Canada’s poverty rate decreased significantly in 2020
Federal emergency and recovery benefits mitigated the pandemic’s economic impact
March 23, 2022 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has taken action to support Canadians and the Canadian economy. The economic shock wrought by the pandemic required an unprecedented government response to help Canadians weather its aftereffects.
Today, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould welcomed the results of the 2020 Canadian Income Survey, which showed that the government’s swift action in 2020 resulted in a substantial decrease in Canada’s overall poverty rate.
Federal emergency and recovery benefits introduced in 2020 through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan—in addition to programs at the provincial, territorial and municipal levels—played a key role in mitigating the pandemic’s impacts among vulnerable populations.
Between 2019 and 2020, the overall poverty rate fell by more than one third, from 10.3% to 6.4%, representing over 1.4 million fewer Canadians living in poverty, including 332,000 children and 162,000 seniors. In particular, the supports introduced in 2020 helped lift Canadians with the lowest income – those who were on the brink – out of poverty. In addition, income inequality in 2020 was at its lowest level in 45 years, which demonstrates meaningful progress towards the government’s goal of building a more inclusive and resilient economy.
The poverty rate in Canada has decreased steadily since 2015. While the results in the 2020 Canadian Income Survey are encouraging, they must be considered in the context of a year which saw unprecedented and temporary government income support measures. As Canada continues its recovery from the pandemic, with February 2022 seeing unemployment rates falling below pre-COVID-19 levels for the first time, the Government will continue to work to ensure a strong recovery for everyone.
“Quick government action helped lift Canadians out of poverty, when the pandemic could have pushed them over the brink. Today’s report is encouraging, but we know there is more to do to reduce poverty in Canada and ensure an inclusive recovery. Our government is working hard to grow a more resilient and inclusive economy that gives all Canadians a real and fair chance at success.”
– Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould
Canada’s overall poverty rate was estimated at 6.4% in 2020, down from 10.3% in 2019 and 14.5% in 2015.
The poverty rate was cut in half for children, to 4.7% in 2020, down from 9.4% in 2019. This decrease means that approximately 782,000 fewer children were living in poverty in 2020 compared to 2015.
The poverty rate for seniors was 3.1% in 2020, down from 5.7% in 2019. This decrease means that approximately 187,000 fewer seniors were living in poverty in 2020 compared to 2015.
This is the third release of Canadian Income Survey data since the Government of Canada launched Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy.
For the first time, the 2020 Canadian Income Survey included poverty rates for people designated as visible minorities. The 2020 poverty rate for persons designated as visible minorities was 8%, compared to 5.8% for the non-visible minority population.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould
Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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