Open Letter to the Chief Statistician of Canada

October 17, 2001

Mr. Ivan P. Fellegi
Chief Statistician of Canada
Office of the Chief Statistician of Canada
Statistics Canada


RH Coats Building (Holland Ave & Scott St.)
Tunney’s Pasture
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0T6

Dear Mr. Fellegi:

Please find attached a position paper adopted by the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council on Social Development, that defines the Council’s perspective on various poverty measures in Canada and that includes recommendations regarding these measures directed to Statistics Canada and federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Given the fact that Canada does not have an official, government-mandated poverty line, there is a great deal of controversy that surrounds poverty measures in Canada and the manner in which they are reported by governments and non-governmental organizations alike. The development and launch of the Market Basket Measure promises to fuel this debate.

The CCSD felt the time was right for a thoughtful piece that would address the issues associated with poverty measurement in Canada. This paper details the pros and cons of the major poverty measures and weighs some of the arguments associated with them. It explores the debate concerning relative versus absolute lines of poverty and examines the advantages and disadvantages of the three key poverty measures currently at play in Canada. In addition, the article includes three specific recommendations that directly relate to the LICOs, LIM and MBM and that I would like to bring to your attention.

We will be posting this position paper on our website (, printing it in our CCSD bulletin Perception and distributing it widely to our membership and NGO partners.

We trust that you will find our recommendations useful in your deliberations with your colleagues about the way in which poverty is measured in Canada. Should you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact me at the CCSD at (613) 236-8977.


Marcel Lauzière
Executive Director

c.c.: Mr. Avrim Lazar, ADM, Social Policy, HRDC
Mr. Allen Zeesman, Director General, Applied Research Branch, Strategic Policy, HRDC


Defining and Re-Defining Poverty: A CCSD Perspective


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Phone: 613-236-8977

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