Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Poverty in Canada

Poverty in Canada

In 2006, the value of goods and services produced in Canada was over a trillion dollars – amounting to an estimated $35,600 in wealth generated for every man, woman and child in the country, or $142,400 for a family of four. Despite this vast wealth, there is an ever-widening gap between high-income and low-income individuals and households in Canada. This “growing gap” is contributing to a widening social divide in Canada: a comparative few have unlimited opportunity to fulfill their dreams and potential; many more citizens strain to meet their basic needs. (For excellent detailed information on the growing gap, maintained by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, click here.)

At least 3.4 million people – or about one in ten Canadians – lived in poverty in Canada in 2006. They included an estimated 760,000 children and youth. Demographic groups most susceptible to poverty include Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, single parents (primarily women) and their children, recent immigrants to Canada, and those toiling in low-paying jobs.

To live in poverty in Canada is to live with insufficient and often poor quality food. It is to sleep in poor quality housing, in homeless shelters, or on city streets. It is to be at much greater risk of poor health. It is to be unable to participate fully in one’s community and greater society. And it is to suffer great depths of anxiety and emotional pain, borne by young and old alike.

The persistence of poverty and income inequality, and their negative impacts on health, social cohesion and economic prosperity calls out for vision, leadership and unwavering determination to tackle the root causes of these problems. The National Anti-Poverty Organization is dedicated to this agenda.

Did You Know?

There is no official definition of poverty in Canada and no official "poverty lines" for the nation. However, there are several measures of “low income” which are often used as proxies for poverty lines. These measures include the Low Income Cut-off (LICO), the Low Income Measure (LIM) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). For a short review of these measures, click here (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Poverty and Social Exclusion

Solving Complex Issues through Comprehensive Approaches

Download the Report/Study:

New Study Documents Brutal Impact of Homelessness on Women
News Release, CNW (23 June 2008)

"A Life-Threatening Condition"
TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - A new study released today documents the brutal impact of homelessness on the lives of women in Toronto. Calling homelessness a "life-threatening" condition for women, the study reveals staggering rates of sexual assault among homeless women, and documents health impacts that significantly reduce life expectancy. The Women & Homelessness Research Bulletin, released jointly by Street Health and Sistering, paints a detailed picture of women's street homelessness today and its devastating impact.

"We were staggered to learn that homeless women are ten times more likely to be sexually assaulted than homeless men and are more likely to have a serious physical health condition," stated Kate Mason, study coordinator at Street Health. "One in five women had been sexually assaulted in the past year and almost all - 84% - had at least one serious physical health condition."

"Absolute poverty exists on the streets of our city with brutal consequences for women," said Angela Robertson, study advisor, and Executive Director of Sistering. "Homeless women cannot meet their basic survival needs - they don't know where their next meal is coming from, they don't have safe shelter or private space to address personal hygiene needs. The provincial government is developing a strategy to reduce poverty, that strategy should include steps to bring an end to women's street homelessness. It's unsafe and unjust to condemn a woman to live on the street."

The study is a partnership between Street Health, an organization providing nursing care and street outreach services to homeless people, and Sistering, a multi-service agency for homeless and low-income women in Toronto. It surveyed 97 homeless women in Toronto about their health status and access to health care. Findings include information on the causes of homelessness, the difficult daily lives of homeless women, their physical and mental health status, as well as the barriers homeless women face when attempting to access health care. The bulletin sets out a series of solutions aimed at service providers and all levels of government to improve the health of homeless women and end homelessness... [Read More]

The cost of homelessness
Lori Culbert, With Files From Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun (22 March 2008)

B.C. spends $644 million a year on services for those on the street. A study says the same amount would buy supported housing for all...

...the conclusion of the 150-page report -- written by five academics at Simon Fraser University, the University of B.C. and the University of Calgary -- is that B.C. taxpayers could even save money if that cash was instead spent directly on supported social housing.

"We wound up generating an estimated cost [of homeless people] in B.C. that is roughly the same as the cost of implementing the full-meal deal of housing and supports for every one of those people," said one of the authors, professor Julian Somers, director of SFU's Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.

The report, completed last month, says its research shows that approximately 130,000 people in B.C. have a severe addiction and/or a mental illness; about 26,500 of those people are "inadequately housed and inadequately supported," including 11,750 who are "absolutely homeless."

The authors said that at the time the report was written, there were 7,741 supported housing units in B.C. for people with mental illness and/or addictions, and therefore concluded an estimated 18,759 vulnerable people were at "imminent risk of homelessness."

If these people had been taken care of properly in the first place the majority of them would not have ended up on the streets. The cost of the mess created by the cuts to welfare and other services are part of the cause. If you end up homeless you will become mentally or physically ill. Even those living in poverty are more prone to both as well.

Prevention is the cure