April 17, 2000
1990s marked by rise in poverty in Canadian cities
OTTAWA - The number of people living in poverty in Canadian cities rose dramatically in the early 1990s, according to a new report released today by the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD). Urban Poverty in Canada: A Statistical Profile, containing data for 47 cities, is the most comprehensive study to date of poverty rates in Canada's major urban areas. It shows that between 1990 and 1995, the number of people living in poverty in Canada's metropolitan areas increased by an alarming 33.8 per cent.
Among cities, Montreal had the highest poverty rate in 1995, at 41.2%. Even in Oakville, Ontario, which had the lowest rate, nearly 10% of the population lived below Statistics Canada's low income cut-offs. "In part these results show that no community is immune to poverty, and that the early 1990s were tough on many of them," said study author Kevin Lee, a research associate with the CCSD.
"Poverty has serious effects on the long-term health of children, and unhealthy children affect the health of the nation. Clearly there is cause for concern," said CCSD executive director, Marcel Lauzière.
Among working-age poor families, average family income was $14,500, only one-quarter the average income of all working-age families. "This report sheds more light on the state of poverty in Canadian cities and the considerable differences in income that exist within and among Canadian communities," said Lee.
The wide-ranging study uses data from the 1996 Census (the most recent available) and Statistics Canada's low income cut-offs (LICOs) in comparing cities across Canada. Statistics Canada's LICOs, below which people are said to live in "straightened circumstances," serve as Canada's unofficial poverty line. Gallup polls over the past 20 years confirm that the LICOs correspond closely to the Canadian public's opinion of what constitutes poverty.
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Urban Poverty in Canada: A Statistical Profile - Related Material
Canadian Council on Social Development,
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Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2R3
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