Recent Publications

Welfare in Canada, 2014

By Anne Tweddle, Ken Battle, and Sherri Torjman
This report focuses on the incomes of four different households living on social assistance, commonly known as “welfare.” It is a continuation of the welfare incomes series published regularly by the former National Council of Welfare. Total welfare incomes consist of the sum of two main components: social assistance provincial/territorial and federal child benefits as well as relevant provincial/territorial and federal tax credits. Social assistance is the income program of last resort.  It is intended for persons who have exhausted all other means of financial support. Every province and territory has its own social assistance program, so no two are exactly the same. Each program has different administrative rules, eligibility criteria, benefit levels and provisions regarding special assistance. However, the basic structure of social assistance is much the same across the country, even though the specifics may vary. The most common way of assessing the adequacy of any income program is to compare it to a recognized standard and then determine how far it diverts from that indicator. There is no single or commonly accepted baseline, but rather several measures that typically are used for comparative purposes. They fall into one of two groups: poverty measures and income measures. Poverty measures are considered to be the baseline level below which households are deemed to live in poverty. Two poverty measures are employed in this report: low income cut-offs (LICOs) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). In 2014, welfare incomes for single employable households ranged from 38.2 percent of the after-tax poverty line in Manitoba to a ‘high’ of 64.7 percent in Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of the other jurisdictions cluster around the lower rate. Welfare incomes for single persons with disabilities, while low, were slightly higher, ranging from 49.6 percent of the poverty line in Alberta to 69.9 percent in Ontario. Alberta provides a separate program (AISH, or Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) for persons with disabilities, which pays higher rates than the standard welfare program. In 2014, incomes of single persons on AISH came to 96.5 percent of the after-tax LICO, far higher than the 49.6 percent for persons with disabilities on standard welfare. The Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program also pays higher rates than the standard welfare program. For 2014, the income of single persons on SAID was 86.3 percent of the after-tax LICO, compared to 66.8 percent for those receiving Saskatchewan Assistance Plan benefits. For single-parent households with one child age 2, welfare incomes represented 63.1 percent of the poverty line in Manitoba and a surprising 102.4 percent of the after-tax LICO in Newfoundland and Labrador. For two-parent families with two children ages 10 and 15, welfare incomes as a percentage of the poverty line ranged from 57.5 percent in British Columbia to 85.6 percent in Prince Edward Island. The report also compares total welfare incomes in 2014 with the Market Basket Measure. As in the case of after-tax poverty lines, welfare incomes fall well below the designated baseline for all household types and in all jurisdictions, with the exception of persons on Alberta’s AISH program. Income measures comprise the second group of comparators. This set of measures assesses the adequacy of welfare relative to the level of income of other households in the population. There are several different indicators that can be used for comparative purposes. Two have been selected for this analysis: after-tax average incomes and median incomes. For 2014, these data are drawn from the new Canadian Income Survey (CIS). Because the CIS uses a different methodology than the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID), income data for 2014 cannot be compared to data for earlier years. After-tax average incomes represent the amounts that households actually can use in their daily lives – their so-called ‘disposable income’ after they have paid federal and provincial/territorial income taxes. After-tax amounts represent a good basis for comparison to welfare, which is not subject to income taxation and is therefore effectively a de facto disposable income. Welfare incomes for the four illustrative households typically ranged between 20 and 40 percent of after-tax average incomes. Only two approach 50 percent and both are for single parents. In Newfoundland and Labrador, welfare incomes represent 49.5 percent of average incomes and in New Brunswick they stand at 47.4 percent of average incomes. The figures tell a powerful story about the adequacy of welfare incomes relative to the after-tax average incomes of Canadians. While the conclusions are basically the same when the welfare incomes are compared to after-tax median incomes – differences are typically only a few percentage points – the adequacy picture comes out only slightly better because of the different comparator base.

LETS DO THIS: Lets End Child Poverty for Good

2015 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada
Child poverty is not inevitable, but that it is a result of choices
-Campaign 2000 Find Campaign 2000's national report card on Child Poverty. They advocate that 1 in 5 Canadian children live in poverty, and that this is by design, rather than inevitability. The group profiles child poverty, programs that pull children and families out of povert and end intergenerational poverty, and makes recommendations on how to reduce poverty.  See Campaign 2000's website for more details. The 2015 report card, entitled Let’s Do This: Let’s End Child Poverty for Good outlines the once in ageneration opportunity before Canada to eradicate child and family poverty. With the federal government committed to collaboratively developing a national poverty reduction strategy, Canada must seize the opportunity to finally end the child poverty crisis for good.The report card offers practical policy recommendations to all political parties to redress the persistence of child poverty in Canada.  Campaign 2000 presents the latest statistics on child and family poverty and outlines how it impacts on multiple dimensions of children’s lives – including health, mental health, educational achievement and future employment opportunities.Several Campaign 2000 partners’ are also releasing their provincial report cards on child and family poverty on November 24th, with media events planned in Vancouver, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Charlottetown, PEI.  
Please click on the following links for all report cards:Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada, 2015 in English and FrenchCheck out our Infographic & share it & follow us on Twitter: @Campaign2000. Use the hash tags #LetsDoThis and  #EndChildPoverty and #cdnpoli when you tweet.British Columbia 2015 Child Poverty Report CardManitoba Report Card on Child and Family Poverty, 2015Nova Scotia 2015 Report Card: End it Now. 

On the Margins

A glimpse of poverty in Canada
Citizens for Public Justice releases an annual report or update on poverty in Canada. Poverty in Canada is persistenly leaving people on the margins. The report reviews national, provincial/territorial, and city rates. It also reviews federal party commitments, leading up the the federal election, and calls for a comprehensive national anti-poverty plan.    

Provincial/Territorial Monitor

October 2015
Lots of activity this month.  Highlights: Newfoundland and Labrador - a focus on caregiving, Ontario announces its ten-year homelessness plan, Manitoba reports progress on its mental health strategy and Alberta's new NDP government tables its first Budget. Five provinces announce Minimum Wage increases: Newfoundland/Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Federal Policy Monitor

October 2015
A quiet month as we waited for the election outcome, but Statistics Canada reports included the results of a Canadian demographic study, the impact of mental illness on family members, outcomes of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators program and details of youth labour force participation.

Provincial/Territorial Monitor

August 2015
August was an active policy month, particularly in Ontario and Manitoba.  Ontario's historic Political Accord with First Nations and a report from the province's Community Hub Frameword Advisory Group are highlights, as are disability announcements from Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.  The long-awaited Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy took a step closer to its unveiling, with the presentation of the recommendations of the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction.

Federal Policy Monitor

August 2015
August was quieter, policy-wise, as the election approaches.  Interesting postings from Statistics Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Calgary's Poverty Reduction Strategy

Enough for All
Vibrant Communities Calgary, the City of Calgary, the local United Way, and Momentum jointly created the city-wide Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative in 2011 with the support of Mayor Naheed Nenshi. The management of the poverty reduction initiative is now based within Vibrant Communities Calgary, which houses the main poverty reduction documents: the strategy, the approach, the community engagement reports, and implementation plan. The Strategy sets out four main pillars: All Calgary communities are strong, supportive and inclusive Everyone in Calgary has the income and assets to thrive Everyone in Calgary can easily access the right supports, services and resources All Aboriginal people are equal participants in Calgary's prosperous future. The 3 key outcomes of the Strategy are: By 2023, 95% of all Calgarians live at or above the Low-Income Cut-Off Line. By 2023, 90% of all Calgarians live at or above 125% of Low-Income Cut-Off rates. By 2018, poverty reduction is considered a high priority by Calgarians The implementation plan is based on 5 strategies: Increase the understanding of poverty Do business differently Emphasizing community self-sufficiency Reduce the disparity of Aboriginal income and poverty Increase awareness about the urban Aboriginal experience Find the Strategy and relevant background documents attached below.

A Profile of Poverty in Edmonton

A Report for End Poverty Edmonton, the Mayor's Taskforce to Eliminate Poverty
The Edmonton Social Planning Council was commissioned to create a profile of poverty in Edmonton, AB that presents baseline data and trend analysis to inform the goals and activities of the municipality's End Poverty Edmonton initiative.  The goal of the initiative is to present a Poverty Elimination Strategy to city council by September 2015 and create a long-term 10-year implementation plan with the community. The report concludes that more investment and policy change is required from other levels of government.  However, it is important for the municipality to understand which investments will have the most impact.  Key themes from the report include: An increasingly expanding, diverse population experiencing income inequality  A strong economy but significant numbers of working poor households The highest rates of poverty occurring for children 6 years old and under Read the full report attached below

Getting to Impact: Planning for Poverty Reduction

With Thunder Bay, ON and Revelstoke, BC
August 2015's Getting to Impact: Planning for Poverty Reduction community of practice call hears from Bonnie Krysowaty of Thunder Bay's Lakehead Social Planning Council, and Jill Zachiarias of Revelstoke's Community Social Development Commitee.  Our poverty reduction representatives walk us through their cases for poverty reduction, the structure and process used to set up their collaborative initiatives, explain how they've established their priorities, the progress they've been making, and share some very insightful aha! moments.Our discussion period further explores establishing main priorities using a cost of living analysis, gaining buy-in from the municipality, inviting and sustaining partnerships with people of lived experience of poverty, and successes and unexpected challenges along the way.Watch the presentations and find related resources below.