2009 Figures Show Growth Rate of Poverty in Ontario the Highest of All Regions in Canada since 2007 Election
As the public debate starts to warm up in Ontario for the October election, Statistics Canada’s release of the 2009 poverty rates yesterday point to the importance of firmly placing poverty on the provincial political agenda. Using the official poverty indicator adopted by Ontario as part of its poverty reduction strategy in 2008 (Low Income Measure After Tax – LIM-AT), Ontario’s poverty rate increased to 13.1% in 2009, a growth rate of 17% since the 2007 provincial election year (See Table following).
While Ontario’s poverty rate is slightly below the LIM-AT for Canada at 13.1%, the rate of Ontario’s poverty growth has increased the highest of all other regions of Canada and reached a total of 1,689,00 Ontarians in 2009, which is 277,000 more people living in poverty than in 2007.
While the rate of poverty growth by age group is lowest among children at 3.5%, Poverty Free Ontario notes that the proportion of working age adults (18 to 64 years old) living in poverty increased from 11.2% to 13.4%, a growth rate of 19.6%. Ontarians 65 years and older also show an extremely high poverty growth rate of 41.9% since 2007, although the overall proportion of seniors in poverty still remains below 9%.
The figures illustrate that the poverty levels in Ontario among unattached males (24.1%) and unattached females (25.0%) remain exceptionally high. The poverty growth rate among unattached men under 65 years old was 6.9%, off-setting the almost equivalent 7.2% rate of poverty decrease for unattached women under 65 over the two-year period.
Among the population living alone, however, unattached elderly women have fallen into poverty at the highest rate since 2007 (20.1%).
This first review of Statistics Canada’s poverty figures for 2009 indicates that, although measures to end child and family poverty need to be maintained and strengthened, the rate of poverty among working age adults, seniors and adults living alone is entrenched and growing rapidly. A comprehensive strategy to end poverty among all parts of the population is sorely needed to stem and reverse this direction.
It is critical that poverty eradication become a major issue in the Ontario provincial election.