Please Note: These facts have not been updated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please consult the two links provided at the bottom of this page for more recent updates and news about poverty in Canada and BC.
Regardless of Canada being an extremely wealthy country 1 in 7 (or 4.9 million) Canadians live in poverty. In fact, poverty is increasing for youth, young families, immigrants and ethnic minorities in this country.
Poverty in Indigenous groups remains extremely high, both on and off reserves. Canada officially ranks 13th on the UN Human Development Index. However, the rate of poverty within Indigenous communities (25%) remains much higher than the national poverty rate (8.7%).
- 1 in 5 children live in poverty.
- 1 in 2 Indigenous children live in poverty.
- Among major Canadian cities, Vancouver has the highest rate of poverty at 20.4%, followed by Toronto at 20.0% in 2018.
- Every month 840,000 people in Canada use food banks; 34.1% of those relying on food banks are children.
- Marginalized groups: members of society that are especially vulnerable to poverty include persons with disability, single mothers, aboriginals, elderly individuals and racialized communities.
- The Canadian Gini coefficient, which marks income inequality, is 0.321 and ranks 36th in the world.
- 10.4% of employees earn a minimum wage.
- 3 million Canadian households are precariously housed (living in unaffordable, below standards, and/or overcrowded housing conditions).
- 1 in 3 Canadian adults with mental illness live in poverty.
- 11.2% Canadians have unmet health needs.
- – While the median hourly wage for men is $26, the median hourly wage for women is $22
- Poverty costs Canada as a whole between $72 billion and $84 billion annually
In British Columbia:
- Despite the overall wealth in our province, 15.3% of the population live in poverty (2017 BC Child Poverty Report Card)
- BC’s child poverty rate is higher than the national average and stands at 1 in 5. Almost half of children from single-parent households lived in poverty (2017 BC Child Poverty Report Card)
- In 2016, 103,464 British Columbians used food banks, 32.2% of whom were children. (Hunger Count 2016)
Yet, British Columbia remains the only province in Canada without a Poverty Reduction Plan!
For more facts and information about possible solutions to end poverty in British Columbia as well as Canada, please visit: