In 2018, the Government of Canada made a historic commitment toward reducing poverty through Opportunity for All—Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Strategy included the creation of the National Advisory Council on Poverty and established ambitious poverty reduction targets aimed at building a Canada where every Canadian has a real and fair chance of success.
Today, on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, tabled in Parliament the Council’s third report on Canada’s progress in reducing poverty. The report, entitled Transforming our Systems, notes that significant progress has been made on reducing poverty in Canada. There were more than 2.6 million fewer people living in poverty in 2020 compared to 2015, including 782,000 children and 187,000 seniors.
However, while the progress made is encouraging, it must be considered in the context of a year that saw exceptional and temporary government income support measures in response to the pandemic. Affordability pressures remain for many Canadians, including the rising cost of living due to inflation.
This is why, as Canada continues its recovery from the pandemic and faces new challenges, the Government will keep working hard to ensure a strong recovery for everyone. From delivering the Canada Child Benefit and raising it every year to keep pace with inflation, to cutting regulated child care fees in half on average by the end of this year for families across the country, we are delivering support for the middle class and those working hard to join it. In addition, on September 20, 2022, the Government introduced legislation to make life more affordable for Canadians who need it most.
The measures proposed in these bills include:
- doubling the Goods and Services Tax Credit for six months, delivering support to roughly 11 million individuals and families who receive the tax credit, including about half of Canadian families with children, and more than half of Canadian seniors;
- providing a Canada Dental Benefit to children under 12 who do not have access to dental insurance, starting this year; and
- providing a one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit to deliver $500 to 1.8 million Canadian renters who are struggling with the cost of housing.
While the Government of Canada continues to make progress towards its poverty reduction goals, the Council’s recommendations will help to inform more inclusive policies and programs so that the Government can help grow a more resilient and inclusive society and economy that leaves no one behind.
“Quick government action helped lift Canadians out of poverty, when the pandemic could have pushed them over the brink. While today’s report is encouraging, we know there is more to do, and we know that Canadians are worried about the rising cost of living. From building an affordable child care system, to making sure people can get the dental care they need, to putting hundreds of dollars back in the pockets of Canadians, our government is working to make life more affordable and build an economy that works for all Canadians.”
– Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould
“We’ve seen the impact of investing in ourselves through challenging times, as demonstrated by our national poverty rate dropping to an all-time low. However, at the same time we’ve seen increases in food insecurity, unmet housing needs and overall inflation. The National Advisory Council on Poverty is proud to present its 2022 report which recommends a way forward through early intervention, access for all, adequacy of support, and enhanced equity in every aspect of our society. We have an opportunity to come together to live up to the promise of Canada, a country where we take care and care about each other.”
– Chairperson of the National Advisory Council on Poverty, Scott MacAfee
- The Poverty Reduction Strategy includes concrete poverty reduction targets and established Canada’s Official Poverty Line to measure poverty and track progress. The targets are:
- a 20% reduction in poverty, relative to 2015 levels, by 2020, an objective that was reached ahead of schedule; and
- a 50% reduction in poverty by 2030, relative to 2015 levels, which is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- According to the 2020 Canadian Income Survey, Canada’s overall poverty rate was estimated at 6.4% in 2020, down from 10.3% in 2019 and 14.5% in 2015.
- The Poverty Reduction Strategy also created the National Advisory Council on Poverty to provide independent advice to the Government on poverty reduction; to submit an annual report on progress toward the Government’s poverty reduction goals; and to continue a dialogue with Canadians on poverty.
- The members of the Council were selected as part of an open, transparent and merit-based selection process that strove to reflect Canada’s diversity, in terms of gender, regions and official languages. The Council includes Indigenous people, racialized people and people with lived experience of poverty.