Canada’s poverty rate remains below pre-pandemic levels
May 3, 2023 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada took unprecedented action to support Canadians and ensure a robust economic recovery. By March 2023, 865,000 more Canadians were employed than before the pandemic. However, higher inflation rates are making it difficult for many Canadians to make ends meet, and higher prices on essential goods are causing undue stress. In the face of global inflation and rising costs, the Government of Canada continues to provide much-needed relief to Canadians.
Today, Statistics Canada released results from the 2021 Canadian Income Survey, which showed that the growth in median market income more than offset the decline observed in 2020 and brought the median market income 3.5% higher than its 2019 level. The results also showed that Canada’s overall poverty rate was 7.4% in 2021, following the end of temporary emergency pandemic benefits that were provided in 2020. This is below the 2019 pre-pandemic rate of 10.3%, and nearly half the 2015 rate (14.5%), the baseline year for Canada’s legislated poverty reduction targets.
In 2021, there were close to 2.3 million fewer Canadians living in poverty compared to 2015, including 653,000 fewer children,11,000 fewer seniors, and 556,000 fewer persons with a disability. The Government remains committed to reaching its goal of a 50% reduction in poverty by 2030 based on 2015 levels.
Many Canadians are concerned about higher costs of living and the impact of these costs on personal and household finances. That is why the Government of Canada is continuing to make significant investments through targeted social programs and income supplements to reduce poverty, mitigate food insecurity and increase well-being, such as the enhancement to the Canada Workers Benefit, the introduction of a Canada-wide early learning and child care system, the new Canada Dental Benefit, and the proposed one-time Grocery Rebate announced in Budget 2023.
“We know that many Canadians are feeling stressed and anxious about higher costs of living and higher prices on essential goods following the unprecedented pandemic. Since 2015, our government has been there for Canadians and has made important progress on reducing poverty and making life more affordable, but we know there is more work to do. Through Budget 2023, we will deliver new, targeted inflation relief for the Canadians who need it most, and we will continue working hard to support low-income Canadians currently struggling with high costs of living.”
– Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould
The Government has made significant investments through targeted social programs and income supplements to make life more affordable for Canadians. These programs and benefits include:
- the newly enhanced Canada Workers Benefit, which supports workers earning lower wages;
- the Canada Child Benefit, which provides substantial tax-free income support to families that are raising children;
- the newly increased Old Age Security, which provides income security for Canadian seniors;
- the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which provides additional financial assistance to eligible seniors who receive little to no income beyond their Old Age Security pension;
- child care cost reductions as part of a Canada-wide early learning and child care system;
- the new Canada Dental Benefit;
- the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit; and
- the one-time grocery rebate that was announced in Budget 2023.
Canada’s overall poverty rate was estimated at 7.4% in 2021, up from 6.4% in 2020 and down from 14.5% in 2015.
The poverty rate for children was 6.4% in 2021, up from 4.7% in 2020. When compared to 2015, there were approximately 653,000 fewer children living in poverty in 2021.
The poverty rate for seniors was 5.6% in 2021, up from 3.1% in 2020. When compared to 2015, there were approximately 11,000 fewer seniors living in poverty in 2021.
The poverty rate for persons designated as visible minorities was 9.5% in 2021, compared to 6.5% for the non-visible minority population.
In 2021, 18.4% of Canadians lived in households that experienced marginal, moderate or severe food insecurity, compared to 15.7% in 2020.
This is the fourth release of Canadian Income Survey data since the Government of Canada launched Opportunity for All - Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy.
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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