Canadian Social Research Links

Poverty Measures
Canadian Resources

Sites de recherche sociale au Canada

Mesures de pauvreté :
ressources canadiennes

Updated December 23, 2016
Page révisée le 23 décembre 2016

[ Go to Canadian Social Research Links Home Page ]

On this page, you'll find links to Canadian resources on the subject of poverty measures.


Related pages
on this website:

* Poverty Measures - International resources page - links to American and other international poverty measures
*
Social Statistics page - links to social program statistics for Canada and other countries
* Asset-Based Social Policies Links page - links to info on asset-based approaches to social policy
* Links to info on antipoverty measures and poverty reduction/elimination initiatives:
[ Antipoverty - Provincial/territorial ] [ Antipoverty - National and International ]


See also:
(these links take you further down on the page you're now reading)

* Canadian Standard Budgets As Alternative Poverty Measures
* Statistics Canada income/poverty data (LICOs, LIMS, etc.)
* The Fraser Institute poverty lines
* The Market Basket Measure
* Canadian Index of Wellbeing
* The Ontario Deprivation Index
* The British Columbia Atlas of Wellness
* Newfoundland and Labrador Market Basket Measure

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NEW

December 23, 2016
2016: The year in statistics
StatCan Blog, December 2016
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/161223/dq161223e-eng.htm
2016: The year in statistics : As 2016 winds down, Statistics Canada is gearing up for some exciting times. Not only will data from the 2016 Census of Population be released in 2017, but it will also be Canada's 150th birthday. Then, in 2018, it will be the agency's own centennial. But before saying goodbye to 2016, this month's StatCan Blog article [ http://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/blog/cs/2016-year-in-statistics ] is taking the time to look back at the highlights of an interesting year.

Excerpt from "New measures to track inflation":
In November 2016, Statistics Canada presented three additional measures to track inflation. These new measures—Consumer Price Index (CPI)-trim (trimmed mean), CPI-median (weighted median) and CPI-common (common component)—replaced the core index and will be used by the Bank of Canada to obtain a more comprehensive view of inflation in Canada.

Source:
Statistics Canada

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/start-debut-eng.html

2016 Canadian Index of Wellbeing National Report
November 22, 2016

There is growing interest in measuring and reporting social progress and impact. Our working paper, commissioned by Manulife, maps our national indicators and wellbeing survey questions to sustainable development goals.

Is our overall quality of life getting better or worse? Are we getting closer or moving farther away from realizing the kind of Canada we want to live in? The 2016 Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) national report compares trends in Canadian wellbeing, showing that the gap between economic growth and wellbeing is

The 2016 National Index Report: How Are Canadians Really Doing?
November 22, 2016
Executive Summary:
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/reports/2016-canadian-index-wellbeing-national-report/executive-summary

Complete report:
HTML version:
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/reports/2016-canadian-index-wellbeing-national-report
PDF version (1.5MB, 96 pages):
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/sites/ca.canadian-index-wellbeing/files/uploads/files/ciw2016-howarecanadiansreallydoing-1994-2014-22nov2016.pdf

Version française :

Introduction (en français):
https://uwaterloo.ca/indice-canadien-du-mieux-etre/

Comment les Canadiens se portent-ils véritablement? Le Rapport National de L'ICM 2016 (Sommaire) PDF.
https://uwaterloo.ca/indice-canadien-du-mieux-etre/sites/ca.indice-canadien-du-mieux-etre/files/uploads/files/ciw_icm_2016-sommaire-final-embargoed_1.pdf

L'étude elle-même est disponible seulement en anglais.

Communiqué (PDF - 2 pages):
https://uwaterloo.ca/indice-canadien-du-mieux-etre/sites/ca.indice-canadien-du-mieux-etre/files/uploads/files/icm_communique_de_presse.pdf

------------------------------------------

Human Rights and Poverty Reduction Strategies:
A Guide to International Human Rights Law and its
Domestic Application in Poverty Reduction Strategies
(PDF - 217KB, 20 pages)
http://www.cwp-csp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/FINAL-Human-Rights-Guide-August-2015.pdf

Table of contents:

* Introduction
* Who should read this Guide?
* What you will learn from this Guide?

II. The Human Rights Approach
What are human rights and where do they come from?
How are human rights relevant to my work?
What rights are important for people living in poverty?
What is the human rights approach to poverty reduction?
Why is the human rights approach the right approach?

III. Putting the Human Rights Approach into Action
Identifying people living in poverty
Incorporating international human rights standards
Consulting people who live in poverty
Promoting substantive equality and non-discrimination
Setting goals and establishing timelines
Monitoring progress
Ensuring accountability

IV. Checklist

Selected content (from the Foreword):
This Guide is not intended to replace existing poverty reduction strategies, but to inform their development and execution. It is designed to complement, strengthen and give greater meaning to the vital work that is already being done to address poverty in provinces and municipalities across Canada.

Source:
Canada Without Poverty

http://www.cwp-csp.ca/

From Statistics Canada:

July 8, 2015
Income Research Paper Series: "Low Income Lines, 2013-2014"
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2015001-eng.htm

Low Income Lines, 2013-2014 (PDF)
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2015001-eng.pdf
Release date: July 8, 2015

Earlier work on low income lines
from the Income Research Paper Series:
http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/olc-cel/olc.action?objId=75F0002M&objType=2&lang=en&limit=0

How’s Life in the City? Life Satisfaction Across Census Metropolitan Areas and Economic Regions in Canada
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-626-x/11-626-x2015046-eng.htm
By Chaohui Lu, Grant Schellenberg, Feng Hou and John F. Helliwell
April 20, 2015
PDF version (692KB) : http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-626-x/11-626-x2015046-eng.pdf
This Economic Insights article provides an overview of the life satisfaction expressed by individuals in census metropolitan areas and economic regions across Canada. The results are based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey [ http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&SDDS=3226 ] and the General Social Survey [ http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89f0115x/89f0115x2013001-eng.htm ].

Average life satisfaction from 2009 to 2013 across Canada’s 33 CMAs ranges from about 7.8 (on a scale with a maximum value of 10) in Vancouver, Toronto, and Windsor, to around 8.2 in St. John’s, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay.

Source:
Statistics Canada

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/start-debut-eng.html

---

Related link:

Canada's Most Satisfied People Live In Saguenay: StatsCan
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/04/20/canada-most-satisfied-life-saguenay_n_7103876.html
By Jesse Ferreras
April 20, 2015

Source:
Huffington Post Canada
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/

Making Sense of Poverty Measures
http://cpj.ca/content/making-sense-poverty-measures
By Katherine Scott
October 9, 2014
Every Fall, many in the anti-poverty movement in Canada report on poverty trends. First with CPJ’s annual poverty report [see http://cpj.ca/research-reports ] on October 17th, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and again when Campaign 2000 releases its National Report Card [ see http://www.campaign2000.ca/reportcards.html ] on November 24th , the anniversary of the all-party resolution to eliminate poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000, passed unanimously by the House of Commons in 1989. And every Fall, there is a debate about the best poverty measure to use.

Canada has no official poverty measure. Instead, Statistics Canada produces three main measures of low income: the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO), the Low Income Measure (LIM), and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). And so the discussion grinds on as to the best measure for credible and consistent reporting on poverty. Each measure has its advantages and its limitations. But much public confusion and debate have resulted as individuals and groups have used the different measures in their work...

Source:
Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ)
http://cpj.ca/
CPJ is a national organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy.

Related link from StatCan:

Low Income in Canada - A Multi-line and Multi-index Perspective (PDF - 784K, 112 pages)
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2012001-eng.htm
By Brian Murphy, Xuelin Zhang and Claude Dionne
March 2012
International practice has shown that using a number of different low-income thresholds can facilitate a more complete picture of the low-income population and this report examines three such lines: Statistics Canada's after-tax low income measure (LIM) and after-tax low income cut-off (LICO), and the Market Basket Measure (MBM) of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). [October 2014 update : this Department is now known as Employment and Social Development Canada]. None of these lines is considered definitive and all have their strengths and limitations. Together they allow a more complete examination of the low income population in Canada.

This report uses these three thresholds applied to the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) to present and examine broad trends in the low-income population over a 34 year period from 1976 to 2009, with particular attention given to the changes between 2007 and 2009. The report examines the incidence (rate), gap ratio (depth), severity and persistence of low income for Canada as a whole and across different provinces, cities, family types, as well as for specific groups with a high risk of persistent low income.

Source:
Statistics Canada
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/

From the
Canadian Index of Wellbeing:

New Ontario index puts wellbeing at the forefront
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/sites/ca.canadian-index-wellbeing/files/uploads/files/ontarioreport-accessible_0.pdf
April 29, 2014
With its first Ontario-focused study released today, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) at the University of Waterloo analyzes how well people in the province are really doing in the areas of their lives that matter the most.

Using the same approach that assessed quality of life for all Canadians in its previous 2012 report, the CIW focuses on the residents of Ontario in its new study commissioned by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). Among its findings, the report entitled, “How Are Ontarians Really Doing?" (PDF) reveals that over a 17-year period, GDP in Ontario has grown almost four times more than our overall wellbeing.

Complete report:

How are Ontarians Really Doing?
A Provincial Report on Ontario Wellbeing
(PDF - 624K, 68 pages)
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/sites/ca.canadian-index-wellbeing/files/uploads/files/ontarioreport-accessible_0.pdf
April 2014
Contents:
* The Canadian index of wellbeing: a more meaningful story
* What is the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)?
* How are Ontarians Really Doing?
--- Education
--- Community vitality
--- Healthy populations
--- Democratic Engagement
--- Environment
--- Leisure and Culture
--- Time Use
--- Living standards
* A Call to Action: People and Policy for Positive Change
* Conclusion
* Appendix A: The CIW Methodology in Ontario

Related link:

CIW Blog
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/blog

Source:
Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/
Created through the combined efforts of national leaders and organisations, community groups, international research experts, indicator users, and in consultation with hundreds of Canadians, the CIW encompasses eight domains that contribute to, and affect, the wellbeing of Canadians.
[The eight domains are those appearing above, under " How are Ontarians Really Doing?"]

From
Indicators of Well-being in Canada:
http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/h.4m.2@-eng.jsp

How many Canadians have a paying job? What levels of education do we have, and how does that compare with other countries? What proportion of marriages end in divorce? How long can we expect to live? Have there been any big changes over the last 20 years or so? This Indicators of Well-being in Canada website helps to answer such questions. Developed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), its purpose is to systematically present measures and report on various aspects of well-being that are important to Canadians.

Indicators:
Work
Learning
Financial Security
Family Life
Housing
Social Participation
Leisure
Health
Security
Environment

Additions and Updates to the Website
http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/c.4nt.2nt@-eng.jsp?cid=whatsnewal
Latest site update : November 22, 2013
The following indicators have been updated with the latest data:

Family Income
Retirement Income
Low Income Incidence
Income Distribution
Housing Starts
Rental Vacancy Rates
Age of Mother at Childbirth
Population Size and Growth
Geographic Distribution
Immigration
Aboriginal Population

Source:
Employment and Social Development Canada
http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/home.shtml
(formerly Human Resources and Skills Development Canada)

New from
The Fraser Institute:

Poverty: Where do we draw the line?
http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/display.aspx?id=20579
November 14, 2013
By Chris Sarlo
This paper is the latest in a series of studies on the measurement of poverty in Canada. It provides new estimates of poverty in Canada using the Basic Needs Line. It determines the trend in poverty over the past 40 years, and provides a fairly detailed profile of the poor.
(...)
The paper is much more than an update of the estimates of basic needs poverty. It looks more carefully at the debate about absolute and relative measures. It examines more critically, and in far more depth, the media treatment of the poverty issue. The paper highlights a number of concerns about the media coverage of poverty. (...)

The complete report:

Poverty : Where do we draw the line? (PDF - 1.3MB, 64 pages)
http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research-news/research/publications/Poverty-where-do-we-draw-the-line.pdf
By Christopher Sarlo
November 2013

Contents:
Introduction
Why not a relative approach?
The basic needs poverty measure
Estimating poverty in Canada
Media coverage of the poverty issue
Further issues for Canadian poverty research
Conclusion
References

Excerpt from
the executive summary:
... the measurement of poverty cannot be an exercise in compassion. In the process of counting the number of poor people, we should set aside how we feel about poverty and what we think should be done about it. Making this kind of distinction is common in economics, but unfortunately not with the measurement of poverty.

[ Author Chris A. Sarlo is professor of economics at Nipissing University in North Bay and is a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. He is also the author of the definitive Bible of absolute poverty measurement in Canada, a series of reports released starting in 1992. You'll find links to several of those reports at this link: http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/poverty.htm#fraser ]

Source:
The Fraser Institute
http://www.fraserinstitute.org/
Motto : "A free and prosperous world through choice, markets and responsibility"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Related links:

A Canada without compassion: A modest proposal from the Fraser Institute
http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/behind-numbers/2013/11/canada-without-compassion-modest-proposal-fraser-institute
By Kate McInturff
November 15, 2013
The Fraser Institute would like to remove compassion from the policy debate about poverty in Canada. Why? Because, according to the author of its latest report on poverty, Christopher Sarlo, compassion is causing us to confuse those who have lower income with those who do not have enough income to sustain life. For Sarlo, those who use relative measures of poverty, which set a poverty line relative to, for example, the median income in Canada, are being misled by emotions. He writes: "Poverty, like disability, is an emotional issue, laden with strong feelings of sadness and disapprobation, but there is surely some value in setting emotion aside in order to measure the phenomenon as objectively as possible."

Source:
rabble.ca

http://rabble.ca/

---

Being clear
http://www.thetelegram.com/Opinion/Editorials/2013-11-14/article-3479531/Being-clear/1
November 14, 2013
[Editorial in anticipation of an upcoming keynote address to the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council by Jason Clemens, the executive vice-president of the Fraser Institute.]
---
If poverty is a condition of serious deprivation, then we should find a way to objectively determine the number of people who are, in fact, likely to be deprived in that way,’ says Christopher Sarlo, professor of economics at Nipissing University, Fraser Institute senior fellow and author of ‘Poverty: Where do we Draw the Line?’”
And where is that line going to fall?
That’s also an interesting question — but for God’s sake, let’s not get bogged down with feelings for those suffering in poverty when an empirical benchmark would be far more useful. Perhaps we should develop that same sort of benchmark test to redefine the agencies that can benefit from claiming charitable status, diverting money from where it can truly help people.

Source:
The Telegram
(St. John's, NL)
http://www.thetelegram.com/

---

And finally...

The Fraser Institute Produces Junk: Graham Steele (Nova Scotia Finance Minister)
By Alex Boutilier
September 13, 2011
"Remember (...) the next time you ask me about something else the Fraser Institute produces, that even when I could say 'yes, this is validation of what we're saying.'
It's crap. I'm sorry, are ministers not supposed to say that?"

Canada is one of the happiest countries in the world, study finds
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canada-is-one-of-the-happiest-countries-in-the-world-study-finds/article14183382/
By Tavia Grant
September 9, 2013
Canada is one of the happiest countries in the world, according to a global ranking of well-being that uses measures such as life expectancy and corruption to assess the progress of nations. Canada ranks sixth in the United Nations’ second world happiness report. That's down a notch from the last ranking – not because Canadians are any less happy, but because Switzerland leapfrogged into the top five. Denmark tops the list, followed by Norway.
(...)
The study looked at both peoples' current mood and their overall life satisfaction. It found six factors help shape changes in well-being: per capita GDP, life expectancy, having someone to count on, freedom to make life choices, generosity and freedom from corruption.

87 comments about this article:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canada-is-one-of-the-happiest-countries-in-the-world-study-finds/article14183382/comments/

Source:
The Globe and Mail
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

---------------------------------------------------

From the
UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network
http://unsdsn.org/ :

World Happiness Report 2013
http://unsdsn.org/happiness/
Report calls on policy makers to make happiness a key measure and target of development
Report ranks the happiest countries, with Northern Europe in the lead
NEW YORK,
September 9, 2013
As heads of state get ready for the United Nations General Assembly in two weeks, the second World Happiness Report further strengthens the case that well-being should be a critical component of how the world measures its economic and social development. The report is published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), under the auspices of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Download the complete report:

PDF version (2.3MB, 156 pages)
http://unsdsn.org/files/2013/09/WorldHappinessReport2013_online.pdf

Online version (requires Flash Player)
http://issuu.com/earthinstitute/docs/worldhappinessreport2013_online

Online Annexes:
http://unsdsn.org/happiness/#related
* World Happiness: Trends, Explanations and Distribution (Distribution tables for chapter 2 - no text)
* How mental health affects life-satisfaction by Sarah Flèche (mostly stats)

New release from
The Fraser Institute:

The Cost of Raising Children
http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/display.aspx?id=20274
August 22, 2013
News Release
By Chris Sarlo*
The annual cost of raising a child is important information-for its own sake and also for public policy purposes. Such estimates can be helpful to parents or prospective parents. It can also inform policies related to child benefits and possible parental child support obligations. This paper reviews prevailing approaches to the measurement of child costs and proposes budget based alternatives.

Complete report:

The Cost of Raising Children (PDF - 2.1MB, 72 pages)
http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research-news/research/publications/MeasuringCostChildren.pdf

[ * Author Chris A. Sarlo is professor of economics at Nipissing University in North Bay and is a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. He is also the author of the definitive Bible of Absolute poverty measurement in Canada, a series of reports over a 14-year period starting in 1992. You'll find links to seven of those reports at this link:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/poverty.htm#fraser ]

Source:
The Fraser Institute

http://www.fraserinstitute.org/

----------------------------------------------------

From the CBC:

Is raising a child easier financially than ever before?
Conservative think-tank Fraser Institute says it's possible to raise child on $4K a year or less

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/08/22/child-care-costs-fraser-institute.html
August 22, 2013
The Fraser Institute says it's never been easier financially to raise a child in Canada, with the annual cost much lower than many believe, a finding criticized by some who argue the think-tank fails to account for the cost of daycare.

Child Care by the Numbers
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2013/07/22/f-child-care-numbers.html

Source:
CBC News

http://www.cbc.ca/news/

----------------------------------------------------

Commentary by the
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

Leaving Children out in the Cold
http://behindthenumbers.ca/2013/08/23/leaving-children-out-in-the-cold/
August 23, 2013
By Kate McInturff
Apparently people get all subjective when they talk about children. Thank goodness we have economists. Not those crazy “social welfare” people who are “lobbying the state for more resources for families with children.” Real economists. With real facts. Economists like Christopher Sarlo, from the Fraser Institute, who published a real report (The Cost of Raising Children) on the real cost of raising children in Canada.
(...)
Affordable housing is essential to ensuring that parents can provide safe living conditions for their children. Affordable housing can make the difference between abused women and children staying in an unsafe setting or leaving it. And providing affordable and safe childcare? Well, according to those social welfare activists at TD Economics [ PDF : http://goo.gl/xgwPu ], investing in child care “fosters greater labor force participation”; it increases job opportunities; and it “reduces duration of unemployment if it occurs.” As if that isn’t enough, TD Economics goes on to conclude that investing in child care “can also reduce poverty and help to address income inequality.”

[ Author Kate McInturff is a CCPA research associate and an expert on gender budgeting and women’s human rights. ]

Source:
Behind the Numbers (CCPA Blog)
http://behindthenumbers.ca/
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/

----------------------------------------------------

Commentary by
The Wellesley Institute:

Raising a child is cheap and cheerful, as long as mom stays at home
http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/news/raising-a-child-is-cheap-and-cheerful-as-long-as-mom-stays-at-home/
August 22, 2013
By Steve Barnes
A new report released by the Fraser Institute claims that it is possible to raise a child on about $3,000-$4,000 per year. The catch is that, apparently, child care is a ‘frill’.
Their approach is that expenses associated with having a child, like clothing, food, and education, can be separated from other household expenses. Expenses that households would incur regardless of whether they have children, like housing, transportation, furnishings, and TVs, weren’t counted.
(...)
Child care costs aren’t ‘frills’ – they’re a reality for many families. In 2005, the average cost of a private child care space in Toronto was $32.48 per hour and there are 18,938 children on the waitlist for a child care subsidy.
(...)
Quebec offers all parents $7 per day child care, and research has shown that this investment more than pays for itself through increased workforce participation. We need more of these kinds of programs and less bluster about how raising a child is cheap and cheerful, as long as mom stays at home.

Source:
Wellesley Institute

http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/

Fewer people sit below the poverty line now than ever before.
Why are we not talking about it?

http://goo.gl/QfUZ5c
By Andrew Coyne
July 22, 2013
It’s been almost a month since Statistics Canada released its latest report on poverty in Canada (“Income of Canadians,” June 27 : http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/130627/dq130627c-eng.htm ). Since then I’ve been watching to see whether somebody, anybody would write about it. You would think somebody would. It is a well-established principle of social justice that a society should make its first priority improving the lot of the worst off among it, and is to be judged by how well it does in this regard. What is more, the news on this front is remarkable, even extraordinary.

In 2011, the latest year for which StatsCan has figures, the proportion of the population living on low income — that is, with incomes below the agency’s Low Income Cut-off (LICO) — fell to its lowest level … well, ever.

[ A National Post original, Andrew Coyne's journalism career has also included positions with Maclean's, the Globe and Mail and the Southam newspaper chain. ]

Source:
National Post
http://www.nationalpost.com/

---------

Riposte:

Canada — not so good on poverty, after all
http://goo.gl/A8qiCT
By Rick Goldman
July 30, 2013

In his column last week, Andrew Coyne used a statistical sleight of hand to portray Canada as a champion in reducing poverty. He takes the lowest point of an economic downturn (1996), compares it to today and says, “Voilà, amazing progress has been made! The percentage of people below the Low-Income Cut-off has been nearly halved, from 15.5% to 8.8 %!”

A less selective use of statistics might have noted that this LICO figure stood at 10.2% in 1989, revealing a much less impressive rate of progress than Coyne’s figures would lead us to believe. At this rate, it will take us another 150 years to eliminate poverty in Canada.
(...)
In the final analysis, questions of income distribution, including how much poverty a society will tolerate, are simply political choices. Other countries, while facing the same supposedly unstoppable forces of globalization, have done much better than Canada in terms of poverty and inequality, without sacrificing productivity or international competitiveness.

[ Author Rick Goldman is a Montreal lawyer and part-time lecturer in the McGill School of Social Work.]

Source:
National Post
http://www.nationalpost.com/

From the
Centre for the Study of Living Standards:

CSLS Releases Study on Estimates of the Human Development Index
for the Canadian Territories and Provinces: Alberta Ranks First
(PDF - 168K, 2 pages)
http://csls.ca/PressReleaseMay182012.pdf
May 18, 2012
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards today released a major study entitled “The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories.” This is the first study that has developed estimates of the Human Development Index (HDI) for the provinces and territories that are consistent with the official HDI estimates for Canada produced by the United Nations. The HDI is based on life expectancy, average years of education attainment, expected years of education, and Gross National Income.

Selected key findings:

* In 2011, Alberta ranked as the jurisdiction with the highest HDI in Canada, closely followed by Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and British Columbia. Nunavut ranked last, and Prince Edward Island second last.

* For both life expectancy and average educational attainment, British Columbia ranked first among the 13 provinces and territories and Nunavut ranked last. For expected years of schooling, Quebec ranked at the top and Nunavut came in last, while for GNI per capita, Northwest Territories was in first place and Prince Edward Island was in last place.
(...)

The report provides a comprehensive picture of developments in life expectancy, average education attainment, expected years of schooling, and Gross National Income per capita for all provinces and territories over the 2000-2011 period.

---

Complete report:

The Human Development Index in Canada:
Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories, 2000-2011
(PDF - 1.7MB, 79 pages)
http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls2012-02.pdf

Source:
Centre for the Study of Living Standards
http://csls.ca/

Indicators of Well-being in Canada
http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/h.4m.2@-eng.jsp
This report gathers data from different sources and presents a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of the well-being of Canadians and Canadian society. It also shows how this picture may be changing over time. (...)
You will find a wide range of indicators, or statistical measures, that show how things are going for Canadians. For example, there are data on how many hours we work each week, our education levels compared with the levels in other countries, the affordability of housing, and much more.
Areas of well-being that are covered in this report include:
*
Work * Learning * Financial Security * Family Life * Housing * Social Participation * Leisure * Health * Security * Environment

Each of these areas is further broken down into sub-groups.
For example, "Financial Security" [ http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/d.4m.1.3n@-eng.jsp?did=4 ] includes:
Standard of Living - Family Income - Retirement Income - Low Income Incidence - Low Income Persistence - Net Worth (Wealth) - Life events - Personal Bankruptcies - Key influences - Income Distribution

Recommended reading!
The timeliness of the information and statistics in this HRSDC sub-site varies by area and sub-group --- some analysis dates back to 2007 and earlier, but most of the stats and trend analysis are for the year 2009. The content of certain sections is more recent --- for example, the What's New page [ http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/c.4nt.2nt@-eng.jsp?cid=28 ] shows that on September 8, 2011, "t
he following indicators have been updated with the latest data: Life Expectancy at Birth - Infant Mortality - Patient Satisfaction - Low Birth Weight - Victims of Property Crime - Victims of Violent Crime - Age of Mother at Childbirth"

Source:
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/home.shtml

Measuring social exclusion in Canada:
an Explanatory Study on Cumulative Disadvantage

Joël Gauthier and Myriam Fortin presented major findings from their research on social exclusion at the International Conference on poverty reduction and poverty measurement in Montreal (November 30 - December 2, 2011 - see the link below).

The objectives of this research were to propose an operational definition of social exclusion, then, using this definition, to explore the extent of social exclusion in Canada and identify some characteristics that significantly increase the probability of being excluded. Using data from the first six cycles of the National Population Health Survey and seven dimensions to investigate exclusion (weak labour force attachment, low income, low level of education, poor health, food insecurity, dissatisfaction with neighbourhood and weak social support), this research found that over 1994 to 2004, 8.5% of working-age Canadians accumulated disadvantages on at least three of those dimensions of exclusion (and as such are considered 'excluded' according to our working definition), while another 3.6% accumulated at least four (and are considered 'deeply excluded'). The characteristics that most increase the probability of exclusion and deep exclusion are being a member of a lone parent family, being unattached, having experienced serious traumas during childhood (e.g. physical abuse), and living in Eastern Canada.

By Gilles:
I'm told that the conference proceedings, including the presentation by Gauthier and Fortin, will "soon" be available in electronic format from Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal [ http://www.pum.umontreal.ca/ ] and other digital bookstores. When the book is available, you'll find links to bookstores where you can purchase a copy on the website of the Quebec Inter-University Centre for Social Statistics [ http://www.ciqss.umontreal.ca/en/whatsNew.html ]

Social Statistics, Poverty and Social Exclusion:
Perspectives from Quebec, Canada and Abroad

International Conference on poverty reduction and
poverty measurement in Canada and the world

http://www.ciqss.umontreal.ca/conf_statsoc_2011/presentation_en.html
November 30 - December 2, 2011
Montreal
The main objective of this international conference was to take stock of the state of current research and identify knowledge gaps.

Preliminary program (PDF - 805K, 6 pages)
http://www.ciqss.umontreal.ca/conf_statsoc_2011/program.html

Organizing Institutions:

* Quebec Inter-University Centre for Social Statistics
http://www.ciqss.umontreal.ca/en/whatsNew.html

* Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (English home page)
http://www.mess.gouv.qc.ca/Index_en.asp

Conference on poverty reduction and poverty measurement
in Canada and the world:

Social Statistics, Poverty and Social Exclusion:
Perspectives from Quebec, Canada and Abroad

International conference
November 30 - December 2, 2011
Montreal

Version française du site:
Conférence internationale Statistiques sociales, exclusion sociale et pauvreté :
perspectives québécoises, canadiennes et internationales

30 novembre - 2 décembre 2011
Montréal

The main objective of this international conference is to take stock of the state of current research and identify knowledge gaps:
* How can poverty data be used to compare the situation in different industrialized nations?
* What are the scope and the limitations of such comparisons?
* How can we define the main dimensions and develop appropriate indicators of social exclusion?
* How can we develop process indicators that will allow us to recognize situations of exclusion?
* How can social statistics be used to study the influencing factors and the consequences of all dimensions of poverty?
* How can statistics be used to study the financial and social cost of poverty, material deprivation, the use of rights, life courses and solutions?
* How can we use statistics to build a score card that accounts for all those dimensions to evaluate the outcomes of the Act to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion?

Conference Themes
1: Interprovincial and International Comparisons of Poverty: indicators and data sources
2: Influencing Factors and Consequences of Poverty
3: Dimensions of Social Exclusion
4: Recent Developments and future perspectives

Preliminary program (PDF - 805K, 6 pages)

Register online - early bird special until October 21!

Organizing Institutions:
* Quebec Inter-University Centre for Social Statistics
* Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale

NEW


Governments and non-governmental organizations generally tend to use one of two ways of looking at and measuring poverty -- in absolute or relative terms.

(There are also subjective measures, i.e., polls and surveys about poverty, but this page deals mainly with the quantitative measurement of poverty.)

Absolute measures of poverty compare household income with the cost of a basket of specific goods and services. The Fraser Institute's Christopher Sarlo (see below) has written extensively on poverty in Canada in recent years. His publications on the subject of poverty measurement are considered by many as the bibles of the absolute poverty measure in Canada.

You'll find links to some of these reports and commentaries in the Fraser Institute section of this page.

Relative poverty measures compare household income and spending patterns of groups or individuals with the income and spending patterns of the general population. 
Statistics Canada's Low income cut-offs (LICOs) [this link takes you lower down on this page] are considered by most as the bible of relative poverty measures in Canada. 

Within those two broad approaches, there are a number of variations, just as there are a number groups in Canada involved in poverty measurement.

The debate over poverty lines is much broader than absolute and relative measures of poverty. It touches on societal values - what level of poverty do we find tolerable in Canada? What other "benchmarks" can use to assess how well we're doing as a society? Many social researchers and advocates feel that quality of life and social indicators should also be included in the study of poverty. I agree with them; that's why you'll find links on this page to sites and documents dealing with the human side of poverty, like Statistics Canada's Health Indicators and the Canadian Index of Wellbeing.

Overviews of poverty measurement in Canada:

June 18, 2012
Low Income Lines, 2010-2011
HTML version:
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2012002-eng.htm
PDF version (436K, 38 pages):
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2012002-eng.pdf
NOTE : Includes detailed information on each of the three measures listed below.
In order to provide a holographic or complete picture of low income, Statistics Canada implements an approach that uses three complementary low income lines: the Low Income Cut-offs (LICOs), the Low Income Measures (LIMs) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). While the first two lines were developed by Statistics Canada, the MBM is based on concepts developed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Though these measures differ from one another, they give a generally consistent picture of low income status over time. None of these measures is the best. Each contributes its own perspective and its own strengths to the study of low income, so that cumulatively, the three provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of low income as a whole. These measures are not measures of poverty, but strictly measures of low income. (bolding added for emphasis - see below)
---
Click the links in the left sidebar of the
HTML version to access the following sections:

* Introduction
* Historical Revision of 2006 to 2009
* Low Income Cut-offs
* Low income measures
* Market Basket Measure (2008 base)
* Low income rate and low income gap ratio
* Tables and figure
* Annex
* Annual consumer price index
* References
* More information

---

StatCan is religiously sticking to its script that "these measures are not measures of poverty, but strictly measures of low income."
In fact the agency has been consistently repeating that disclaimer since Ivan Fellegi, a former Chief Statistician of Canada, posted the following edict on his agency's website in 1997:

"On poverty and low income" - by Ivan Fellegi (1997)
- explains why his agency's low income cut-offs should not be used as the "official" poverty line for Canada.

In the absence of a universally accepted poverty line, non-governmental groups have opted to consider LICOs as a proxy for poverty.

----------------------

Related link:

A New Era for Measuring Poverty in Canada
Posted by Iglika Ivanova
June 18, 2010
Last Thursday’s Statistics Canada release of individual and household income data for 2008 marks a new era in the study of poverty in Canada. Instead of reporting only on the Low Income Cut Offs (LICO), as they used to, Statistics Canada reported on three of the most common measures of low income in the same publication (LICO, the low income measure and the market basket measure). Gone are the days of looking for different studies produced by different institutions to compare trends of low income in Canada. Even more importantly for those of us looking for reliable and timely data on low incomes, Statistics Canada has now taken over producing the Market Basket Measure (MBM) from HRSDC.
Source:
Relentlessly Progressive Economics Blog
[ The Progressive Economics Forum ]

An oldie goldie:

Low Income Measurement in Canada (PDF file - 220K, 20 pages)
December 2004
by Philip Giles
Description and comparison of measures of low income:
- Low-income cutoffs (LICO)
- Low income measures (LIM)
- Market Basket Measure (MBM)
- Future developments
Source:
Statistics Canada

Lies, damn lies and...
Poverty statistics?

If your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of poverty lines and/or unemployment statistics, I think you'll appreciate this short discussion/reflexion paper by Canadian social policy experts Richard Shillington and John Stapleton. It's an overview of, and observations about, Canada's poverty measurement tools; it includes discussion (or reflexion) points for further study or group discussions. Did YOU know that there are four different ways to measure Employment Insurance coverage of the Canadian workforce? And what the heck is a B/U ratio, anyway? Click below to find out.

Cutting Through the Fog:
Why is it so hard to make sense of poverty measures?
(PDF - 186K, 22 pages)
Richard Shillington and John Stapleton
May 2010
(...) This paper is intended to open up some room for thoughtful discussion about poverty issues among interested Canadians. The goal is not to tell anyone what to think, but to encourage all of us to question.
(...) Data can be presented in many different ways, depending on the goals of the person or group providing the data. It is important to question what is being measured, how it is measured, and when it was measured.
(...) Being critical of the statistics used as “evidence” for a point of view involves finding out what assumptions underlie the numbers.
For example, you might hear that:
• the percentage of Canadians living in poverty is around 15%...or only 5%, or
• Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program covers approximately 85% of the unemployed…or only 45%.
(...) The gap between these statistics is so large because they measure different things.

Source:
Metcalf Foundation
The Foundation was established by George Cedric Metcalf in 1960. It currently makes grants totaling approximately $5.5 million each year and has an asset base of approximately $130 million. The Foundation works primarily in three areas: environment, performing arts and low-income communities. Our work is focused on supporting organizations that are working collaboratively to cultivate long-term solutions to issues, thinking broadly in pursuit of comprehensive approaches and engaging communities to take a meaningful role in decisions affecting their lives

Related links:

Open Policy - John Stapleton's website
Tristat Resources - Richard Shillington's website

See also:
* the Non-Governmental Organizations Links page: http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/ngobkmrk.htm
* the Ontario Municipal and Non-Governmental Sites (D-W) page: http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/onbkmrk3.htm

Poverty in Canada
- incl. links to : * History of poverty in Canada * Measures of poverty in Canada * Low income groups in Canada * Effects of poverty in Canada * Assistance for poor people in Canada (Government transfers and intervention - Non-governmental assistance) * more...
Source:
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Poverty absent from premiers' agenda
[CA] 4 Aug 2010

The Evolution of Poverty Measurement
- with special reference to Canada
(PDF file - 811K, 149 pages)
February 9, 2007
[Second Draft - Please check the author's website for the most recent version]
This essay discusses the evolution of the measurement of poverty over the last thirty years and its links to the evolving debates on human rights and social exclusion – with special reference to the Canadian debate
Source:
Lars Osberg
Economics Department
Dalhousie University
CV/Publications by Lars Osberg - 175+ links articles, book chapters, etc.


Solving poverty:
First it has to be defined

January 5, 2007
By Neil Reynolds
"OTTAWA -- How do poor families spend so much more money than they earn? By one measure -- the National Council of Welfare -- the average poor Canadian family spends $4,855 a year more than the $14,366 it receives as income, a difference of 33 per cent. By another measure -- the Fraser Institute -- the average poor Canadian family spends $9,370 more than the $9,114 it receives as income, a difference of more than 100 per cent. (...) The solution to this mystery will help determine the number of poor households in Canada..."
Source:
The Globe and Mail

<begin rant.>

Argh.

There's no "mystery" at all here for anyone who works with these types of statistics --- you can't just compare the numbers obtained in one study of household spending with those from another study of declared income. Methodologies vary, as do sample sizes and a number of other factors.

So why do it?
Perhaps to try and discredit an organization like the National Council of Welfare that uses these numbers to support of initiatives like its Solving Poverty report?

I generally try to stay out of the debate about the merits of absolute and relative poverty measurement. In this case, however, it wasn't the spurious juxtaposition of StatCan studies on household spending and income that moved me to comment, nor the absolutist views of Christopher Sarlo. Rather, it was a short reference in the article to the Council that simply pissed me off enough that I wanted to set the record straight. The reference in question? "The Ottawa-based National Council of Welfare is a conventional lobby organization that seeks to increase federal funding to fight poverty."

Uh-uh.
There isn't even a hint of "conventional lobby organization" here --- the Council is a citizen's advisory body whose mandate is enshrined in federal legislation since 1969.
The Council's role is not to advance the cause (read "profit margin") of the big drug companies or the car or tobacco industry - as "conventional lobby organizations" do - but rather to advise the federal government about "the needs and problems of low-income Canadians and on social and related programs and policies which affect their welfare". All Council members are private citizens drawn from across Canada and appointed by the Governor-in-Council, and they serve in their personal capacities rather than as representatives of organizations or agencies. There is no personal gain for Council members.

The above Globe and Mail article is dated January 5, 2007.
Here's an article on the same topic that appeared in the Toronto Star the next day:

Editorial: Defining poverty crucial first step
January 6, 2007
How many Canadians are really living in poverty today? How much money would it take to lift them over the poverty line? Regrettably, no one can say for certain because Canada lacks an official measure of poverty. And without such a measure, governments and advocates for the poor can only guess at how widespread poverty is, whether it is getting better or worse, and what must be done to eliminate it or even cut it in half.
Source:
The Toronto Star

<end rant.>

NOTA : La version française suit l'anglais ci-dessous.

Social Statistics, Poverty and Social Exclusion:
Perspectives from Quebec, Canada and Abroad

International conference
November 30 - December 2, 2011
Montreal
This conference aims to take stock of the state of current research on poverty reduction initiatives in Canada and elsewhere in the world.
- includes presentations on a number of themes (see Call for Papers below) as well as pre-conference workshops on the following topics:
* Potential and Limitations of Target Development Methodology
* Methodological issues of inter-regional and interprovincial comparisons and possible solutions
* Methodological issues of international comparisons and possible solutions
* Current Statistical Systems and Data Coupling

The conference program will be posted to the conference website on April 15, 2011.

Call for Papers * (PDF - 62K, 2 pages)
All researchers working in the following areas to submit a proposal:
Theme 1: Interprovincial and International Comparisons of Poverty: indicators and data sources
Theme 2: Influencing Factors and Consequences of Poverty
Theme 3: Dimensions of Social Exclusion
Theme 4: Recent Developments and future perspectives
[ more information about the four themes ]

* The deadline for proposals was March 21, 2011.
Proposals may be submitted in French or English, and presentations may be made in either language.
See the Call for Papers PDF file above for more info.

Organizing Institutions:
* Quebec Inter-University Centre for Social Statistics
* Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale

Version française:

Conférence internationale Statistiques sociales, exclusion sociale et pauvreté :
perspectives québécoises, canadiennes et internationales

30 novembre - 2 décembre 2011
Montréal
L'objectif principal de la Conférence internationale Statistiques sociales, exclusion sociale et pauvreté : perspectives québécoises, canadiennes et internationales est de faire le point sur l'état des connaissances dans le domaine de la pauvreté et de l'exclusion sociale et d'identifier les lacunes à combler à cet égard. Cette conférence offrira des présentations sur les quatre grands thèmes (Voir Appel de communications ci-dessous) ainsi qu'une série d'ateliers qui précèderont la conférence, sur les thèmes suivants:
* Méthodologie d'établissement de « cibles » nationales en matière de réduction de la pauvreté, possibilités et limites;
* Enjeux méthodologiques des comparaisons interrégionales et interprovinciales et pistes de solution;
* Enjeux méthodologiques des comparaisons internationales et pistes de solution;
* Systèmes statistiques actuels et couplage de données.

Le programme de la conférence sera disponible sur le site à compter du 15 avril 2011.

Appel de communications * (fichier PDF - 105Ko., 2 pages)
Les chercheurs menant des travaux sur les thèmes suivants sont invités à soumettre une proposition de communication :
* Comparaisons interprovinciales et internationales de pauvreté : indicateurs et sources de données
* Déterminants et conséquences de la pauvreté
* Exclusion sociale et ses principales dimensions
* Développements récents et perspectives d'avenir

* La date limite pour soumettre une proposition est le 21 mars 2011.
Les propositions peuvent être soumises en français ou en anglais, ainsi que les présentations elles-mêmes..
Suivez le lien ci-dessus pour de plus amples renseignements.


Institutions organisatrices
* Centre interuniversitaire québécois de statistiques sociales
(English Home Page)
* Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale
(English Home Page)

The New Poverty Agenda:
Reshaping Policies in the 21st Century

Conference (Kingston)
August 18-20, 2008
Excerpt from the Conference theme:
"The new poverty agenda demands new policy responses. An effective anti-poverty strategy depends on a wide range of instruments: income transfers, tax policy, asset-building strategies, early childhood interventions, education, labour market programs, housing and social services. An effective response also requires a judicious balancing of general programs and targeted initiatives for particular vulnerable groups, such as children in care, recent immigrants, single-parent families, Aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities, and displaced workers."

NOTE: Click on the above link to the conference home page for links to all 20+ presentations

Sessions:
* The New Poverty Agenda * Income Transfers and Asset Building * The Tax Regime * Early Childhood Initiatives and Education * Addressing Poverty and Other Social Policy Challenges through Social Risk Management: A New Conceptual Framework? * Employment and Training Programs * Integrated Approaches in Communities: Place-based Interventions * Roundtable on the Politics of Poverty: Can Poverty be a Priority?

Source:
Queen's School of Policy Studies

----


The federal contribution to reducing poverty in Canada:

EVIDENCE - Meeting No. 23 of the
Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
(39th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION)
April 10, 2008

Recommended reading --- this transcript is over 40 printed pages of valuable information concerning the federal contribution to reducing poverty in Canada, including an extended discussion of the relative merits of the low-income measures in use in Canada (LICOs, LIMs and MBMs ) and elsewhere in the world.

Witnesses:

Frank Fedyk (Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Research, Department of Human Resources and Social Development)
Sylvie Michaud (Director, Income Statistics Division, Statistics Canada)
Garnett Picot (Director General, Socio-Economic and Business Analysis Branch, Statistics Canada)
Sheila Regehr (Director, National Council of Welfare)
Doug Murphy (Assistant Director, Economic Security Policy, Department of Human Resources and Social Development)
Shawn Tupper (Director General, Social Policy Development, Department of Human Resources and Social Development)

Source:
House of Commons Standing Committee on
Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

[ Parliament of Canada website ]


Recent releases from the Parliamentary Research Library:
(Government of Canada)

Poverty Reduction Strategies in Quebec and in Newfoundland and Labrador
By Chantal Collin (Political and Social Affairs Division)
26 October 2007
HTML version
PDF version
(153K, 15 pages)
[ version française ]
Table of Contents:
* Introduction
Québec's Strategy to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion
* A. Framework Legislation
* B. Action Plan to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion
* C. Mobilizing the Stakeholders
* D. Agencies: Research Centre and Advisory Committee
* E. Measuring Progress
* F. Critique of Quebec’s Action Plan
Newfoundland and Labrador's Poverty Reduction Strategy
* A. Consultation Process
* B. Poverty Reduction Strategy
* C. Definition and Measurement of Poverty
* D. Action Plan
* E. Current Funding and Future Assessments

------------

Poverty Reduction in Canada - The Federal Role
By Chantal Collin (Political and Social Affairs Division)
23 October 2007
HTML version
PDF version
(118K, 12 pages)
Table of Contents:
* Who Is Poor in Canada?
* Calls for a National Anti-Poverty Strategy – What Role Could the Federal Government Play?
* A. Key Features of Poverty Reduction Strategies in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ireland and the United Kingdom
* 1. Social and Economic Links
* 2. Multi-Year Action Plans
* 3. Progress Measurement and Administrative Framework
* B. What Could Be Done?
* 1. Key Challenges
* 2. The Canada Social Transfer: A Need for Principles and Objectives to Guide Social Spending
* 3. Social Union Framework Agreement: A Possible Model?
* 4. Public Accountability and Transparency
* 5. Immediate Action at the Federal Level

Source:
Parliamentary Research Library

---

Measuring child benefits: Measuring child poverty (PDF file - 270K, 73 pages)
February 2005
By Michael Mendelson
"This report addresses two critical questions in social policy: what is child poverty and how much is an adequate child benefit? To answer these questions, the report provides an analytic basis to distinguish between poverty among families with children and that element of their poverty that is properly understood as ‘child poverty.’ It argues that child benefits should cover the incremental cost of raising a child in a family living just above poverty levels. But to estimate an adequate child benefit, we must then define ‘poverty.’ Building upon a critical review of Canadian and international research, the report describes two alternative methodologies that could be adopted to develop a well-grounded Canadian poverty line. The report provides a number of preliminary quantitative estimates of the value of an adequate child benefit according to these methodologies. This report will challenge your understanding of ‘child poverty,’ how it should be measured and the role of child benefits in addressing it."
Source:
Caledon Institute of Social Policy


Where to draw the line on child poverty

We need a measure of poverty that tells us if we’re making progress against it
By Andrew Coyne
December 8, 2009
Source:
Macleans.ca
COMMENT By Gilles:
In this article, Macleans National Editor Andrew Coyne argues in favour of doing away with the StatCan Low Income Cutoff as a measure of poverty in Canada, and he suggests that we should be using two separate poverty lines - one absolute and one relative. He mentions the Market Basket Measure and Christopher Sarlo's work as models for an absolute measure of poverty in Canada, and he notes that "our notion of what is absolute privation will change over time, in line with prevailing notions of decency. Similarly, relative definitions have an element of the absolute to them: will we still define one-half the median as 'low income' when the median is a million dollars?", he asks.

This is the classic, simplistic argument of social conservatives against a relative poverty line: "Give everyone in Canada a million dollars and we'll still have exactly the same number of poor people."
The correct answer to Mr. Coyne and to this rhetorical question is: "YES, we will still define one-half the median as 'low income' when the median is a million dollars, because at that theoretical point in time, the cost of everything will have also risen astronomically compared to today's prices. If the annual median income in Canada (rounded to $50,000 for 2009) is extrapolated to 20 times its current amount, then you must also assume that the cost of food, clothing, household and personal needs and shelter will also increase by the same factor of twenty. [Some items will increase by less than 20 and some by more.]

---

Also, Mr. Coyne notes that the Market Basket Measure "is used by provincial welfare departments to set social assistance rates..."
This is incorrect.
No Canadian province or territory uses the Market Basket Measure (MBM) to set its welfare rates. The MBM was originally designed as a benchmarking tool to help in measuring the success of the National Child Benefit initiative in the late 1990s, but no Canadian jurisdiction has ever used it to set welfare rates, to my knowledge. In fact, the notion of welfare rates being "set" is a bit of a misnomer --- in all jurisdictions, the welfare rates were "set" a long time ago, and since then it's been a political decision as to if/when the rates are increased and by how much except in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. In those two progressive provinces, the rate of annual increase is enshrined in the welfare regulations.

For links to more info about the Market Basket Measure, see:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/poverty.htm#mbm

For welfare rate information for all jurisdictions, see:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/welfare.htm


 

THE CANADIAN INDEX OF WELLBEING

Canadian Index of Wellbeing
The CIW Network is an independent, non-partisan group, based at the University of Waterloo within the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, and operates under the leadership of an advisory board of accomplished Canadians and international experts. Its mission is to report on the wellbeing of Canadians, and promote a dialogue on how to improve it through evidence-based policies that are responsive to the needs and values of Canadians.

Selected site content:

New from the
Canadian Index of Wellbeing:

New evidence reveals Canadian wellbeing on the decline (small PDF file)
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/sites/ca.canadian-index-wellbeing/files/uploads/files/CIWoct2012newsreleaseEN.pdf
TORONTO, Ont. (Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012) – The recession hit Canadians harder than economic numbers such as GDP have indicated and the decline in our wellbeing continues despite subsequent economic recovery, says the Honourable Roy Romanow, advisory board co-chair for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), housed in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo.With the release of their second composite index, the CIW reports a 24% drop in Canadian wellbeing between 2008 and 2010. Further, from 1994 to 2010, Canada’s economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by a robust 28.9%, while improvements in Canadian wellbeing over the same 17-year period saw only a small 5.7% increase.

Complete report:

How are Canadians Really Doing? The 2012 CIW Report (PDF - 4.8MB, 82 pages)
https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/sites/ca.canadian-index-wellbeing/files/uploads/files/HowareCanadiansreallydoing_CIWnationalreport2012_0.pdf
Contents:
* Executive Summary
1. Why Canada Needs the CIW
1.1 The CIW Framework and Methodology
2. Trends and Statistical Highlights
* Community Vitality
* Democratic Engagement
* Education
* Environment
* Healthy Populations
* Leisure and Culture
* Living Standards
* Time Use
3. From Research to Policy: Mobilising Knowledge for Societal Change
3.1 Ideas for Positive Change
3.2 Conclusion
4. Understanding the CIW and How to Use It
4.1 Understanding the CIW
4.2 Examples of Early Uses of the CIW
4.3 Other Ideas
5. What’s Next for the CIW?
5.1 A Final Note on Data Limitations
* Appendix A. GDP: What You Need to Know

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Index finds inequalities in Canadians' quality of life
October 20, 2011
OTTAWA — A generation of solid economic growth has meant little in the everyday lives of most Canadians, according to a new index of wellbeing.
The finding is a yellow light for decision-makers that social unrest is just around the corner unless deep changes are made, warns Roy Romanow, the advisory board chairman of the University of Waterloo group that created the index. The index suggests the middle class, in particular, is eroding. (...) The Canadian Index of Wellbeing is meant to be GDP's alter ego, measuring the quality of life in society in ways gross domestic product does not.

-----------------------------------------------------

Canada Suffering from Huge Democratic Deficit, Report Says
Press Release
January 27, 2010
OTTAWA, ON – Canada is experiencing a huge democratic deficit with trust in Canadian government and public institutions on a steep decline, says a report on Democratic Engagement released today by the Institute of Wellbeing.The report, which assesses Canadians’ democratic engagement, looks at eight quality of life indicators and finds Canadians aren’t satisfied with their democracy – which shows growing skepticism in political institutions and declining voter turnout rates.

Context:
The Canadian Index of Well-being is tracking changes in eight quality of life categories or “domains”. The Democratic Engagement report, released on January 27, is the latest release in the series. Domain reports on Living Standards, Healthy Populations and Community Vitality are now available; reports on the findings from the other domains will be released as the research is completed over the next year.

---

From The Toronto Star:

There's more to life than GDP
Canadians need a new, holistic measure of societal progress that goes beyond economics
June 10, 2009
By Roy Romanow
[ Former Saskatchewan Premier and founding chair of the Institute of Wellbeing. ]
For many years – and particularly since the onset of the global recession – Canadians and people around the world have been bombarded with news about the gross domestic product. Numbers have been issued and then updated. Predictions have been made and then revised. So powerful and predominant has GDP become, that the New York Times referred to it as "a celebrity among statistics, a giant calculator strutting about adding up every bit of paid activity..." But what is GDP? What does it tell us about how well or poorly we are doing as a society? More important, what does it leave out? And what are the consequences of this omission?
(...)
Today is the launch of the Institute of Wellbeing and the introduction of its signature project, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW). The institute is independent, non-partisan and guided by an advisory board of Canadian and international experts. (...) Today the institute released its first report, summarizing research findings in the three areas of Living Standards, Healthy Populations and Community Vitality. We noted that during so-called economic good times, Canadian workers failed to reap their share of the benefits of productivity growth, with hourly wages rising at only half of the rate of GDP. (...) The CIW will connect the dots between public policy decisions and Canadians' quality of life. It will promote a new understanding of wellbeing and a dialogue that reshapes the way we talk about wellbeing and public policy issues. It will encourage policy-makers to make evidence-based decisions that respond to the values and needs of Canadians. In that respect, it will be a true nation-building project.

Coming soon: Good-life index
Experts develop measure that looks beyond GDP to gauge quality of life and spur policy change
June 10, 2009
By Kenneth Kidd
"(...) 'GDP measures everything but the quality of life', notes Roy Romanow, chair of the Institute of Wellbeing, which is busy creating a more balanced and exhaustive method of measuring the quality of life Canadians enjoy. 'What we want to do is elevate, at a Canadian level, a measuring tool which is easily seen and understood by the public in order to put pressure, to be blunt about it, on governments,' says Romanow. The push to create an alternative gauge that includes health and social measures as well as economic ones began about a decade ago, but has gathered steam in recent years under the auspices of the Institute of Wellbeing. Dozens of academics and policy-makers, partly funded by the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, are now working on various elements of a Canadian Index of Wellbeing, or CIW. The CIW will be a composite index aggregating results from eight areas, with reports to be released today on three of them: living standards, healthy populations and community vitality.

Related links from the OECD:

Measuring the Progress of Societies Newsletter (PDF - 929K, 10 pages)
March 2008
Source:
Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development

Istanbul World Forum - Measuring and Fostering the Progress of Societies
June 27-30, Istanbul, Turkey

---

A richer way of measuring wealth:
New well-being index would complement traditional GDP
- February 19, 2007
The Canadian Index of Well-being (CIW)

Source:
The Toronto Star
.



Canadian Standard Budgets As Alternative Poverty Measures

Most American discussions about alternative poverty measures by academic poverty experts refuse to mention standard budgets (basic needs budgets, like the Self-Sufficiency Standard [ http://www.selfsufficiencystandard.org/ ] or the Economic Policy Institute’s budgets [ http://www.epi.org/resources/budget/ ] ) as alternative poverty measures.

Canadian discussions about alternative poverty measures are somewhat different. These discussions generally mention Christopher Sarlo’s stingy basic needs budgets [ http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/display.aspx?id=13212 ], and also mention the Market Basket Measure [ http://goo.gl/1axPX ]--which is also a standard budget.

However, there are a number of other standard budgets in Canada--often for just one province or city [and some focus on a target group such as the elderly]. Researchers might find it useful and educational to find all of these budgets listed in one place.

Source:
A contributor who
prefers to remain anonymous

Canadian Standard Budgets (Basic Needs Budgets)

Social Assistance

Welfare benefit levels are an absolute measure of poverty.

The now-defunct National Council of Welfare [ http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/ncw.htm ] produced detailed interprovincial/territorial comparisons of welfare rates in a series of annual reports entitled Welfare Incomes focusing on welfare benefits back to 1986 . Below, you'll find links to the latest and last of the Council's reports on welfare.

Welfare Incomes by province/territory, 2011
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/welfare_incomes_2011.htm
- estimated welfare incomes for four family types : Couple, Two Children - Lone Parent, One Child - Person with a Disability - Single Employable Person
NOTE : This link takes you to a simple table of annual welfare incomes for each jurisdiction. These are the latest figures available.

For more information on the methodology used to prepare the above welfare incomes table, see:

Welfare Incomes 2009 (PDF - 6.1MB, 117 pages)
http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/cnb-ncw/HS51-1-2009-eng.pdf
[HINT: See the footnotes to table 2 in "Appendices - Statistical Tables"]
NOTE : This is the last complete Welfare Incomes report. Updates for 2010 and 2011 not complete reports but rather updates to the numbers.

Earlier editions of Welfare incomes:
http://goo.gl/dnp4O
From Publications Canada

Rich Canadians

A Canadian Affluence Line: a poverty line for the rich
http://vicariousass.com/2012/03/16/a-canadian-affluence-line/
March 16, 2012
By John Stapleton
(...) The 99% seem to know who they are – for the most part. But what about the 1%? “There can only be one….per cent.” How to know if you’re part of it, or just a 99 percent poser? Well, the High Income Measure (HIM) is the new Poverty Line for the 1%. We have a number of poverty lines in Canada. We have the low-income cut-off (LICO) that has not been properly recalculated for 19 years. We have the Market Basket Measure (MBM) that bases itself in part on rents that are impossible to obtain. And we have the Low Income Measure (LIM) that simply sets its line at 50% of the median income. How do the top 1%? know when they have fallen out of affluence and fallen into the 99%? It is not unimportant...
-------------
By Gilles: John used an article [ http://xraymagazine.ca/34/4/ ] by Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives [ http://www.policyalternatives.ca/ ] plus a few more tools (all documented under "Methodology" in his article) to create a table showing the minimum income a household of one to six people needs, before and after tax, to be considered as part of the 1%. The table shows that a one-person household needs an annual income of $161,194 or more after tax to avoid slipping down to the lowly 99% group. There's just a hint of sardonicism from John as he laments "the fact that young 1%’er singles living on only $80,000 a year would have to save for a full 12 years to amass their first million. It’s outrageous."

Source:
VICARIOUSASS
Vass Bednar's blog

http://vicariousass.com/

Open Policy - John Stapleton's website
http://www.openpolicyontario.com/

Elderly Canadians

The Canadian Elder Standard - Pricing the Cost of Basic Needs for the Canadian Elderly (PDF - 244K, 26 pages)
http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/sedap/p/sedap286.pdf
By Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, Doug Andrews, and Robert L. Brown
In the Canadian Journal on Aging Vol. 29, No. 1, March 2010
http://goo.gl/dBj4q

Sex and Gender Dimensions of a Deprivation Index

Careful Measures: An Exploration of the Sex
and Gender Dimensions of a Deprivation Index
(PDF - 1.6MB, 115 pages)
http://www.bccewh.bc.ca/publications-resources/documents/CarefulMeasures.pdf
December 2011
Edited by M. J. Haworth-Brockman et al.
(...) In Part I [of this report], we offer some background on the concept that underlies deprivation indices as well as other concepts and models that have been developed to understand and reduce inequality in socio-economic status and health. (...)
Part II provides a brief overview of how the concept of deprivation has been translated into quantitative measures and analyses.
In Part III we explore the sex- and gender-based dimensions of each of the six indicators in the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) deprivation index, including how they relate to the underlying assumptions of deprivation. (...)
Part IV offers a description of our statistical analysis of the deprivation index, in which we replicated the INSPQ principal components analysis for women and men separately using Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census of Canada data for Vancouver, Winnipeg and Halifax Census Metropolitan Areas.

Source (Partners):

* British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women's Health
http://www.bccewh.bc.ca/

* Altantic Centre of Excellence for Women's Health
http://www.acewh.dal.ca

* Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence
http://www.pwhce.ca/

British Columbia

City of New Westminster Canada's First Living Wage Employer
Effective January 1st, 2011, the City of New Westminster became a “Living Wage Employer” – the first City in Canada to do so. As such, the City has established a Living Wage Policy that requires all firms that are contracted directly or subcontracted by the City to provide services on City premises to pay their employees who perform the services a Living Wage as calculated by the Living Wage for Families Campaign. The figure for 2011 – 2012 for the Lower Mainland is $19.14, assuming no benefits are provided by the employer.

Source:
Living Wage for Families Campaign
http://livingwageforfamilies.ca/

Living Wage Policy: Esquimalt City Council Requests Written Feedback
December 17, 2010
On December 13, 2010 Esquimalt Council, at a Committee of the Whole meeting, voted to support the full implementation of a complete Living Wage Policy and Program for the Township’s operations.

From the British Columbia Office of the
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

Living Wage for Metro Vancouver rises to $19.14
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/living-wage-metro-vancouver-rises-1914
April 26, 2012
For families with young children, the costs of basic necessities like food, rent and child care quickly add up. Even with full-time work year round, both parents in a family of four must earn at least $19.14 to escape severe financial stress in Metro Vancouver. This is the Metro Vancouver living wage rate for 2012, according to a report we released today with First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, and the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families Campaign. This is the third annual update of the original Metro Vancouver living wage calculation published in 2008.

The report:

Working for a Living Wage 2012
Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver
(PDF - 1.4MB, 8 pages)
http://goo.gl/Pm3Iu

Related materials:

* Living Wage Calculation Guide 2012 (PDF File, 861 KB)
http://goo.gl/3eflo

* Living Wage Calculation Spreadsheet - April 2012 (VND.MS-EXCEL File, 66 KB)
http://goo.gl/SMA4E

* Working for a Living Wage 2010
Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver
(PDF - 419K, 8 pages)
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/reports/docs/ccpa_bc_livingwage_2010.pdf
by Tim Richards, Marcy Cohen, Seth Klein
May 2010

* Working for a Living Wage 2008 - Original Full Report 2008 (PDF File, 2915 KB)
http://goo.gl/ILv1A

Source:
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-BC

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/bc/

A Living Wage for Families
The Living Wage for Families Campaign is guided by an Advisory Committee of representatives from community organizations and other partners and supporters in Metro Vancouver.
- incl. links to : Home - What is a Living Wage? - Get Involved - Learn More - Living Wage Employers - Living Wage Calculator - About Us

From the
Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia:

[ http://www.sparc.bc.ca/ ]

How to understand the cost of living in your community:
a guidebook on conducting affordability studies
(PDF - 428K, 61 pages)
January 2010
By Rebecca Siggner

* Still Left Behind: A Comparison of Living Costs and Income Assistance in British Columbia
February 2008
By Jill Atkey and Rebecca Siggner

* Left Behind: A Comparison of Living Costs and Employment and Assistance Rates in BC (PDF file - 593K, 36 pages)
December 2005
By Michael Goldberg and Kari Wolanski

From the
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:
[ http://www.policyalternatives.ca/ ]

Working for a Living Wage 2012:
Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/livingwage2012
April 2012
By Iglika Ivanova and Seth Klein

Working for a Living Wage 2011: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Vancouver and Victoria (2011 Update)
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/livingwage2011
March 2011
Source:
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–British Columbia Office
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/bc

Alberta

A Living Wage : How to eliminate poverty in Alberta
http://calgary.openfile.ca/calgary/text/living-wage-how-eliminate-poverty-alberta
By Joe Ceci
April 18, 2012

Source:
Open File Calgary

http://calgary.openfile.ca/

Manitoba

THE TOWN WITH NO POVERTY:
A history of the North American Guaranteed Annual Income Social Experiments
(PDF - 240K, 29 pages)
http://www.livableincome.org/rMM-EForget08.pdf
By Evelyn L. Forget
Community Health Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
University of Manitoba

Source:
Livable 4 All (Victoria BC)
http://www.livableincome.org/
Livable4All began in 2003 as a group called Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE) to advocate and provide information on the world social movement for Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) or Basic Income -- formerly known as Guaranteed Annual Income.

Related link:

A Town Without Poverty?
Canada's only experiment in guaranteed income finally gets reckoning
http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/4100
By Vivian Belik
September 5, 2011
WHITEHORSE, YK—Try to imagine a town where the government paid each of the residents a living income, regardless of who they were and what they did, and a Soviet hamlet in the early 1980s may come to mind. But this experiment happened much closer to home. For a four-year period in the '70s, the poorest families in Dauphin, Manitoba, were granted a guaranteed minimum income by the federal and provincial governments. (...) Beginning in 1974, Pierre Trudeau's Liberals and Manitoba's first elected New Democratic Party government gave money to every person and family in Dauphin who fell below the poverty line. Under the program—called “Mincome”—about 1,000 families received monthly cheques. Unlike welfare, which only certain individuals qualified for, the guaranteed minimum income project was open to everyone. It was the first—and to this day, only—time that Canada has ever experimented with such an open-door social assistance program.

Source:
The Dominion

http://www.dominionpaper.ca/

From
Winnipeg Harvest
[ http://winnipegharvest.org/ ]
and
The Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
http://www.spcw.mb.ca/

Manitoba : 2012 Acceptable Living Level (ALL) Report (small PDF file)
http://winnipegharvest.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/ALL-REPORT-media-release-February-16-2012.pdf
News Release
February 16, 2012
WINNIPEG-Low-income parents in Winnipeg -- whether they are working or on welfare -- do not have enough money to adequately feed, shelter and clothe themselves and their children. More than a dozen Winnipeg Harvest clients, acting as consultants, today released the 2012 Acceptable Living Level (ALL) for four family types. The 2012 Acceptable Living Level Report sets out how much disposable income is needed in the marketplace to buy a basket of goods and services that can sustain a fair, modest and acceptable living level.

The report demonstrates that current welfare rates, even when federal child benefits are taken into account, fall far short of meeting the 2012 Acceptable Living Level. Even two parents working fulltime at minimum wage jobs have incomes far below the 2012 Acceptable Living Level.

Complete report:

A More Inclusive and Generous Canada:
The 2012 Acceptable Living Level
(PDF - 896K, 95 pages)
http://winnipegharvest.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/2012-A.L.L.-REPORT.pdf
February 2012

Prepared by:
Winnipeg Harvest

http://winnipegharvest.org/
and
Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
http://www.spcw.mb.ca/

Two related oldie goldies:

Acceptable Living Level 2003 (PDF - 392K, 82 pages)
http://web.archive.org/web/20070214104727/http://www.spcw.mb.ca/uploaded/File/2003_all_report.pdf

Acceptable Living Level, March 2001 (PDF - 232K, 50 pages)
http://web.archive.org/web/20040406194000/http://www.spcw.mb.ca/reference/doc_all2000.pdf
Prepared by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg & Winnipeg Harvest

The View From Here: How a living wage can reduce poverty in Manitoba
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/view-here-0
November 2009
Source:
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Manitoba Office

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/manitoba

Ontario

[Ontario] What if the minimum wage was a living wage?
http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/trish-hennessy/2012/11/what-if-minimum-wage-was-living-wage
By Trish Hennessy*
November 5, 2012
Increasingly, leadership for policy change comes from outside of government, not from within. It's why many Ontarians who are focused on reducing and eliminating poverty in this province have engaged in a broadening conversation about how to end working poverty through decent jobs, a better minimum wage, and a concept that's gathering force: a living wage.
NOTE : This article contains links to 10 related articles and studies.

[ * Former journalist Trish Hennessy is director of strategic issues
at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - www.policyalternatives.ca ]

Source:
rabble.ca
http://rabble.ca/

---

Related links:

A Living Wage: Why It Matters : A toolkit of resources
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/ontario/livingwageON
What’s a living wage and why does it matter?
We’ve pulled together nine helpful resources on the subject.

Source:
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/

Minimum wage vs cost of living in 1975 and in 2007 (PDF - 251K, 1 page)
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/min_wage_vs_living.pdf
How living costs have outgrown the minimum wage
- compares how much work time it would take, working at the prevailing minimum wage in 1975 and 2007, to pay for ordinary purchases such as a loaf of bread or a dozen eggs.

Source:
The Toronto Star
http://www.thestar.com/

Ontario Deprivation Index:

Developing a Deprivation Index: The Research Process (PDF - 548K, 27 pages)
December 2, 2009
This paper tells the story of the development of the Ontario Deprivation Index by the Daily Bread Food Bank and the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. A ‘deprivation index’ is a list of items which are widely seen as necessary for a household to have a standard of living above the poverty level so that most households not in poverty are likely to have these items, but households in poverty are likely to find some of them unaffordable and so not have all those items. The index should therefore contain those items that distinguish the poor from the non-poor in the prevailing social and economic conditions.

A three-stage community-based research process was used to develop the measure, engaging those with lived experience of poverty. Statistics Canada has now refined this list and incorporated it as a supplement to their Labour Force Survey, under the sponsorship of the Government of Ontario. The result of the process was the creation of the Ontario Deprivation Index, which constitutes one part of the multi-indicator “Child and Youth Opportunity Wheel” in the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy. This is the first poverty measure to be developed through a unique partnership of a community organization, a policy think tank, government and Statistics Canada. It is also the first time a deprivation index has been developed in North America . The deprivation index is an innovative way of measuring poverty, different than all the other measures now used in Canada .

Testing the Validity of the Ontario Deprivation Index (PDF - 122K, 13 pages)
December 2, 2009
Using an empirical methodology based on a series of surveys and focus groups, Daily Bread Food Bank and the Caledon Institute of Social Policy have developed a deprivation index for Ontario . A ‘deprivation index’ is a list of items which are widely seen as necessary for a household to have a standard of living above the poverty level so that most households not in poverty are likely to have these items, but households in poverty are likely to find some of them unaffordable and so not have all those items. The index should therefore contain those items that distinguish the poor from the non-poor in the prevailing social and economic conditions.

This paper is a preliminary test of the validity of the Ontario Deprivation Index using the results of a Statistics Canada survey of 10,000 Ontario households. We look at the performance of the index against 6 variables: income, education, employment status, immigration, family type and housing tenure. A similar method for testing the validity of the new Irish deprivation index was also used, although in this paper we are presenting only the most basic tests. Based on this early analysis, the Ontario Deprivation Index fully meets the tests of validity in relation to these variables.

Source:
Daily Bread Food Bank
and
Caledon Institute of Social Policy
[NOTE: You'll also find links to both reports on the Caledon Institute website.]

Related links:

New measure for the pain of poverty
December 3, 2009
By Laurie Monsebraaten and Tanya Talaga
One in eight Ontario children live in families that can't afford fresh fruits and vegetables every day, or can't afford to replace a broken appliance or share the occasional meal with friends or family. These are a few of the 10 indicators listed in a new provincial poverty measure called the Ontario Deprivation Index, introduced Wednesday by Children's Minister Laurel Broten as part of the government's first annual report on the province's poverty reduction plan. The 10 "deprivation indicators" are not intended to be a comprehensive list. Instead, they are a sample of items and activities common to most Ontarians but out of reach for poor households, the report says.
Source:
Parent Central
[ Toronto Star ]

Where are you on the Deprivation Index?
By Laurie Monsebraaten
December 2, 2009
One in eight Ontario children is living in poverty, according to a new provincial measure released Wednesday that looks at whether families can afford items on a list of basic necessities. Families not able to afford two or more items from a list of 10 indicators on the Ontario Deprivation Index are considered as "having a poverty level standard of living," the McGuinty government says in its first annual report on Ontario's poverty reduction strategy.
Source:
Toronto Star

---

Picturing poverty: Ontario's new Material Deprivation Index

By Chandra Pasma
July 9, 2009
"(...) Canada has no official definition of poverty. There are a number of definitions and measures that are commonly but unofficially used for social policy discussions, but no formal agreement as to what we are seeking to eliminate in Canada. For this reason, provincial poverty reduction strategies have had to choose their own definition and measurement of poverty. Measuring is essential to tracking movement and providing accountability.

Ontario chose to develop a new measure, the Ontario Material Deprivation Index. Ontario’s strategy will use this measure in conjunction with two other measures: 40% of median income as a measurement of the depth of poverty, and 50% of median income to measure low income. (Although both of these are relative measures, Ontario chose to fix its target of 25% reduction of poverty in 5 years according to the 50% low income measure fixed at its 2008 level and adjusted by inflation only). The Deprivation Index fits in the context of these other two measures as a way of understanding standard of living. It is not considered to be a complete description of poverty, but a way of recognizing common symptoms of poverty. It includes multiple elements of poverty, including deprivation that leads to social isolation, issues of economic security, and the ability to make changes in your life.

The Ontario Material Deprivation Index
was developed by the Daily Bread Food Bank
in conjunction with people living in poverty.
Source:
Chandra's Blog
[ Citizens for Public Justice ]

The Index consists of a list of ten items considered as basic necessities by at least one-half of Ontarians surveyed, and households whose income is below 50% of the median income and who are missing two or more of the items on the deprivation index, they are considered to be persistently poor

October 2011
A Living Wage for Kingston (PDF - 600K, 22 pages)
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/Ontario%20Office/2011/10/Kingston%20Living%20Wage.pdf
Source:
The Kingston Community Roundtable on Poverty Reduction
NOTE : When I did a search for this group's website, the search result page popped up a malware warning.
That's why I didn't include the URL to that website on this page.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/

A Living Wage for Toronto
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/living-wage-toronto
November 2008
By Hugh Mackenzie and Jim Stanford
Source:
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Ontario Office
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/ontario

 
Québec

Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion (CEPE) - Québec
(Centre for the study of poverty and exclusion)
The Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion (CEPE) is an observation, research and discussion centre entrusted with providing reliable and rigourous information, notably of a statistical nature, on poverty and social exclusion issues. The CEPE was created in the spirit of the Act to combat poverty and social exclusion in spring 2005 under the aegis of the ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MESS).

Selected reports:

Equivalence scales: an Empirical Validation (PDF, 178 KB, 23 pages)
By Fréchet, Guy, Pierre Lanctôt, Alexandre Morin and Frédéric Savard
September 2010
In its brief to the minister entitled Taking the Measure of Poverty: Proposed Indicators of Poverty, Inequality and Social Exclusion to Measure Progress in Québec, the Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion (CEPE) formulated numerous recommendations with respect to poverty indicators, inequality and exclusion. The fourth such recommendation concerns equivalence scales, which are tools that make it possible to adjust the various low income thresholds based on household size. These scales take into account economies of scale within a household and also presuppose a more or less equivalent level of well being. The recommendation reads as follows: “The Centre recommends using Statistics Canada’s 40/30 equivalence scale to account for economies of scale” (CEPE, 2009, p. 33). (...) Our working paper offers an empirical validation that will make it possible to understand the implications of choosing one of the scales, in this case the Statistics Canada scale.

----

From after-tax income to market basket measure (MBM) disposable income (PDF, 80 KB, 8 pages)
By Guy Fréchet, Pierre Lanctôt and Alexandre Morin (2010)
September 2010
Comparisons of various low income thresholds are carried out using bases that are not entirely comparable: low income cut-offs (LICOs) and the low income measure (LIM) are based on before- or after-tax income (but before social contributions), whereas the market basket measure (MBM) is based on the cost of a market basket in a community of residence and disposable income for purposes of consumption (after taxes and social contributions). This begs the following question: How high must the average after-tax income of a given household be in order for it to have the means to acquire the basket in question, given that the cost of the basket must correspond to an equivalent income? The purpose of this working paper is to provide a detailed justification for a proposed 7% upward adjustment in the market basket measure (MBM) as a means of rendering the thresholds comparable to an after-tax income.

---

NOTE: The following report is available in French only, but an excerpt from the abstract in English is copied below.

Les déterminants macroéconomiques de la pauvreté : Une étude
de l’incidence de la pauvreté au sein des familles québécoises
sur la période 1976-2006
(PDF - 147Ko, 41 pages)
Jean-Michel Cousineau
Août 2009
École de relations industrielles
Université de Montréal
Abstract [Excerpt]:
One of the most extraordinary change that affected Canada and Québec in the recent decenny is the dramatic decrease in their poverty rates. This paper estimates the contribution of the macroeconomic determinants of poverty for economic families in Québec and Canada. Such a study may help to understand year to year changes in poverty rates as well as the respective role of markets and governments over various sub-periods of our sample (1976-1989; 1989-1996 and lastly : 1996-2006).

---

Taking the Measure of Poverty, Proposed indicators of poverty,
inequality and social exclusion to measure progress in Québec:
Advice to the Minister
(PDF - 311K, 80 pages)
Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion
2009
One of the mandates of the Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion is to propose, to the minister of Emploi et Solidarité sociale, measures and indicators of poverty, inequality and social exclusion to measure progress in Québec in the implementation of the Act to combat poverty and social exclusion. This advice is a first proposition in that direction.
[ more reports by CEPE ]

Source:
Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion
(CEPE)
(Centre for the study of poverty and exclusion)
The Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion is an observation, research and discussion centre entrusted with providing reliable and rigourous information, notably of a statistical nature, on poverty and social exclusion issues. Created within the context of the Act to combat poverty and social exclusion, the CEPE acts under the aegis of the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MESS) and is managed in collaboration with a steering committee composed of members working in the academic research or government sector, or working with people who are experiencing poverty or social exclusion.
- incl. links to:
* Introduction to the CEPE * Statistics * Research activities * Publications * Lexicon * Useful links

From the Montreal Diet Dispensary (MDD):
[ http://www.ddm-mdd.org/home ]
Since the late 1950s, the MDD proceeds to a yearly update of the cost of a minimum basket of goods and services to maintain health. In its publication "Budgeting for Basic Needs and Budgeting for Minimum Adequate Standard of Living", the MDD lists:
* eight "basic" needs: shelter, water tax, food, clothing, personal care, household supplies, utilities, and heating;
* ten additional needs to ensure a "minimum adequate standard of living": telephone, transportation, personal allowances, newspaper, minor repairs, entertainment, leisure, religion, replacement of small items, and school supplies.
More information about this publication:
http://www.ddm-mdd.org/minimum-cost/basic-needs

Cost of the Nutritious Food Basket – May 2012 (PDF - 36K, 2 pages)
http://www.ddm-mdd.org/files/pdf/eng/12-05_Cout_PPN_ang.pdf
The following table gives the minimum cost of an adequate diet based on individual market order prepared by the Montreal Diet Dispensary, plus 5% to account for inevitable food loss. This market order meets the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI 2004). These recommendations assume characteristic activity patterns for each age and sex group.
Source:
MDD Publications

http://www.ddm-mdd.org/publication
The MDD Publications page lists all reports available in French and English, by regular mail and online.

New Brunswick

Impact of Food Cost on Food Security in New Brunswick:
Survey conducted by the Common Front for Social Justice during the summer of 2010
(PDF - 2.4MB, 27 pages)
November 2010
Conclusions:
* Food cost has dramatically increased.
* There were no major differences in food cost between cities and the few rural areas surveyed.
* Cost of the 66 items in the food basket: $254 at Coop Stores, $257 at Superstores and $259 at Sobeys
* Seniors with guaranteed income supplement: 15% of income goes toward food (10.4% is the Canadian average.)
* Minimum wage worker: 17% of income for food
* People on social assistance: 35 - 50% of income for food
Source:
New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador
Market Basket Measure (NLMBM)

First Progress Report on the NL Poverty Reduction Strategy (PDF - 4MB, 76 pages, December 2009)
(...)
In the 2006 Action Plan:
[ Reducing Poverty: An Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador (PDF file - 1.6MB, 60 pages) ]
... a commitment was made to improve capacity to measure and track progress. A major innovation has been the development of the Newfoundland and Labrador Market Basket Measure (NLMBM). This new measure uses a similar approach to the federal government's Market Basket Measure (MBM) [ more about the MBM further down on this page ]. Like the MBM, it compares the incomes of families to the cost of a basket of goods and services necessary to live a productive and socially inclusive life. Unlike the MBM and all other available measures of low-income that use surveys to estimate lowincome levels, the NLMBM uses tax-filer data and other sources to provide more accurate income and expense information for all tax-filers. This allows for the reporting of low-income levels in communities and neighbourhoods, as well as results for other subgroups such as different age groups or family types.
[Excerpt from the progress report, p.30]

For more info on the NLMBM, see Appendix II of the above progress report.

The NLMBM is available on Community Accounts [ www.communityaccounts.ca]

---

From Eastern Health:

Health Status Report 2012 : Poverty
(...) The Newfoundland and Labrador Market Basket Measure (NLMBM) is an indicator that has been developed for use in Newfoundland and Labrador. Using this indicator, families and individuals are below the low income threshold when available income (i.e. disposable income) is less than the cost of the market basket in their community. The Newfoundland and Labrador Market Basket includes food, clothing and footwear, shelter, transportation, and other goods and services.
Source:
Regional Health Status Report 2012
[ Eastern Health ]
Eastern Health is the largest integrated health organization in Newfoundland and Labrador. We provide the full continuum of health services to a regional population of 290,000 and are responsible for a number of unique provincial programs.

---

Related link:

Newfoundland and Labrador
Poverty Reduction Strategy

Related links:
Go to the Anti-poverty Strategies and Campaigns page:
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/antipoverty.htm


Index of Economic Well-being
Has economic well-being increased or decreased in recent years, and is it higher or lower in one country compared to others? Traditionally these questions have been answered by looking at trends in and comparisons of GDP per capita, but this is a poor measure of economic well-being. It measures consumption incompletely, ignoring the value of leisure and longer life spans, and it also ignores the value of accumulation for future generations. Furthermore, since it is an average, GDP per capita gives no indication of the likelihood that an individual will share in prosperity nor of the degree of anxiety with which individuals contemplate their futures."
- incl. links to:
Introduction and Methodology - The Index for Canada -The Index for Canada and the United States - The Index for Canada and the Provinces - The Index for OECD Countries - An Index of Labour Market Well-being - Weighting tool for Canada and OECD Countries
Source:
Centre for the Study of Living Standards (Ottawa)



The Social Determinants Of Health
The Public Health Agency of Canada has launched a new web site related to Canada’s work in the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. It provides information on the Canadian reference group, on the work of the Agency with governments of other countries to develop policy frameworks to address the determinants of health inequalities, and links to WHO knowledge networks and other resources.
Source of this info:
Wellesley Institute Blog

Social Determinants of Health:
The Canadian Facts
(PDF - 3.7MB, 63 pages)
April 2010
By Juha Mikkonen and Dennis Raphael
(...)Improving the health of Canadians requires we think about health and its determinants in a more sophisticated manner than has been the case to date.
Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts considers 14 social determinants of health:
1. Income and Income Distribution
2. Education
3. Unemployment and Job Security
4. Employment and Working Conditions
5. Early Childhood Development
6. Food Insecurity
7. Housing
8. Social Exclusion
9. Social Safety Network
10. Health Services
11. Aboriginal Status
12. Gender
13. Race
14. Disability
The publication outlines why they are important; how Canada is doing in addressing them; and what can be done to improve their quality. The purpose of the document is to provide promote greater awareness of the social determinants of health and the development and implementation of public policies that improve their quality.

Source:
York University School of Health Policy & Management (Toronto)

Resources/Related Sites

The Social Determinants of Health: An Overview of the Implications for Policy and the Role of the Health Sector
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ph-sp/resources-ressources/subject_determinants-eng.php
* overview paper
* income inequality
* social inclusion and exclusion
* employment and job security
* working conditions
* contribution of the social economy
* early childhood education and care
* food security
* housing
* education

Source:
Public Health Agency of Canada




Happiness Economics : We Love to See You Smile
- April 10, 2007
American surveys over the past few decades seem to show that a personal sense of happpiness doesn't necessarily go along with a high Gross National Product. According to the author, many economists feel that it makes more sense to shift priorities to boosting other (non-GNP) forms of well-being, like happiness itself. Indeed, why not measure Gross National Happiness (GNH) in place of GNP?

The Economics of Happiness (PDF file - 104K, 13 pages)
2005
- from the Brookings Institution

A Plateau of Happiness
("A country's wealth may not always indicate the happiness of its people")
Source:
New York Times

The Second International Conference on Gross National Happiness
June 20 to June 24, 2005

Gross National Happiness:
A New Measure of Well-Being From a Happy Little Kingdom

October 4, 2005
"What is happiness? In the United States and in many other industrialized countries, it is often equated with money. Economists measure consumer confidence on the assumption that the resulting figure says something about progress and public welfare. The gross domestic product, or G.D.P., is routinely used as shorthand for the well-being of a nation. But the small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has been trying out a different idea. In 1972, concerned about the problems afflicting other developing countries that focused only on economic growth, Bhutan's newly crowned leader, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, decided to make his nation's priority not its G.D.P. but its G.N.H., or gross national happiness..."

Center for Bhutanese Studies

World Values Survey
The World Values Survey is organised as a network of social scientists coordinated by a central body, the World Values Survey Association. (...) The World Values Survey Association is founded in order to help social scientists and policy makers better understand worldviews and changes that are taking place in the beliefs, values and motivations of people throughout the world.

World Values Survey - from Wikipedia

Genuine Progress Index for Atlantic Canada
Since the Second World War, economic growth statistics based on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have been widely used as a proxy for societal wellbeing and prosperity. This was not the intention of those who created the GDP. (...) GDP-based measures were never meant to be used as a measure of progress, as they are today. In fact, activities that degrade our quality of life, like crime, pollution, and addictive gambling, all make the economy grow. The more fish we sell and the more trees we cut down, the more the economy grows. Working longer hours makes the economy grow. And the economy can grow even if inequality and poverty increase.

The Happy Planet Index attempts to calculate life satisfaction and expectancy in relation to environmental impact. By this index, Vanuatu is #1, Columbia is #2, and Bhutan is #13, leaving the United States, at #150, in the dust.
Source:
New Economics Foundation (U.K.)

Guidelines for National Indicators of Subjective Well-Being and Ill-Being (PDF file - 25K, 7 pages)
November 2005
- promoted by leading happiness researcher Ed Diener and a group of 50 prominent psychologists, sociologists, and economists.

World Database of Happiness
- covers the following themes:
* Consumption * Cultural climate * Crime * Demography * Education * Freedom * Geography * Happiness * Health * Inequality * Institutional quality * Law and order * Lifestyle * Modernity * Personality * Politics * Risks * Social climate * Values * War * Wealth
Source:
Erasmus University (Rotterdam)


Genuine Progress Index Links:

Centre for the Study of Living Standards (Ottawa)
Genuine Progress Index Pacific (Vancouver)
Atkinson Foundation (Toronto)
Genuine Progress Indicator Alberta ( from the Pembina Institute)
Genuine Progress Index Atlantic (Nova Scotia)

Links to other similar organizations (from GPI Atlantic)- 28 in all



Income/poverty data from Statistics Canada
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/start-debut-eng.html

Statistics Canada is the country's national government statistical agency.
Statistics Canada's Low income cut-offs (LICOs) are considered by most as the bible of relative poverty measures in Canada - although the agency itself does not endorse the use of its LICOs as a proxy for poverty. A disclaimer to that effect can be found in all Statistics Canada LICO reports.

---

June 18, 2012
Low Income Lines, 2010-2011
HTML version:
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2012002-eng.htm
PDF version (436K, 38 pages):
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2012002-eng.pdf
NOTE : Includes detailed information on each of the three measures listed below.
In order to provide a holographic or complete picture of low income, Statistics Canada implements an approach that uses three complementary low income lines: the Low Income Cut-offs (LICOs), the Low Income Measures (LIMs) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). While the first two lines were developed by Statistics Canada, the MBM is based on concepts developed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Though these measures differ from one another, they give a generally consistent picture of low income status over time. None of these measures is the best. Each contributes its own perspective and its own strengths to the study of low income, so that cumulatively, the three provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of low income as a whole. These measures are not measures of poverty, but strictly measures of low income. (bolding added for emphasis - see below)
---
Click the links in the left sidebar of the
HTML version to access the following sections:

* Introduction
* Historical Revision of 2006 to 2009
* Low Income Cut-offs
* Low income measures
* Market Basket Measure (2008 base)
* Low income rate and low income gap ratio
* Tables and figure
* Annex
* Annual consumer price index
* References
* More information

---

StatCan is religiously sticking to its script that "these measures are not measures of poverty, but strictly measures of low income."
In fact the agency has been consistently repeating that disclaimer since Ivan Fellegi, a former Chief Statistician of Canada, posted the following edict on his agency's website in 1997:

"On poverty and low income" - by Ivan Fellegi (1997)
- explains why his agency's low income cut-offs should not be used as the "official" poverty line for Canada.

In the absence of a universally accepted poverty line, non-governmental groups have opted to consider LICOs as a proxy for poverty.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

March 7, 2012
Low Income in Canada - A Multi-line and Multi-index Perspective
By Brian Murphy, Xuelin Zhang and Claude Dionne
March 2012

HTML version (links are in the left margin)
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2012001-eng.htm

PDF version (1.7MB, 111 pages)
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2012001-eng.pdf

Table of contents:
* Main page
* Summary
* Introduction
* Low-income trends in Canada
* Low income across groups of people
* Low income across provinces and cities
* The dynamics of low income in Canada
* Appendix
* References and bibliography
* Tables and figures
* More information

This study examines low income in Canada over a 34-year period from 1976 to 2009 with a multi-line, multi-index approach using data from the Survey of Consumer Finance (1976 to 1995) and Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (1996 to 2009). Three different low income lines are used: the Low Income Cut-offs (LICOs); the Low Income Measure (LIM) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). In addition, three indexes are used to measure the incidence, depth and severity of low income in the study.

We first examine the evolution of low-income at the national level. This is followed by an investigation of the low income experiences of children, seniors, lone-parents, unattached non-elderly individuals, recent immigrants, off-reserve aboriginals and persons with activity limitations. Next, we compare low incomes across the ten provinces as well as seven Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA). Finally, we study low income mobility in Canada during the 1993-to-2009 period.

Related link:

"On poverty and low income" - by Ivan Fellegi (1997)
The Chief Statistician of Canada explains why his agency's low income cut-offs should not be used as the "official" poverty line for Canada.

Related link
from the Globe and Mail:

The changing face of poverty in Canada
http://goo.gl/XXM5a
By Tavia Grant
March 21, 2012

Who are the poor in Canada?
For a country that’s pretty good at tracking economic trends, collective knowledge about incomes and mobility is scant. Canada no longer publishes timely national stats on welfare rates, and provincial tracking of social assistance rates varies considerably. Unlike the U.S., Canada doesn’t publish data on the number of people whose jobless benefits expire without finding work. And the most recent information on the income levels of Canadians dates to 2009 -- three years ago.

A study*(see above the yellow text box) released this month sheds some light on longer-term trends. The paper, by Brian Murphy, Xuelin Zhang and Claude Dionne of Statistics Canada’s income statistics division, examines 34 years of low-income levels in Canada. It looks at what different measures of poverty show, and how trends changed between 1976 and 2009.

[ 88 comments: http://goo.gl/0CLHN ]

Source:
Globe and Mail

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

---

See also:

Welfare Dependency in Canada - National Statistics
http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/welfare_dependency.htm
April 2011
[NOTE : The welfare dependency links page is likely of no particular interest to anyone except for white-haired profs and social researchers wondering WTF is happening with Canadian welfare statistics. If you're not in one of these two categories, move along - there's nothing for you here.]

---------------------------------------------------------------------

June 17, 2010
Income of Canadians, 2008
This report contains analysis, charts and time series at the Canada, province and some census metropolitan area level. To provide a more complete picture of low income, the report includes analysis using three complementary low income lines: the low income cut-offs, the low income measures and the market basket measure (MBM). The first two were developed by Statistics Canada; the MBM is based on concepts developed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
- includes three tables:
----- Selected income concepts by main family types, 2007 and 2008
----- Selected income concepts for economic families of two persons or more by province, 2008 ith two persons or more.
----- Percentage of persons in low income (1992 base after-tax income low income cut-offs)

"Median after-tax income for families with two or more people, adjusted for inflation, was $63,900 in 2008, virtually unchanged from 2007. This followed four years of growth. For unattached individuals, after-tax income also remained unchanged, at $24,900. This was the first time in three years in which no significant change was observed." (Excerpt)

Related subjects
* Income, pensions, spending and wealth
* Household, family and personal income
* Low income and inequality

-----------

June 7, 2010
Revising Statistics Canada's Low Income Measure (LIM)
June 2010
Statistics Canada introduced its Low Income Measure (LIM) in 1991 as a complement to its Low Income Cut-Offs (LICOs). The Low Income Measure (LIM) is a dollar threshold that delineates low-income in relation to the median income and different versions of this measure are in wide use internationally. Over the intervening 25 years there have been a number of useful methodological and conceptual developments in the area of low income measurement. To make the Canadian LIM methodology consistent with international norms and practices, a revision of the Statistics Canada LIM methodology appears desirable.

Table of contents:
* Introduction
* The LIM and proposed modifications
* What happens to low-income statistics with all three modifications?
* Summary
* Tables and figures
* References
* Appendix A: Glossary
* More information
* PDF version (806K, 31 pages)

Source:
Income Research Paper Series
[ Statistics Canada ]

Low income Measurement in Canada:
What do different Lines and Indexes tell us?

May 2010
By Xuelin Zhan
Income Statistics Division
Abstract and Summary HTML)
Complete research paper (PDF - 1.2MB, 44 pages)
While Canada has never had an official poverty line, there are a number of low income lines widely employed to inform public debates and program initiatives. (...) This study assesses the existing Low Income Cut-Offs (LICO), Low Income Measures (LIM), and Market Basket Measure (MBM) lines, together with a fixed LIM, by using several distribution sensitive indexes. We found that the low income lines tracked each other well in the long-run. But, in the short-run, they often behaved differently.

Table of contents:
* Introduction
* A comparison of LICO, LIMs and MBM
* Low income indexes under alternative lines
* Who fall between the lines?
* Who contributes more to overall low income? A decomposition analysis
* Summary and conclusions
* Tables and figures
* Appendix 1 Methodology
* References
* More information





Are Statistics Canada's Low-Income Cutoffs
an absolute or relative poverty measure??

How to reduce the poverty rate down from 64% to 5% without spending a penny.
June 20, 2008
By Andrew Mitchell and Richard Shillington

The recent release of estimates of the Low Income Cut-offs and the Low Income Measures has raised a number of crucial issues about the measurement of poverty or "low income" in Canada. LICOs haven't been "re-based" to reflect the rise in Canadian living standards since 1992, leaving the authors wondering whether StatCan is discreetly allowing LICOs to slip into irrelevance and obsolescence as a measure of poverty.
An excerpt:
"Since Statistics Canada no long re-bases the LICOs then we should refer to them as an absolute measure of poverty which does not change, at least not automatically, and not recently with general living standards. Past experience would suggest that re-basing the LICO would increase the income thresholds and increase the number of families below that threshold. We have no way of knowing how much of the trend of falling poverty rates over the last 15 years is due simply to the fact that the LICOs have not been rebased."
Source:
Richard Shillington is an Ottawa based social policy consultant.
Andrew Mitchell is the Senior Research Consultant with the Social Assistance in the New Economy Project at the University of Toronto and independent consultant

Fraser Institute
"Competitive Market Solutions for Public Policy Problems"


Disclaimer:

The Fraser Institute represents the interests of Canada's business elite, and its views on social issues fit squarely within the ideological framework of the conservative corporate agenda.
I disagree with most of those views.

Gilles



The Bible of Absolute poverty measurement in Canada, by Chris Sarlo

From the The Fraser Institute :

NOTE : The links below are organized in chronological order, with the original 1992 Sarlo report on poverty in Canada appearing at the top and the most recent updates at the bottom of the list in this box.

---

Poverty in Canada (PDF - 6.3MB, 259 pages)
By Christopher A. Sarlo
1992
"This book is a provocative challenge to current approaches to defining and measuring poverty. It argues that prevailing estimates greatly exaggerate the number of poor; that Statistics Canada's low-income cut-off, the standard tool used in virtually all studies measuring poverty, is badly flawed and that social assistance, in almost all cases, is perfectly adequate in covering all basic needs."

---

Poverty in Canada - 2nd Edition, 1996 (PDF - 993K, 300 pages)
January 1996
By Christopher A. Sarlo
"An important message in the book is worthy of emphasis. Our compassion should not be measured by how high we set the poverty line.
High relative measures simply end up exaggerating the extent of poverty and trivialize the predicament of those enduring real deprivation. This also risks undermining the genuine sense of compassion that is characteristic of Canadians."

---

Measuring Poverty in Canada
July 2001
By Christopher Sarlo
Excerpt:
"In Canada, there is a vast array of inefficient and employment-reducing programs and policies with overlapping function and jurisdiction: welfare and minimum wage are two examples. A more efficient alternative might be a guaranteed annual income issued as a universal demogrant--a transfer payment to all citizens (or residents) with no conditions on employment, earning, or income. "

For more details concerning the Sarlo guaranteed annual income proposal,
see p. 55-56 in Part II of the report (the second link below).

Complete report
in three PDF files:

Report Part I (PDF file - 236K, 10 pages) - cover, table of contents, executive summary
Report Part II (PDF file - 982K, 50 pages) - main chapters of the report
Report Part III (PDF file - 284K, 22 pages) - appendices

---

Poverty in Canada: 2006 Update (PDF file - 605K, 7 pages)
By Christopher Sarlo
"This Fraser Alert uses the most recent data available (2004) to update the basic needs poverty lines and estimates poverty in Canada."

----------


Comment:

On the issue of poverty measurement, the Fraser Institute has consistently promoted the use of an absolute approach vs a relative approach - see below for links to more info on both measures, including earlier work by Christopher Sarlo proposing an absolute poverty line for Canada. I went through a period of about a year during which I'd dutifully visit the Fraser Institute's website on a regular basis to add links to their stuff on poverty measurement to my Poverty Measures page. I've since shifted gears, and I don't often include links to this type of information on my site nor in my newsletter.

My decision to focus more on the counterpoint arguments (in favour of a relative approach to measuring poverty) is based on my personal view that Fraser is merely trotting out articles supporting absolute poverty (most of which are written by Chris Sarlo) on a regular basis to keep reinforcing their view. If they say it often enough, they figure people will eventually accept it as the truth.

In my view, absolute poverty measures may be an appropriate benchmark for Third World countries, but Canada and other industrialized nations should be more concerned about measuring social inclusion and income inequality (i.e., relative measures) than the contents and generosity of a market basket of goods (absolute measures).

Gilles


Are Welfare Rates Too Low? [this link is broken]
[See p. 26]
The amount that society gives to the poor in the form of last-resort
social assistance programs is fundamentally a political choice.
by Chris Sarlo
Source:
Fraser Forum - July 2004
[ Fraser Institute ]
Every so often I visit the Fraser Institute's website to see the latest bumph from the fiscal and social conservative faction of Canadian society. When I perused the table of contents of the Institute's latest issue of the Fraser Forum (the "source" link above), I found this article by Chris Sarlo, poster boy for the Fraser Institute's ongoing campaign for the wider use of absolute poverty measures in Canada (vs. the StatCan Low Income Cutoffs).

The premise of this article is that in Canada, "aside from the single employable category, recipients’ income is reasonably close to the poverty line in most cases."
My reaction: perhaps true, but only if you're using the calorie-from-starvation budget numbers of the Fraser Institute...

The National Council of Welfare's 2002 edition of Welfare Incomes is the source of some of the figures in the table that's part of the Fraser Institute article.
The source of the figures in the table is cited as "National Council of Welfare, 2002; and calculations by the author."

In fact, only the first column in the Sarlo article is from the Council, and it's from Welfare Incomes 2002.
[ To find the estimated income figures used in the Fraser article, use the search engine on the National Council of Welfare's new website (launched in the summer of 2010) to find the 2002 Welfare Incomes report. ]

When I compared the figures from both sources, I realized that the Fraser article had substituted its own "Basic Poverty Needs Line" for the Council's use of the StatCan Low Income Cutoff.

Mr. Sarlo and the Fraser Institute have the right to use their absolute income levels instead of the Low Income Cutoffs - their levels do, after all, show that everyone on welfare is near the poverty line except employable singles (thus reinforcing their view).

What I find objectionable is Sarlo's use of the absolute numbers without documenting this more precisely in the source of his table. In the entire text that accompanies the table, there is no definition of "Basic Poverty Needs Line" - in fact, the author prefers to use the short form "poverty line", as if repeating it often enough will lull people into equating the numbers in his article with the other poverty line we keep hearing about, LICO. I suspect that some people who read the Fraser article will be wondering why we need to raise welfare rates when all clients except singles are already receiving welfare rates that appear to be close to or even higher than the poverty line.
It's because Fraser switched the numbers.

They're not using the same poverty line.
And they didn't tell us.
Shame.

‘Growing gap’ between rich and poor overstated;
evidence points to improvements in living standards for poorest Canadians

News Release
May 28, 2009
VANCOUVER, BC—The “gap” between the economic well-being of rich and poor Canadians may not be growing, says a new, peer-reviewed report from independent research organization the Fraser Institute. Past attempts to measure economic inequality using only reported incomes have ignored other factors that contribute to the real standard of living, Professor Chris Sarlo writes in the report The Economic Well-Being of Canadians: Is there a Growing Gap? “There is a commonly held notion that the rich are always getting richer and the poor poorer,” said Sarlo, an associate professor of economics at Nipissing University and Fraser Institute senior fellow. “However, most reports of a ‘growing gap’ in economic well-being between the rich and poor are based exclusively on reported incomes, ignoring other factors that help define one’s standard of living.”

The Economic Well-Being of Canadians: Is there a Growing Gap?
May 2009
by Chris Sarlo
Complete report (PDF - 842K, 58 pages)
Executive summary (HTML)
"(...)This paper has two purposes. First and principally it is a critical examination of the evidence for a “growing gap” in Canada. The paper will attempt to look at inequality in a somewhat broader context than is customary. Evidence drawn largely from household-spending data files as well as from household facility-ownership data and household net-worth data can shed additional light on the trend in inequality for Canada. Second, the paper will examine the issue of data reliability in the context of the measurement of inequality."

Source:
Fraser Institute "A free and prosperous world through choice, markets and responsibility"

--------

What is Poverty? Providing Clarity for Canada
By Chris Sarlo
May 7, 2008
Efforts to accurately measure and define poverty in Canada have been hindered by inconsistent and poor quality data, resulting in a confusing picture that is often further distorted by politicians and activists, according to a new study, What is Poverty? Providing Clarity for Canada, written by noted poverty researcher and Fraser Institute senior fellow Professor Chris Sarlo of Nipissing University.
Executive Summary
Complete report
(PDF - 1.2MB, 24 pages)
Source:
The Fraser Institute

Counterpoint from
The Wellesley Institute:

Fraser Institute defines poverty out of existence...
May 8, 2008
By Michael Shapcott
There are two ways to reduce poverty: The best way is to get money into the hands of low-income people and adopt other practical and effective measures, such as affordable housing, education and training and so on. The other way is to define poverty out of existence by statistical sleight of hand: Tell the poor, and everyone else, that the poor aren’t really poor, and hope that they just go away. (...) Defining poverty rates so low that virtually no one in Canada could be called poor may make good ideological fodder, but in the real world that most people inhabit, Sarlo’s dollars just don’t make any sense.

-----------------

The Relativity of LICO (PDF file - 82K, 2 pages)
by Chris Sarlo
"A relative line, such as LICO, may be useful as a marker of what income is required to keep from falling behind the mainstream, but is not useful at all as a measure of what income people need to avoid being 'straitened.'"
Source:
November 2003 Fraser Forum
[ Fraser Institute ]

Poverty and the Federal Government (PDF file - 115K, 2 pages)
November 2002
by Chris Sarlo
"My own measure [of poverty] is one of so called “absolute poverty” and attempts to reveal serious material deprivation (hunger, inadequate housing, deprived living conditions)—not a lack of social comforts."
Source:
November 2002 Fraser Forum - Taming Media Myth


The Adequacy of Welfare Benefits in Canada
by Joel Emes and Andrei Kreptul

April 1999

- Compares welfare benefits in 1998 by province with Christopher Sarlo's Basic Needs Lines. Includes information on earnings exemptions and special assistance, plus Pre-Tax Wage Equivalence charts explaining how much a working person would have to earn to end up with the same annual "net income" as an income assistance (IA) recipient.
Executive Summary
Complete Report
(PDF file - 427K, 30 pages)

Fraser Institute proposes an alternative to the United Nations' Human Development Index
Media Release

24 October 2001

Canada ranks sixteenth on the Fraser Institute's Measuring Development: An Index of Human Progress, released today. This new publication provides a more complete view of the recent history and current state of development throughout the world than does the United Nations' often-quoted Human Development Index. The Fraser Institute's Index of Human Progress ranks the United States first, Switzerland second, Luxembourg third, Denmark fourth, and Japan fifth. Canada ranked sixteenth in 1999 out of 128 countries.
- Measuring Development: An Index of Human Progress (PDF file - 521K, 63 pages)

Related Link:

Human Development Reports - from the U.N.

Canadian Income Tax Statistics
and GST/HST Statistics



Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
(formerly Revenue Canada)

Income [Tax] Statistics and GST/HST Statistics

Final Statistics - Sample Data
Detailed profiles of Canadian taxfilers based on a stratified random sample of individual tax returns.

Interim Statistics - Universe Data
Preliminary statistics based on the universe of all returns filed and processed during a given tax year.

Locality code statistics
Tax data based on geographic area.

Compendium of GST/HST Statistics
Detailed profiles of goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) registrants.

T2 Corporate Statistics
Key taxation and select accounting information for all corporation tax returns that have been assessed or re-assessed.

Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) - Canada
"The Centre for the Study of Living Standards is a non-profit, national, independent organization that seeks to contribute to a better understanding of trends in and determinants of productivity, living standards and economic and social well-being through research."

Selected site content:

Recent Release from the
Centre for the Study of Living Standards:

Does Money Matter? Determining the
Happiness of Canadians
(PDF - 1.5MB, 138 pages)
November 2010
On November 23, 2010 the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released this major study on factors influencing the happiness or life satisfaction of Canadians. The report, based on data for 70,000 Canadians from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey and prepared in partnership with the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity (ICP), provides a comprehensive analysis of the happiness landscape in Canada, quantifies the many variables that determine happiness, and explains the variation in happiness across provinces, CMAs and health regions. The report provides strong support for the 2009 Stiglitz report commissioned by French President Nicholas Sarkozy that recommended greater emphasis be placed on happiness relative to GDP in the development of public policy.
* Press release (small PDF file)
* Executive Summary (small PDF file)

Related link:

Conference on Happiness
On December 1, 2010, CSLS and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity are hosting a conference on happiness in Ottawa, Canada at the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa. This conference will take stock of our existing research on happiness and consider whether governments should have happiness as an objective for public policy and, if so, what policies they should adopt.
* Conference program (small PDF file)
* Registration information - incl. link to online registration + list of speakers

Source:
Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS)
The two main objectives of CSLS are to contribute to a better understanding of trends in living standards and factors determining trends through research and to contribute to public debate on living standards by developing and advocating specific policies through expert consensus.

----------

Index of Economic Well-being
Has economic well-being increased or decreased in recent years, and is it higher or lower in one country compared to others? Traditionally these questions have been answered by looking at trends in and comparisons of GDP per capita, but this is a poor measure of economic well-being. It measures consumption incompletely, ignoring the value of leisure and longer life spans, and it also ignores the value of accumulation for future generations. Furthermore, since it is an average, GDP per capita gives no indication of the likelihood that an individual will share in prosperity nor of the degree of anxiety with which individuals contemplate their futures."
- incl. links to:
Introduction and Methodology - The Index for Canada -The Index for Canada and the United States - The Index for Canada and the Provinces - The Index for OECD Countries - An Index of Labour Market Well-being - Weighting tool for Canada and OECD Countries.

---

New Estimates of Index of Economic Well-being for Canada and OECD Countries
December 3, 2009
On December 3, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) released updated estimates of the Index of Economic Well-being and its four domains (consumption flows, stocks of wealth, economic equality and economic security) for Canada and the provinces and for selected OECD countries. Both in Canada and across the OECD, economic well-being has increased over the past quarter century as a result of growing per-capita consumption and wealth. However, rising economic inequality and insecurity have dampened the growth of overall economic well-being. The Index of Economic Well-being is consistent with most of the recommendations of the recently released Commission for the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (the Stiglitz report) on what aspects of economic reality an index of economic well-being should capture.

The CSLS also released a third report addressing the measurement of economic security in the Index of Economic Well-being.

Measuring Economic Security in Insecure Times:
New Perspectives, New Events, and the Index of Economic Well-being
(PDF - 870K)
December 2009

New Estimates of the Index of Economic Well-being
for Selected OECD Countries, 1980-2007
(PDF - 3.5MB)
(December 2009
Appendix Tables (PDF - 1.5MB)
Press release - December 3, 2009

New Estimates of the Index of Economic Well-being
for Canada and the Provinces, 1981-2008
(PDF - 3.2MB)
December 2009
Appendix Tables (PDF - 1.5MB)
Press release
- December

Related link:

More information
about the Index of Economic Well-being
(from CSLS)

Source:
CSLS Research Reports <=== links to dozens of reports back to 1997
[ Centre for the Study of Living Standards ]
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) was established in August 1995 to undertake research in the area of living standards. The two main objectives of CSLS are to contribute to a better understanding of trends in living standards and factors determining trends through research and to contribute to public debate on living standards by developing and advocating specific policies through expert consensus.

Brief to the Senate on Urban Child Poverty (2008) (PDF - 187K, 14 pages)
In February 2008, First Call Chair Michael Goldberg presented to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on the topic of urban child poverty. This briefing is an overview of topics including measuring poverty; child poverty rates; and the interaction between market income, social security benefits, taxation and statutory deductions, and income tested social programs.
Source:
First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
First Call is a coalition of individuals and organizations whose purpose is to create greater understanding of and advocacy for legislation, policy, and practice to ensure that all children and youth have the opportunities and resources required to achieve their full potential and to participate in the challenges of creating a better society.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

January 2008
Indicators of Well-being in Canada
This HRSDC website presents comprehensive, up-to-date information on the well-being of Canadians and Canadian society, and how that may be changing over time.
- incl. links to info about : Work | Learning | Financial Security | Family Life | Housing | Social Participation | Leisure | Health | Security | Environment

"(...) How many Canadians have a paying job? What levels of education do we have, and how does that compare with other countries? What proportion of marriages end in divorce? How long can we expect to live? Have there been any big changes over the last 20 years or so? This website helps to answer such questions. Developed by Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), its purpose is to systematically present measures and report on various aspects of well-being that are important to Canadians."

----------------------------------------------------

Poverty and Child Well-Being in Canada and the United States:
Does it Matter How We Measure Poverty?
Final Report
September 2000
Complete paper (PDF) (727K, 37 pages)

"In this paper we examine the robustness of conclusions about the association between poverty and children’s well-being to alternative choices about how we measure poverty. In particular, we focus upon the influence of data set chosen, sample selected and poverty line used"

Market Basket Measure (MBM)

In 1997, Canada's ministers responsible for social services mandated the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Social Development Research and Information to develop a new measure of low income in Canada to complement existing measures. The Applied Research Branch of Human Resources Development Canada developed the MBM in consultation with provincial and territorial governments.

Key MBM Documents from
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada:

First Comprehensive Review of the
Market Basket Measure of Low Income:
Final Report
(PDF - 782K, 96 pages)
By Michael Hatfield, Wendy Pyper and Burton Gustajtis
June 2010
[Excerpt]
Following the release of the fourth report based on MBM data in December 2008 covering the years from 2000 to 2006 it was determined that sufficient experience with the original measure had been obtained to undertake the first comprehensive review of the measure during 2009 and early 2010. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) joined with Statistics Canada to carry out the review.

The purpose of the review is to ensure that the MBM, to the extent feasible, meets the following three criteria:
1) that the MBM “basket” continues to embody a modest* basic standard of living in the Canadian context of 2010;
2) that the cost of purchasing this standard of living in specific geographical regions within the ten Provinces is estimated as precisely as possible; and
3) that the measure takes into account as fully as possible the resources available to households to purchase the content of the ‘basket.”
_______________

* OMG - Someone better give Chris Sarlo and Stephen Harper a Valium:
===> "Internet access services" is included as part of a modest basket of goods since 2005!
_______________

Complementary reading:

Low income definitions
Low Income Cut-offs (LICOs)
--- Rebasing and Indexing the LICOs
--- Low income rate and low income gap
--- Use of after-tax and before-tax LICOs
Low Income Measures (LIMs)
Market Basket Measure (MBM)
Source:
Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics: 2008
(The "Low incomes definitions" above are found on the Notes and Definitions link off the main page of the
Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics or SLID)

How to destroy a good poverty line [dead link]
By Michael Goldberg, Steve Kerstetter and Seth Klein
February 14, 2012
More than a decade ago, the federal and provincial governments started work on a new poverty line, the Market Basket Measure (MBM). After decades of distracting and divisive debates about poverty lines, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada crafted a methodology for the MBM that passed the test of common sense. These days, the federal government appears more intent on throwing all that work into the garbage heap. Two years ago, the bean-counters in Ottawa changed the methodology. In particular, they started calculating housing costs in a way that produced figures that were patently absurd. Suddenly, the much-lauded MBM no longer passed the test of common sense.
(...)
The MBM is worth getting right. Unlike other poverty measures, it is intuitive and easily understood because it is based on the actual cost of basic goods and services. The MBM is also grounded in real local expenses in cities and towns across Canada rather than using a single figure for all major cities regardless of variations in local costs. And it was designed to be reasonable.
(...)
The three of us (all longtime researchers of social policy and poverty issues) were early supporters of the MBM. While recent revisions to the costs for food, clothing, transportation and other items in urban and rural regions of each province met the test of common sense, the same could not be said for the revisions to the shelter costs. (...) Regrettably, we are forced to recommend - once again - that the MBMs not be used until they are fixed.
---
Michael Goldberg is a former director of research at the Social Planning and Research Council of BC.
Steve Kerstetter is a former director of the National Council of Welfare in Ottawa.
Seth Klein is B.C director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Source:
Vancouver Sun

http://www.vancouversun.com/

---

Issue Update: The Market Basket Measure - Rebased or Debased?
http://www.edmontonsocialplanning.ca/content/view/1002/
Winter 2011
By John Kolkman
(...) Canada has no official poverty line. Statistics Canada is always reminding us of this. But that doesn’t mean Canada has any shortage of measures of low income serving as de facto poverty lines.

The Market Basket Measure (MBM) is the most recent addition to these measures of low income. The MBM was developed in the late 1990s by the federal and provincial governments to be a better measure of low income. Existing measures such as the Low Income Cut-off (LICO) and the Low Income Measure have been criticized because they are based not on actual living costs but rather on how low income Canadians fare relative to other Canadians. By contrast, the Market Basket Measure would be set at a level reflecting the actual cost of a modest, basic standard of living (see side-bar for more details on the different measures).
(...)
When the initial MBM levels were determined in 2000, the income levels for a family of four were actually slightly higher than for the most widely used low income measure – the Low Income Cut-off measured on an after-tax basis. Social policy organizations including the Edmonton Social Planning Council began to urge provincial governments to base income support levels on the low income measure they had helped design. Suddenly, it was the provinces and the federal government that began losing interest in the MBM.
(...)
the federal government’s quiet release of a report last June called First Comprehensive Review of the Market Basket Measure of Low Income : Final Report [ http://goo.gl/WQVhB - PDF file ] came as a surprise to many who follow social policy and low income issues closely. While the report may have been comprehensive, it certainly was not consultative. It resulted from closed door discussions between two federal Ministries with input from officials from provincial and territorial governments. Public input was restricted to a single session with five hand-picked experts from outside of government.

Source:
Edmonton Social Planning Council

http://www.edmontonsocialplanning.ca

Low Income in Canada: 2000-2007 Using the Market Basket Measure (PDF - 459K, 89 pages)
August 2009
The Market Basket Measure (MBM) is a measure of low income based on the cost of a specified basket of goods and services. It was designed to complement two Statistics Canada measures of low income: the Low Income Cut-offs (LICOs) based on average consumption patterns and the Low Income Measure (LIM) based on median incomes. The MBM is far more sensitive to geographical differences in living costs than these other measures.

Table of Contents:
* 1. Introduction
* 2. Low Income Measures: Conceptual Differences
* 3. The Market Basket Measure
* 4. The Results
* 5. A Focus on the "Working Poor"
* 6. High Risk Groups
* 7. Conclusion
* 8. Introduction to Tables 7-10
* Appendix A - Methodological Annex
* Appendix B - Health Canada's National Nutritious Food Basket - 1998
* Appendix C - Revised Clothing and Footwear component (2005) based on January 2001 Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Harvest Acceptable Level of Living (A.L.L)
* Appendix D - Percentage of Rental Units in which Various Appliances are included in the Rent, Labour Force Survey (LFS) Rent Supplement, Average of June to December 2000
* Appendix E - Cities in which transportation items are collected 1
* Appendix F - Survey of Household Spending (SHS) Items Included in Other Expenses Calculation: Numerator
* Appendix G - MBM Thresholds for Reference Family by Component 2007($)

Highlights:
* The national incidence of low income fell from 14.6% in 2000 to 10.1% in 2007.
* This decline in incidence was widespread across all age groups with children under 18 experiencing the largest decline since 2000 (6.2 percentage points to 11.9% in 2007).
* Among age groups, the incidence among seniors was the lowest; falling from 5.5% in 2000 to 2.6% in 2007.
* The national incidence of low income in 2007 was higher using the MBM (10.1%) than Statistics Canada's post-income tax Low Income Cut-offs (LICOs-IAT) (9.2%).1 This pattern was repeated for most sub-groups.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

See also:

Low Income in Canada: 2000-2006 Using the Market Basket Measure (PDF)
October 2008

Low Income in Canada: 2000-2004 Using the Market Basket Measure
November 2007 (PDF file date)

Understanding the 2000 Low Income Statistics Based on the Market Basket Measure
May 2003
- incl. links to: Understanding the 2000 Low Income Statistics Based on the Market Basket Measure - Interpreting the Statistical Tables -
Appendix A - Methodological Annex (incl. a comparison of LICOs-IBT [Pre-income tax Low Income Cut-offs], LIM-IAT [Post- income tax Low Income Measure] and the Market Basket Measure (MBM) - Distinctive Features of the MBM - Composition of the MBM [detailed info on the items that make up the basket]
Appendix B - Health Canada's National Nutritious Food Basket - 1998
Appendix C - Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Harvest - January 2001 Acceptable Level of Living (A.L.L.) 2000
Appendix D - Percentage of rental units in which various appliances are included in the rent, Labour Force Survey (LFS) rent supplement, average of June to December 2000
Appendix E - Cities in which transportation items are collected
Appendix F - Survey of Household Spending (SHS) items included in Other Expenses calculation: numerator
Appendix G - Market Basket Measure (MBM) thresholds for reference family by component ($)

Constructing the Revised Market Basket Measure (PDF- 39K, 17 pages)
April 2002
Technical Paper

---

Poverty and Child Well-Being in Canada and the United States:
Does it Matter How We Measure Poverty?
(PDF)
September 2000

MBM Background Analysis/Commentary

Income for Living? (PDF)
Spring 2004
"Income for Living? is the first report in which the Council looked at the new Market Basket Measure (MBM) poverty line. It compares four different income types: welfare, minimum wage, low wage, and average wage. The research showed that some Canadians working full-time lived in poverty and could not afford average housing and child care costs."

Click the link above and then the PDF link to access this report.

Source:
National Council of Welfare
Advisory body of the Minister of Human Resources Development Canada (now Social Development Canada)


Concerns about the Market Basket Measure
by Chris Sarlo
Source:
Fraser Forum - July 2003



The Market Basket Measure of Poverty (PDF file - 93K, 2 pages)
by Chris Sarlo
"The 'market basket measure' of poverty may be a victory for the basic needs approach this author developed, but celebrations are premature."
Source:
Fraser Forum - April 2003
[Fraser Institute]



Dissenting View:

Richard Shillington
[Tristat Resources]

A short discussion paper on HRDC's Market Basket Measure (January 1999)

Toronto Star - Jan. 29, 1999 - op ed
More critique of the HRDC Market Basket Measure

An update to notes on HRDC's Market Basket Measure (April 2003)

The Poverty Debate
- incl. "A note on the history of our attitudes towards poverty and the poor"

Historical information from the 1994 Social Security Reform :

Improving Social Security in Canada : A Discussion Paper
October 1994
 

(212K, 61 pages)

Improving Social Security in Canada was the main document of the 1994 Social Security Review. It presented arguments about the need for reform of the federal government's involvement in provincial-territorial social security programs. It also presented an analysis of and options for Human Resources Development Canada's three-pronged mandate --- working, learning and security.
The section entitled "Security: Building opportunity for people in need" focuses on the federal government's role in Canadian social security programs in 1994-95 and proposed reform options. (Click on the title of the report, then scroll down the page to the table of contents to find the Security section)
Here's what you'll find in that section:

Introduction - What the federal government does now - The Canada Assistance Plan (CAP) - The Child Tax Benefit - The need for CAP reform - The goals for reform - Approaches to reform - Possible first steps - Longer-term approaches to reform
This 1994 report lays the groundwork for the reform of federal social transfers, the reform of Unemployment/Employment Insurance and the federal role in education in Canada.

Related Links :

Reforming the Canada Assistance Plan: A Supplementary Paper (1994) - 121K, 46 pages
Income Security for Children: A Supplementary Paper (1994) - 111K, 25 pages)
Guaranteed Annual Income: A Supplementary Paper (1994) - 117K, 37 pages

Note: For international information about guaranteed annual income (or "basic income") schemes, visit: 
the Basic Income European Network (BIEN)

- See also the Canadian Social Research Links Guaranteed Annual Income page


Miscellaneous

From the
University of Victoria Department of Geography:

January 2010
Recent supplements to
The British Columbia Atlas of Wellness:

The original report:

The British Columbia Atlas of Wellness (2007)
The BC Atlas of Wellness was created in partnership with the University of Victoria Geography Department, and it uses the ActNow BC initiative (2005) as a framework to present its findings. It consists of more than 270 maps and supporting tables that provide data related to approximately 120 wellness-related indicators for B.C. communities, where positive and negative indicators are offset against each other to give an overall wellness score.

What's new?

Supplements to The BC Atlas of Wellness,
(organized in reverse chronological order)
based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey:

* The Geography of Wellness and Well-being Across BC (2010)
This Supplement examines geographic patterns of wellness and wellbeing among the province's 16 Health Service Delivery Areas.

* The Geography of Wellness and Well-being Across Canada (2009)
This Supplement examines geographic patterns of wellness and wellbeing among Canadian provinces and territories, and it examines differences between genders and among differing age cohorts at the national and individual provincial and territorial levels.

* The Seniors Supplement (2008)
This supplement focuses on seniors’ wellness, and it provides maps of 39 separate indicators at the 16 Health Service Delivery Areas level for the province based on the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey.

Critical Synthesis of Wellness Literature (PDF - 412K, 45 pages)
By Gord Miller and Leslie T. Foster
February 2010

< Begin first lament of February 2010. >

1. A cautionary tale for would-be Flash site designers: DON'T!
Except for the bottom link above, which is a PDF file, the rest of the Atlas of Wellness pages are designed in Flash.
ARGH. Good luck bookmarking these reports or finding your way back to them later.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
See Flash Sucks .org

2. Pleeeeeeze date your reports!
3. FILESIZES!!! The complete original Atlas is a 145MB PDF file.
C'mon --- this is ridiculous even for someone with a high-end broadband connection.
The individual chapter downloads for all of the reports are all way too large.
The "Critical Synthesis" file above is the only one that appears reasonable in size.
If your web design team can't optimize PDF files, try contracting out to an outfit that does.

< /End first lament of February 2010. >

********************************

Related links:

ActNow BC initiative (BC Govt.)
ActNow BC was introduced in early 2005 to encourage British Columbians to make healthy lifestyle choices to improve their quality of life, reduce the incidence of preventable chronic disease, and reduce the burden on the health care system. ActNow BC is an integrated, government-wide approach that engages the contributions of partners in other levels of government (e.g., municipalities), non-government organizations, schools, communities, and the private sector to develop and deliver programs and services to assist individuals to quit or never start smoking, to be more physically active, eat healthier foods, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and make healthy choices in pregnancy.

Québec:

Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion (CEPE) - Québec
The Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion (CEPE) is an observation, research and discussion centre entrusted with providing reliable and rigourous information, notably of a statistical nature, on poverty and social exclusion issues. The CEPE was created in the spirit of the Act to combat poverty and social exclusion in spring 2005 under the aegis of the ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MESS).

Selected site content:

Equivalence scales: an Empirical Validation (PDF, 178 KB, 23 pages)
By Fréchet, Guy, Pierre Lanctôt, Alexandre Morin and Frédéric Savard
September 2010
In its brief to the minister entitled Taking the Measure of Poverty: Proposed Indicators of Poverty, Inequality and Social Exclusion to Measure Progress in Québec, the Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion (CEPE) formulated numerous recommendations with respect to poverty indicators, inequality and exclusion. The fourth such recommendation concerns equivalence scales, which are tools that make it possible to adjust the various low income thresholds based on household size. These scales take into account economies of scale within a household and also presuppose a more or less equivalent level of well being. The recommendation reads as follows: “The Centre recommends using Statistics Canada’s 40/30 equivalence scale to account for economies of scale” (CEPE, 2009, p. 33). (...) Our working paper offers an empirical validation that will make it possible to understand the implications of choosing one of the scales, in this case the Statistics Canada scale.

----

From after-tax income to market basket measure (MBM) disposable income (PDF, 80 KB, 8 pages)
By Guy Fréchet, Pierre Lanctôt and Alexandre Morin (2010)
September 2010
Comparisons of various low income thresholds are carried out using bases that are not entirely comparable: low income cut-offs (LICOs) and the low income measure (LIM) are based on before- or after-tax income (but before social contributions), whereas the market basket measure (MBM) is based on the cost of a market basket in a community of residence and disposable income for purposes of consumption (after taxes and social contributions). This begs the following question: How high must the average after-tax income of a given household be in order for it to have the means to acquire the basket in question, given that the cost of the basket must correspond to an equivalent income? The purpose of this working paper is to provide a detailed justification for a proposed 7% upward adjustment in the market basket measure (MBM) as a means of rendering the thresholds comparable to an after-tax income.

---

NOTE: The following report is available in French only, but an excerpt from the abstract in English is copied below.

Les déterminants macroéconomiques de la pauvreté : Une étude
de l’incidence de la pauvreté au sein des familles québécoises
sur la période 1976-2006
(PDF - 147Ko, 41 pages)
Jean-Michel Cousineau
Août 2009
École de relations industrielles
Université de Montréal
Abstract [Excerpt]:
One of the most extraordinary change that affected Canada and Québec in the recent decenny is the dramatic decrease in their poverty rates. This paper estimates the contribution of the macroeconomic determinants of poverty for economic families in Québec and Canada. Such a study may help to understand year to year changes in poverty rates as well as the respective role of markets and governments over various sub-periods of our sample (1976-1989; 1989-1996 and lastly : 1996-2006).

---

Taking the Measure of Poverty, Proposed indicators of poverty,
inequality and social exclusion to measure progress in Québec:
Advice to the Minister
(PDF - 311K, 80 pages)
Centre for the study of poverty and exclusion
2009 (file dated September 21/09)
------------------------
version française :
Prendre la mesure de la pauvreté, Proposition d’indicateurs de pauvreté,
d’inégalités et d’exclusion sociale afin de mesurer les progrès réalisés au Québec
Avis au ministre
(fichier PDF - 668 Ko., 71 pages)
Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion
2009
------------------------
One of the mandates of the Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion is to propose, to the minister of Emploi et Solidarité sociale, measures and indicators of poverty, inequality and social exclusion to measure progress in Québec in the implementation of the Act to combat poverty and social exclusion. This advice is a first proposition in that direction.
[ more reports by CEPE ]
Source:
Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion

GPI Atlantic - Genuine Progress Index for Atlantic Canada
"GPI Atlantic is a non-profit research group, founded in 1997, to develop an index of sustainable development and well being - the Genuine Progress Index. The Nova Scotia GPI consists of 22 social, economic and environmental components, including: Time Use - Natural Capital - Environment/Quality - Socioeconomic issues - Income Distribution - Social Capita"
- incl. links to : About Us | GPINews | Publications | Presentations | Articles/Press Releases | Media Clippings | Community GPI | Membership | Current Activities | Services | Directors/Researchers | Book Store | Search | Links | Environment | RealityCheck

For links to resources on poverty measures in the U.S and elsewhere in the world,,
go to the Canadian Social Research Links International Poverty Measures page

For links to social program statistics for Canada and other countries,
go to the Canadian Social Research Links Social Statistics page

For info on asset-based approaches to social policy,
see the Canadian Social Research Links Asset-Based Social Policies Links page


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