April 17, 2000
Urban Poverty in Canada: A Statistical Profile
Urban Poverty in Canada: A Statistical Profile uses data from the 1996 Census (the most recent data available) and Statistics Canada's low income cut-offs to measure poverty. Containing data for 47 cities, it is the most comprehensive study to date of poverty rates in Canada's major urban areas. Among other findings, it demonstrates that substantial differences in rates of low income exist within and among Canadian communities. Findings include:
Poverty increased throughout Canada in the early 1990s, but more so in metropolitan areas. Between 1990 and 1995, poor populations in metropolitan areas grew by 33.8 per cent, compared to 18.2 per cent outside metropolitan areas.
Cities in Québec tended to have the highest poverty rates, while cities in southern Ontario tended to have the lowest rates. Montréal had the highest poverty rate of all cities and Oakville had the lowest.
Poverty rates varied within the same metropolitan area. For example, within the metropolitan area of Toronto, the poverty rate in the city of Toronto was 27.6 per cent, compared to Oakville's rate of 9.9 per cent.
The number of neighbourhoods in Canada with high concentrations of poverty increased between 1980 and 1995. Three-fifths (60.0 per cent) of high-poverty neighbourhoods were located in Montréal and Toronto.
Certain population groups - such as recent immigrants, single parents, Aboriginal people and elderly women - were more likely than others to be poor. For example, while the average poverty rate among all city residents was 24.5 per cent, the poverty rate among Aboriginal people living in urban areas was 55.6 per cent.
Poverty rates for groups with similar demographic characteristics varied considerably among the cities. For example, a person in Montréal with a post-secondary certificate was more likely to be poor than someone without a high school degree in most other cities. Variations in city poverty rates were reflected to some extent in the average incomes of all families. The average income of working-age families ranged from $42,300 in Cape Breton to $96,200 in Oakville.
The average income of poor families with working-age members was $14,500, only one-quarter the average income of all families with working-age members.
Since 1995, the overall labour market has improved, but many of the groups with the highest rates of poverty are those least likely to have benefited much from the improvement. In addition, budget cuts to income security programs have deepened. Indicators such as metropolitan unemployment rates and shares of full-time employment suggest that improvements in the labour market between 1995 and 1998 have been uneven. The latest data at the national level indicate that poverty rates declined only slowly.
The following charts show the poverty rates of the 47 cities in metropolitan areas examined, expressed as a percentage of the population, ranked from highest poverty rates to lowest:
Urban Poverty in Canada: A Statistical Profile - Related Material
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