Facts about Poverty

Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision-making

-The United Nations

Poverty is a violation of the most fundamental human rights possessed by every person. However, not everyone is equally susceptible to living in poverty. Historically marginalized groups such as Indigenous, racialized people, recent immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, single-parent families, seniors, youth, and 2SLGBTQ+ communities are more likely to live in poverty.

As of 2019, an estimated 10% of people in Canada currently live in conditions of poverty, but the poverty rate is expected to increase with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poverty statistics exclude people living in hidden poverty, which occurs when an individual earns above the poverty line, but cannot afford adequate food, hydro bills, childcare, or other basic necessities. Hidden poverty also encompasses undocumented people in Canada, and people who are on the brink of poverty.

Food insecurity occurs when individuals do not have access to adequately nutritious and/or culturally appropriate foods, due to a lack of financial means.

As with other dimensions of poverty, food insecurity is not experienced in isolation. Access to adequate affordable, culturally-appropriate, and nutritious foods can be closely linked to physical and mental health outcomes.

Household food insecurity by province/territory (2021)

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Individuals living with physical and mental health disabilities disproportionately experience persistent poverty. This is due to discrimination in the job market, a lack of jobs available for people requiring accessibility needs, disability benefit rates that are below the poverty line, surrounding health-related costs that are not covered by provincial healthcare, and physical barriers such as a lack of accessible transportation.

Unmet Health Care Needs by Province and Territory

This is measured by the number of Canadians that reported health care needs not being met when needed within the last 12 months. It is measured by the Canadian Community Health Survey. The most recent data is from 2014.

Percentage of Adults in the Lowest Income Household Population with at least one underlying health condition (95% confidence interval)

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Despite accounting for approximately 5% of Canada’s population, poverty rates amongst Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Metis) are disproportionately high. The experience of poverty amongst Indigenous populations is multifaceted and rooted in a long history of systemic violence and oppression by the Government of Canada and Catholic Church. Please refer to our resources for more information.

Prevalence of poverty amongst Indigenous populations by province (2016 Census)

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Communities that have faced systemic racial discrimination, exclusion, and other intersecting forms of oppression have higher poverty rates than White Canadians.

Recent immigrants, refugees, and people with precarious status who are racialized face barriers to employment and housing in Canada due to discrimination in the job market and exclusion from Government benefits, including access to healthcare.

Prevalence of Low Income Amongst Visible Minority Groups (2016)

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