Tackling poverty together: What it is like to live in poverty in Canada and how the federal government can help

Submitted by Alison Homer on October 10, 2017 - 10:32am

Through the Tackling Poverty Together project, launched by the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in September 2016, the Government of Canada heard directly from Canadians about what it is like to live in poverty in Canada. They engaged with the public about the challenges faced by people living in poverty, how federal government programs are helping, and where more support was needed.

The project engaged 4,944 members of the public, 867 people with lived experience, 130 organizations involved in poverty reduction, 43 community partners, and 10 local and national experts across case-study communities across Canada. Living SJ, one of Vibrant Communities Canada’s Cities Reducing Poverty’s long-standing members, represented one of these six communities. 

Read the full report here.

Key messages heard from Canadians included that:

  • Poverty exists in Canada and much of it is hidden.
  • Many Canadians cannot pay for basic necessities and face significant barriers to work, which take an emotional and psychological toll.
  • Poverty affects some groups more than others.
  • Canadians living in poverty are survivors, but they need more support to make a bigger change in their lives.
  • The Canada Child Benefit and Guaranteed Income Supplement are making a big difference.
  • The federal government offers other important programs that could be helping, but very few people are aware of them.
  • Many people cannot access the support they need because of how some programs are designed and delivered.
  • Canadians were unanimous that there is a need for more support in different areas, and by different levels of government, to help people overcome poverty.

Areas where people highlighted the strong and ongoing need for the federal government to work with provincial/territorial and municipal governments to support Canadians to get out of poverty included:

  • Employment support Creating new job opportunities, helping people connect to jobs, and providing incentives to employers to encourage them to hire vulnerable groups.
  • Sufficient government income support Ensuring the level of funding provided under federal government poverty reduction programs meets the needs; working with provincial/ territorial governments to develop a guaranteed minimum income program.
  • Living wage Working with provincial/territorial governments to increase the minimum wage to a wage that can cover basic costs of living.
  • Housing support Supporting housing and neighbourhood revitalization, social housing, and other housing-related costs.
  • Support for community programs – Providing financial support for community programs that help vulnerable groups to learn about programs, build life skills, and feel connected to the community.
  • Support for Indigenous people Approaching solutions with cultural and historical awareness that enable Indigenous people and communities to empower themselves.
  • Support for specific costs – Providing financial support for medical coverage, mental health and addictions treatment, education, healthy food, transportation, child care, and home care costs.

The results from this project and other engagement activities will inform the development of a comprehensive Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, scheduled for release in 2018.

Additonal resources: