)

This Briefing Note lays out CPJ’s position on guaranteed annual income (GAI) / basic income (BI) programs to support CPJ’s participation in current debates, and to inform the development of a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. It complements CPJ’s work in support of the Dignity for All campaign and its proposals to eliminate poverty contained in A National Anti-Poverty Plan for Canada, published in 2015.

 

"On the Margins"

On the Margins: A Glimpse of Poverty in Canada October 2015
Download the Report

"On the Margins" reports that 4.9 million people in Canada (or roughly 1 in 7) live in poverty. It also provides a breakdown of poverty rates for each province and territory as well as the 20 big cities and small communities in Canada with the highest poverty rates.

"The Burden of Poverty"

The Burden of Poverty October 2014
Download the Report
“The Burden of Poverty: A snapshot of poverty across Canada” uses the most recent data from Statistics Canada to demonstrate the reality of poverty across the country and provides an accessible set of materials to support national and community-level anti-poverty work across the country.

"Making Ends Meet"

December 2013
This fourth and final report in our Poverty Trends Scorecard series shows that in the face of economic uncertainty and stagnant incomes, Canadians are working hard to keep up with rising living costs.

"Labour Market Trends"

July 2013
The new “Labour Market Trends” is an in-depth look at the Canadian labour market in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and who continues to be most impacted.

Poverty at Your Doorstep

Poverty at Your Doorstep March 2013
Five reports that paint vivid portraits of what poverty looks like in Montreal, Hamilton, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver have been released today. Written by CPJ’s Katherine Scott with information from our Poverty Trends Scorecard series and published by World Vision, they use info and stories to share what’s happening in each community and how local organizations are responding.

Poverty Trends Scorecard: Canada 2012

October 2012
The first report in CPJ's Poverty Trends Scorecard series examines the impact of poverty on people across Canada and shows that while some progress toward ending poverty in Canada has been made, but much more work remains for us all to do.

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