Canada reaches lowest poverty rate in history

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In a country as prosperous as Canada, everyone should have a real and fair chance to succeed. The Government of Canada is focused on growth that benefits all Canadians, investing $22 billion since 2015 in efforts to help grow the middle class and reduce poverty.

Last week, Statistics Canada released results from the 2017 Canadian Income Survey, which revealed that the Poverty Reduction Strategy’s interim target of reducing poverty by 20 percent by 2020 had already been reached—a full three years ahead of schedule. By meeting this target, Canada has reached its lowest poverty rate in history.

“Fewer Canadians than ever are living in poverty and more are joining the middle class. However, we know there is much more to do. That is why we remain committed to cutting poverty in half by 2030 by building a diverse, prosperous and truly inclusive country where all Canadians can realize their full potential.” – The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Quick Facts

  • The median after-tax income for 2017 was $59,800, also the highest in Canadian history.
  • Data on Canada’s Official Poverty Line has been published by Statistics Canada since 2002.
  • Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy, released in August 2018, established the Market Basket Measure as Canada’s first Official Poverty Line.
  • A total of 3.4 million Canadians, representing 9.5 percent of the population, lived in poverty in 2017, down from 10.6 percent in 2016.
  • The data for 2017 also reflect the first full year of the Canada Child Benefit and the increased Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up, which were both implemented in July 2016.
  • Between 2015 and 2017, there was a decrease of 52,000 single seniors living below Canada’s Official Poverty Line.
  • The Poverty Reduction Strategy’s targets are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate poverty.

The poverty rate of 9.5 percent in 2017 represents the lowest rate of poverty ever based on Canada’s Official Poverty Line (formerly known as the Market Basket Measure). This historic low poverty rate represents an important step towards the Government of Canada’s goal to cut poverty in half by 2030.

The Government of Canada is working hard to reduce the number of Canadians living in poverty and strengthen the economy. With the help of programs such as the Canada Child Benefit and the top-up to the Guaranteed Income Supplement, there were 825,000 fewer Canadians living in poverty in 2017 than there were in 2015. More are expected to be lifted out of poverty as the impacts of these investments are realized in the years to come.

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