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CPJ released Poverty Trends 2018, our annual report on poverty in Canada, a day ahead of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It reports that a staggering 5.8 million people in Canada (or 16.8%) live in poverty. The report uses several low-income indicators, including the Low-Income Measure (LIM), the Census Family Low Income Measure (CFLIM) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). Each measure of low income provides different information on poverty using different methodologies to calculate rates of poverty.
Poverty Trends 2018 identifies several key demographics of people in Canada that have particularly high poverty rates:
- Children (19.6% CFLIM-AT)
- Children in lone-parent families (47.4% CFLIM-AT)
- Single parent families (36.0% CFLIM-AT): The vast majority of single-parent families are female-led (80%), and of these households, Indigenous women, racialized women, and women with disabilities have higher poverty rates.
- Single adults and single seniors (37.7% and 25.7% CFLIM-AT): Single working-age adults and single seniors continue to experience high rates of poverty.
- Single persons with disabilities (23% LIM-AT): People with disabilities are highly vulnerable to poverty, particularly those facing multiple discriminations.
- Indigenous peoples (23.6% LIM-AT): High poverty rates for Indigenous people are part of the continued legacy of colonization.
- Racialized people (20.8% LIM-AT): Poverty among racialized communities is persistent and reflects a range of social and economic barriers.
Poverty Trends 2018 also includes a breakdown of poverty rates by province and territory. Nunavut continues to have the highest poverty rate in Canada (29.0%), followed by Manitoba (20.7%) and British Columbia (18.7%).
Among major Canadian cities, Vancouver has the highest rate of poverty at 20.4%, followed by Toronto (20.0%) and Windsor and Abbotsford-Mission (18.2%).
Data on poverty rates in Canada are an essential part of understanding the complex reality of poverty. However, in addition to economic measures, poverty also involves social, political, and cultural marginalization, with impacts on self-worth, spiritual vitality, and the well-being of communities. Individuals that face multiple barriers have an increased vulnerability to poverty.
The complex reality of poverty and its far-reaching effects for individuals and society in Canada requires a comprehensive, rights-based national anti-poverty plan. Ultimately, this plan must be grounded in the dignity of all people and the well-being of individuals and communities.