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 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.

Quality Care, Quality Choices: Backgrounder & position paper

May 2010
Rooted in issues of early childhood development, gender equality, and poverty, the lack of a national childcare plan is having detrimental effects on many children and their families in Canada. It is clear that what is needed is an affordable, accessible, quality national childcare program based on the best interest of the child. It is crucial that this program be situated within the context of a comprehensive set of family-oriented policies.

Bearing the Brunt

May 2010
Bearing the Brunt: How the 2008-2009 Recession Created Poverty for Canadian Families details the rise in poverty and economic insecurity caused by the recession.

Justice and Jubilee: CPJ Backgrounder on Poverty

May 2009
Our foundational backgrounder on poverty is intended to be a resource for those who are wondering about the faith basis of CPJ’s work on poverty, highlighting our understanding of the Biblical call to justice and a Christian vision of economics. It also explains our public justice perspective on poverty, and the moral obligation of governments to take leadership on poverty, as well as the responsibility of every person and every social institution to eradicate poverty. 
It can also be a useful tool for small groups to explore the issue of poverty and to understand the values that perpetuate poverty, as well as the values and principles that call us to action on poverty.

CPJ’s backgrounder & position paper on homelessness

June 2008
A growing number of Canadians today face concerns of housing affordability and feel the impact of inadequate housing and homelessness. CPJ believes governments are responsible for protecting the rights of their citizens and for promoting the well-being of communities by investing in affordable housing and providing necessary funding and infrastructures. There is a great need for strong political leadership to create a comprehensive housing strategy that ensures all Canadians, regardless of income, have access to affordable housing.

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