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Statement on ESDC Announcement


Today, the Government of Canada announced it had met its target of reducing poverty in Canada by 20% by 2020 three years early, based on the income data released today by Statistics Canada.

This announcement by the government uses data from the Market Basket Measure (MBM) — a measure that has significant flaws and is currently undergoing modifications following a public consultation period.

For example, the current MBM measurement puts a market-rate 2-bedroom apartment at $1100 a month in Vancouver, a city where 2-bedrooms regularly run over $3000 per month, a number that is highly unrealistic and does not reflect the real cost for people living in the city. While the MBM is being used to show a decline in poverty in 2017, the calculation itself is still based on 2011 numbers — a fact that challenges how effective the tool can be without reflecting a rising cost of living over six years.

Additionally, Statistics Canada identified today that both the MBM and the Low-Income Measure, an income measurement preferred by many who engage in anti-poverty work, must both be used to truly capture the picture of poverty in Canada. We are pleased to see that both the LIM and MBM reflect a decline in poverty in 2017, a reduction that can be attributed to strong policies like the Canada Child Benefit; however, our work to eradicate poverty in Canada is far from complete.

Based on a whole picture of the data, the 2020 targets have not yet been met, and as such, the announcement by the government is premature. Significantly more action is needed for the 4 million food insecure households, 235,000 people experiencing homelessness, and the over 4 million people living in poverty according to the LIM.

This action includes the release of the dashboard of indicators for poverty outlined in Opportunity for All, the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy and the recognition of the right to an adequate standard of living that Canada is obliged to fulfill under international human rights law. We remain concerned about the next steps for the millions of people in Canada still living in poverty and low-income, whose financial struggles are not adequately represented by today’s announcement.