Welfare in Canada, 2021

Using data provided by provincial and territorial government sources, Welfare in Canada, 2021 describes the components of welfare incomes, how they have changed from previous years, and how they compared to low-income thresholds.

Access the report here

During the launch event, the report’s authors, Jennefer Laidley and Mohy Tabbara, broke down the latest welfare income data from all 13 provinces and territories and presented the key takeaways.

Recorded on November 24, the Welfare in Canada, 2021 launch event started with a brief presentation of the report’s key findings, followed by a panel discussion.

Presenters:

  • Jennefer Laidley, Consultant; co-author of Welfare in Canada
  • Mohy Tabbara, Policy Advisor, Maytree; co-author of Welfare in Canada

Moderator:

  • Garima Talwar Kapoor, Director, Policy and Research, Maytree

Download the presentation

Watch the event recording

 



Income support, inflation, and homelessness

A good deal of attention has been paid to the question of what these high rates of inflation in housing and food costs mean for Canadians. Much of the concern has focused on the implications for middle-income Canadians hoping to purchase a home, while squeezing their household budgets. But what do these rates of inflation mean for Canadians with very low income? For them, high rates of inflation in the price of food and shelter mean more than having to delay thoughts of homeownership. For them, the threats are considerably more serious.



Social assistance summaries

The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory. It was established by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy to maintain data previously published by the federal government as the Social Assistance Statistical Report. The data is provided by provincial and territorial government officials.



Welfare in Canada, 2020

Maytree released the 2020 edition of the Welfare in Canada report. For each province and territory, this report provides data and analysis on the total welfare income that households receiving social assistance would have qualified for in 2020, including COVID-19 pandemic-related supports.

Welfare in Canada is a series that presents the total incomes of four example households who qualify for social assistance benefits in each of Canada’s provinces and territories in a given year.

Welfare in Canada, 2020 looks at the maximum total amount that a household would have received over the course of the 2020 calendar year, assuming they had no other source of income and no assets. Some households may have received less if they had income from other sources, while some households may have received more if they had special health- or disability-related needs.

The report looks at:

  • Social assistance program eligibility tests for assets and earned income;
  • How welfare incomes vary across Canada;
  • The components of welfare incomes in each province and territory;
  • Long-term changes in welfare incomes in each province and territory; and
  • The adequacy of welfare incomes in each province compared to poverty and low-income thresholds.

In addition, this year the report includes a new section that looks at the adequacy of welfare incomes in each province over time, an analysis that hearkens back to past reports prepared by the National Council of Welfare. Also, please note that this report measures the adequacy of welfare incomes relative to both the Market Basket Measure (MBM) – Canada’s Official Poverty Line – and the Deep Income Poverty threshold (MBM-DIP), which is equivalent to 75 per cent of the MBM. This analysis will replace the low-income threshold comparisons in future reports. We hope these additions will be helpful for those using the report.

In each jurisdiction, the total welfare income for which a household is eligible depends on its specific composition. For illustrative purposes, this resource focuses on the welfare incomes of four example household types:

  1. Unattached single considered employable;
  2. Unattached single with a disability;
  3. Single parent with one child, age two; and
  4. Couple with two children, ages ten and 15.



Who Doesn’t File a Tax Return? A Portrait of Non-Filers

The Canada Revenue Agency administers dozens of cash transfer programs that require an annual personal income tax return to establish eligibility. Approximately 10–12 percent of Canadians, however, do not file a return; as a result, they will not receive the benefits for which they are otherwise eligible.

In this article, we provide the first estimates of the number and characteristics of non-filers. We also estimate that the value of cash benefits lost to working-age non-filers was $1.7 billion in 2015. Previous literature suggests either a rational choice model of tax compliance (in which the costs of filing are weighed against its benefits) or a more complex behavioural model.

Our study has important consequences for policy-making in terms of the administrative design and fiscal costs of public cash benefits attached to tax filing, the measurement of household incomes, and poverty rates.



Food Insecurity amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Food Charity, Government Assistance, and Employment

To mitigate the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the federal government has implemented several financial assistance programs, including unprecedented funding to food charities. Using the Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 2, the demographic, employment, and behavioural characteristics associated with food insecurity in April–May 2020 was examined. One-quarter of job-insecure individuals experienced food insecurity that was strongly associated with pandemic-related disruptions to employment income, major financial hardship, and use of food charity was found, yet the vast majority of food-insecure households did not report receiving any charitable food assistance. Increased financial support for low-income households would reduce food insecurity and mitigate negative repercussions of the pandemic.



Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change

There is a growing "colour-coded" inequity and disparity in Ontario that has resulted in an inequality of learning outcomes, of health status, of employment opportunity and income prospects, of life opportunities, and ultimately of life outcomes. Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change believes that it is only by working together that we can make the needed change for all of our shared benefit

These fact sheets provide data to help understand the racialization of poverty in Ontario. 



Economic Security Programs Reduce Overall Poverty, Racial and Ethnic Inequities

Economic security programs such as Social Security, food assistance, tax credits, and housing assistance can help provide opportunity by ameliorating short-term poverty and hardship and, by doing so, improving children’s long-term outcomes. Over the last half-century, these assistance programs have reduced poverty for millions of people in the United States — including children, who are highly susceptible to poverty’s ill effects.

At the same time, barriers to opportunity, including discrimination and disparities in access to employment, education, and health care, remain enormous and keep poverty rates much higher for some racial and ethnic groups than others. While government programs have done much to narrow these disparities in poverty, further progress will require stronger government efforts to reduce poverty and discrimination and build opportunity for all.



Northwest Territories Income Assistance Handbook

The Income Assistance Program provides Financial Assistance to Northerners to help meet basic and enhanced needs. The program encourages and supports greater self-reliance to improve the quality of lives.

This plain language handbook is for people who may want to play for Income Assistance. It provides information on:

  • The program
  • Who is eligible
  • How to apply or appeal

The handbook also contains helpful contact information on the following resources in the Northwest Territories including:

  • other income security programs
  • health and medical resources
  • renters rights
  • federal disability, seniors, and family supports

 



Hunger Lives Here: Risks and Challenges Faced by Food Bank Clients During COVID-19

This report provides quantitative and qualitative data about the experience of hunger and poverty in Toronto during COVID-19. Based on phone surveys with over 220 food bank clients in May and June 2020 and an analysis of food bank client intake data, the report demonstrates that COVID-19 has led to increased reliance on food banks. The rate of new clients accessing food banks has tripled since the pandemic began. Among new clients, 76% report that they began accessing food banks as a result of COVID-19 and the associated economic downturn.



Your rights at work

This publication explains a worker’s legal rights under the Employment Standards Act regarding hours of work and pay, overtime, breaks, holidays and vacations, and leave from your job. It also has information about how to make a claim against an employer.



Legal Resources Catalogue: Free legal information

This resource provides a list of free legal information resources produced by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO).



Locked down, not locked out: An eviction prevention plan for Ontario

Ontario tenants who have fallen behind on their rent because of COVID-19 will need provincial help to stay housed when the current eviction ban is lifted. A new analysis calls for targeted rent relief, a gradual easing of the eviction ban, and a reintroduction of rent controls.



Social Assistance Summaries

The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory. It was established by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy to maintain data previously published by the federal government as the Social Assistance Statistical Report. The data is provided by provincial and territorial government officials.



Defining disability for social assistance in Ontario: Options for moving forward

Narrowing the definition of disability used by the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) could have serious implications. Improving the program’s assessment process would yield better results for applicants, Ontario's social safety net, and the government.

This report explores the role of ODSP, the risks of narrowing the definition of disability, models of disability assessment from other jurisdictions, and alternative ways that the government could reform the program. Most importantly, the paper recommends that the Ministry focus on improving ODSP’s initial application process. A simplified assessment system would save time and money for applicants, medical professionals, legal clinics, adjudicators, and the Social Benefits Tribunal. These savings should be reinvested back into social assistance.



Benefits and credits toolkit



Benefits and credits provide income and financial support for many individuals. This toolkit contains information on common tax credits and benefits, benefits for specific populations, and practitioner resources including case studies and information on identification documentation for accessing benefits.

We are grateful to West Neighbourhood House in Toronto, Ontario for their contribution in the development of the practitioner resources in this toolkit and to Momentum in Calgary, Alberta for their content consultation support.

Worksheet resources in this toolkit are available as fillable PDFs. Please open with Adobe Acrobat Reader for full functionality.

Prosper Canada launched the Benefits wayfinder on January 19, 2022. 

Latest update on April 8, 2022: The toolkit is now available in French.