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 effects of poverty on racialized people, single-parent families, single seniors and adults, children, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples. We also report on poverty rates of provinces, territories, and communities across Canada.

Highlights from CPJ's 2018 report, "Poverty Trends 2018":

5.8 million people in Canada live in poverty

Poverty in Canada is persistently leaving people and communities on the margins. According to the Census Family Low Income Measure (CFLIM-AT), 1 in 6 people in Canada (or 16.8%) 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. 

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 racialized people

According to the CFLIM-AT, 36.0% of all single-parent families live in poverty. Meanwhile, 47.4% of children in lone-parent families live in poverty. 

The legacy of colonialism and exploitation has inflicted deep and intergenerational damage on Indigenous communities. The poverty rate of Indigenous people is 23.6% (LIM-AT).

Racialized people in Canada, whether recent immigrants (including refugee claimants, convention refugees and landed immigrants) face challenges, including a lack of access to affordable housing and childcare, difficulty finding adequate employment or training, and a lack of recognition of credentials. According to the LIM-At, 20.8% of racialized people experience poverty.

Poverty rates of provinces and territories

British Columbia, with a poverty rate of 18.7%, is the only province without a poverty plan in place. Among the 10 provinces, Manitoba has the highest poverty rate, at 20.7%.

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 29.0%.

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 (20.0%), Vancouver (20.4%) and Windsor (18.2%) have the highest poverty rates.

Poverty Trends 2018

October 2018
Download the Report (PDF)

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 2017

Poverty Trends 2017 October 2017
Download the Report (PDF)

CPJ released Poverty Trends 2017, our annual report on poverty in Canada, a week ahead of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It reports that a staggering 4.8 million people in Canada (or 13.9%) live in poverty. The report uses the Low-Income Measure (LIM), which defines the poverty rate as 50 per cent of the median Canadian household income.

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.


"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.

"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.


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