Stat Can: Toronto Takes The Top Spot For The Highest Ratio of Poverty In Canada

Canada’s largest city has claimed the top spot for the rate of people in poverty, across the country. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data released this morning shows a drop in at least one measure of poverty across the country. As expected, the drop was uneven though, with some of Canada’s major cities seeing a sharp annual increase. Other cities, like Toronto, saw the rate fall slower than average, allowing the cities to climb higher up the ranks of major cities with higher rates of poverty. 

Market Basket Measure (MBM)

The market basket measure (MBM) is Canada’s official measure for the poverty line. The indicator is a regional basket of goods and services representing a modest, but basic standard of living. Food, clothes, shelter, transportation, etc. are all included in this measure. People with incomes that can’t afford the basket, are considered low income or in poverty. 

Use of this measure is relatively new, which is partially why there’s been such a rapid perceived decline in the amount of poverty measured in Canada. Some poverty prevention experts prefer the previously popular Low Income Measure (LIM). The LIM suggests not much has changed for decades. The difference between them is a whole other article for another day though. 

Canada’s Official Measure of Poverty Sees Rate Drop 0.7% 

Canada is seeing the ratio of people in poverty generally decline across the country, according to the MBM measure. About 11.0% of Canadians were low income by this measure in 2018, down 0.7% from a year before. This is the lowest rate recorded, but the measure only goes back to 2015. Still, the national decline is substantial, with a lot of major cities failing to keep up. 

Atlantic Provinces See Big Declines In Poverty

The biggest provincial declines were found in two Atlantic provinces. New Brunswick had a low income rate of 10% in 2018, down 2.1% from a year before – the biggest drop of any province. Nova Scotia follows with a rate of 13.3%, down 1.7% from a year before. The rate of declines are at least double the rate of Canada. However, very few whole provinces are seeing increases. 

Canadian Poverty Rate By Province

The percent of people in poverty, based on the market basket measure.
Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.

The only region to see increases in the rate of poverty are Canada’s prairies, but that point needs a big asterisk beside it. Prairie provinces saw 10% of people in poverty in 2018, up 0.1% from a year before. Breaking down that indicator though, the decline was due to a single province seeing a drop – Alberta. The province of Alberta had a rate of 9.4% in 2018, up 0.4% from a year before. All other prairie provinces saw improvements. 

Toronto Now Has The Highest Ratio of Major Cities

Stat Can’s municipal breakdown shows Toronto claimed the top spot from Vancouver. Toronto’s ratio was 13.9% in 2018, down 0.3% from a year before. This smaller than average decline puts Toronto at the top of the list for people in poverty. Vancouver, which had the former top spot, had a ratio of 12.4%, down 2.5% from a year before. Even though these were the top two regions, they both saw falling rates. 

Canadian Poverty Rate By City

The percent of people in poverty, based on the market basket measure.
Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.

 Not all cities are seeing rates decline, with some cities seeing sharp increases. Calgary made the biggest climb with the rate reaching 12.3% in 2018, up 3.9% from a year before. Quebec City followed with a rate of 8.4%, up 2.7% from a year before. The Ottawa-Gatineau area climbed to 11.1%, up 0.3% from a year before. Despite a general improvement across the country, three of the eight major cities tracked showed increases. 

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  • Ottawa Resident 1 year ago

    The government rolled out their own poverty reduction measure, poverty increased in Ottawa – right in front of them, and they’re still sticking with the narrative things are improving.

  • Terrance 1 year ago

    and with the way the government measures rent, you better believe it’s a lot higher in Toronto.

    When you have young professionals sharing a condo while thousands are empty, and they don’t have any money to do anything, they’re pretty much in poverty as well. The measure shouldn’t be generic rent at the base.

    • Trader Jim 1 year ago

      The way rent is measured is a double edged sword. The marginal rent reported by the media is inaccurate, because the majority of people in cities like Toronto pay half the rent in the news.

      Using the average for calculating poverty has the same issue, where new residents may be in poverty, but not considered so because they pay a lot more.

      • Bob Odenkirk 1 year ago

        Half the rent as in the news? I haven’t heard of anyone paying $800-$1000 for a place in more than 5 years, let alone your made up “majority”.

        Even “affordable” housing the City is promoting is going for $1400+.

        • AJ 1 year ago

          The difference between marginal and actual rates are very important in understanding how “everyone” can afford a $2,000/month apartment.

          I pay $1.000/month for a one bedroom in a building that rents the same units for $2,200 now. The majority of the people in the building haven’t moved since prior to 2017, so they’re all probably at the same price point.

          Marginal rents reported in the news are also secondary market rentals, not primary. There’s a lot to learn about rental prices in Canada, my friend.

  • Ethan Wu 1 year ago

    Any chance we can get an article on the CEWS cliff. Things are only looking good because the government is paying 75% of salaries. When they stop, that’s going to be the real adjustment to employment efficiency.

  • GG 1 year ago

    Wish we could like these comments

  • The Truth Will Set You Free 1 year ago

    So Toronto is number 1 …or is it number 2? See what I just did…yeah you know you did.

  • Fight Back 1 year ago

    We all know the solution is to lower housing prices and force speculators to sell.
    For example any corp or individual with more than 1 residential real estate will be taxed heavily. Force these speculators to sell, real estate should not be allowed to be an “investment” when millions are suffering.

    But we also know the government is in bed with real estate speculators, what can we do. Maybe we should force all government officials to make public real estate holdings they have.

  • straw walker 1 year ago

    CDN is now seeing the large disparity in wealth and income that has become even more noticeable due to the wuhan virus.

  • Skyanna 1 year ago

    I’d say Vancouver has the highest poverty and homelessness in the entire country. I’ve seen it first hand and it’s worse then Toronto by a long shot.

    • Jay 1 year ago

      Do you actually live in Toronto? Because there’s homeless encampments all over the city. It’s just not in the suburbs where most people live, or in the 6 blocks tourists go.

  • Groot 1 year ago

    100% agree. Huge drug problem there as well. Everyone just sees the pretty side as advertised. There are people living in cars, vans, squatters, homeless shelters, on the streets. It makes T.O. look like nothing.

    • Jay 1 year ago

      Toronto has the same problems. Encampments all over the city. The police just keep breaking them up, so they roam instead of like Vancouver’s more semi-permanent setup.

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