In 2020, the federal government spent over $160 billion on COVID-19 pandemic response measures. These expenses were critical in supporting recently unemployed workers and affected businesses in a time of uncertainty. However, supports through programs like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) were not extended to those who had less attachment to the labour market, such as a large proportion of social assistance recipients.
This pattern of exclusion has continued with the more recent Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, which was created to support workers affected by new pandemic-related shutdowns, and not people who were already living in deep poverty before the pandemic.
The pandemic benefits are intended to support people during a specific time of crisis — but what about those who have been living with low and insecure incomes for decades? This report analyzes the welfare incomes of 53 example households, divided into four types, focusing here on unattached singles considered employable, as they are the most likely to be living in poverty.