About 1 in 10 people in Canada are living below the low-income cut-off, after taxes and government transfers are taken into account. More than 1.5 million women in Canada are living on a low income.Some groups have higher rates of poverty and are more likely than others to be poor. They include:
- First Nations women (living off reserve)—37%
- Métis and Inuit women (living in the provinces)—23%
- Visible minority women – 28%
- Women with disabilities – 33%
- Immigrant women – 20%
- Single mothers – 21%
- Children in female lone-parent families – 23% (Compared to 6% of children in two-parent families)
- Single senior women – 16%
In some parts of the country, there are appallingly high rates of poverty. For instance, 50% of status First Nations children in Canada live in poverty; that figure increases to 64% in Saskatchewan and 62% in Manitoba.
More than 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness annually, costing the economy $7 billion. On a given night, more than 35,000 Canadians are homeless. Women parenting on their own enter shelters at twice the rate of two-parent families. Domestic violence against women and children is a contributing factor to homelessness. When women become homeless, they are also at an increased risk of violence, sexual assault and exploitation.
Over 25 years, child and family poverty has increased by 25%; the number went from 15.8% of children in 1989 to 19.1% of children in 2012. More children and their families live in poverty as of 2012 than they did in 2000.
Compared to other developed countries, Canada’s poverty rate is higher than most—we rank 23rd out of 34 OECD countries. Canada’s poverty rate of 11.9% is slightly above the OECD average of 11%. As its poverty rate worsens, a country becomes less competitive, its people less healthy, and its society less equal.
Poverty in Canada costs federal and provincial governments billions of dollars every year. In Ontario, poverty cost the government between $10.4 billion and $13.1 billion in 2008.