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%).
This paper provides an introduction to guaranteed or basic income, highlighting the policy debates and the history of the idea in Canada. Participants in the BIEN Canada Ottawa conference should read this paper to provide context for the detailed policy discussions and conversations of the conference.