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.
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%).
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.
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.
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.