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Poverty in Canada

By Arujan Sivasothilingam

Contributing Author

Did you know that according to Statistics Canada, the poverty rates in Canada have been decreasing through the year 2019? Canada, a developed country, has managed to maintain a low poverty rate over the past years, even though the number of immigrants and the population continue to increase. However, in 2021, things might change. According to Rebekah Young, director of fiscal and provincial economics at Scotiabank, she believes that “2020 will show a bit of an artificial drop in poverty levels because of all the exceptional government transfers related to the pandemic.” She also believes that the poverty rate progression and poverty reduction will stall after the pandemic.

Over the past few years, before the pandemic, the poverty rate had been decreasing. 10.1 percent of the population was living in poverty in 2019. In 2018, 11 percent of the population was living in poverty. 2015 was a year that saw 14.5 percent of the total population in poverty. Many First Nations communities also face these difficult tasks with over 22 percent of First Nations communities in poverty.

The pandemic has caused many challenges to citizens in Canada. It caused a lot of people to lose their jobs, and also affected the economy as the whole country had been in lockdown for multiple months. As a result, many of the prices increased. Foods and water have become more expensive than ever, which has put a difficult toll on the Canadians that live in poverty. As Rebekah Young said, “These Canadians that are most vulnerable may get left behind this recovery that everyone’s forecasting, recovery for most, but not for everyone.”

Most of the people working in the food and accommodation businesses have been affected. Since they were likely working low-income jobs, it’s easy to realize that it has become more difficult than ever for these Canadians to provide for themselves and their families.

According to Rebekah Young, if Canadians remain unemployed for 6 to 12 months during and after the pandemic, it can have a negative effect on the poverty rates. It can cause an increase in homelessness and hunger in Canada. “About a quarter of the unemployed have been unemployed since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Young. It’s difficult to find out whether or not many of those living in poverty because of the pandemic can ever come back to living affordably. With the pandemic lasting now over a full year, many families have become unable to get the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. Recent figures suggest those still in poverty have not seen improvements. Unemployment has increased almost 14 percent since September 2020, highest since December 1982. It seems hard to believe whether or not the Canadian government will provide programs and benefits like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and The Employment Insurance (EI) program.

The increased cost of living and unemployment in Canada begs the question: will the government and Canadians overcome this pandemic and its negative consequences? Or will Canadians face further outcomes that can shape the course of life?

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in the blog posts are those of the contributing author. Rising Sun Food Drive Foundation makes every effort to provide space for young people to advocate and voice their thoughts, research, opinions and ideas that are inspired by our mission but may not reflect on the organization's services and operations.

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