Eh Sayers

Statistics Canada

Listen to the Eh Sayers podcast to meet the people behind the data and explore the stories behind the numbers. Join us as we meet with experts from Statistics Canada and from across the nation to ask and answer the questions that matter to Canadians. read less
Why Haven't We Ended Poverty Yet?
Oct 17 2022
Why Haven't We Ended Poverty Yet?
It used to be that Statistics Canada didn’t measure poverty. Not exactly. Poverty is complex, and there wasn't a single definition that everyone agreed on. So while StatCan did measure low income and other income inequality indicators, it didn't measure poverty per se. That is, until 2018, when the government chose to use the Market Basket Measure, or MBM, as Canada's Official Poverty Line. That means that the government now uses the MBM to track its poverty reduction targets.   But something strange happened during the pandemic: in 2020 the poverty rate fell. And it fell quite a bit. In fact, the poverty rate dropped in one year almost as much as it had in the four preceding years. But why? What happened? Will the poverty rate continue to fall? And what happens if it hits zero? How would health outcomes change? Education outcomes? People's general happiness and well-being?  Has there ever been a time and place in Canada where the poverty rate was zero? The closest may be the Mincome Experiment of the 1970s in Manitoba.   Many Canadians have never heard of this guaranteed income experiment, but it offers a glimpse at what eliminating poverty might look like.  To learn more, we spoke with Burton Gustajtis an economist from Statistics Canada, Evelyn Forget, a Professor of Economics and Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and Kevin Milligan, a Professor of Economics in the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.