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Holes in the Social Safety Net: Poverty, Inequality and Social Assistance in Canada

Author

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  • Inez Hillel

Abstract

This report looks at Canada’s social safety net before the onset of the crisis caused by COVID-19 and collapsing oil prices. It sets the stage by reviewing trends in poverty and inequality between 1976 and 2018. The report examines the federal government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and its success in reducing poverty for children and seniors. Working-age adults without children have experienced the smallest relative decrease in poverty and currently have the highest poverty rates among any age group. The report analyzes general eligibility criteria and work and training requirements for social assistance, and the adequacy of welfare. National trends show that welfare dependency has fallen significantly between 1998 and 2018. Other significant trends show an increase in the percentage of social assistance recipients reporting a disability, a growing proportion of single adults on welfare and a decrease in the number of families with children receiving social assistance. To reduce poverty and improve welfare adequacy, this report recommends increasing social assistance benefits, raising the minimum wage, improving earning supplements for low-wage workers and extending in-kind benefits to all low-income.

Suggested Citation

  • Inez Hillel, 2020. "Holes in the Social Safety Net: Poverty, Inequality and Social Assistance in Canada," CSLS Research Reports 2020-06, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  • Handle: RePEc:sls:resrep:1912
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    File URL: http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls2020-06.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jasmin Thomas, 2016. "Trends in Low-Wage Employment in Canada: Incidence, Gap and Intensity, 1997-2014," CSLS Research Reports 2016-10, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    2. Kourtney Koebel & Dionne Pohler, 2019. "Expanding the Canada Workers Benefit to Design a Guaranteed Basic Income," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 45(3), pages 283-309, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Geranda Notten & Fatima Tuz Zohora & Charles Plante & Rachel Laforest, 2022. "Two decades of poverty reduction politics in Canada: Better for single parent families and single working age adults?," Working Papers 2203E Classification-I31,, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Poverty; Inequality; Social Assistance; Canada; Welfare; Living Standards; Earning Supplements; Low-Wage Workers;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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