Poverty in Canada has been a long debate on the political and social fronts of the community. According to 2005 reports, an estimated over ten percent of the Canada population are living in poverty. Of much concern is the ever increasing rate of homelessness experienced in the nation over the past two decades (Lee, 2000). However, numerous reports have indicated that the measure of poverty in Canada is negated by the government’s failure to have a definite method of measuring poverty levels.
True to the letter, Canadians are current faced with the debate on whether absolute or relative measure of poverty is the best in determining poverty levels in the nation. Nevertheless, numerous measures have been put in place to promote poverty reduction strategies in many provinces of Canada. In addition, non-governmental organizations are increasingly engaging in community based poverty reduction projects. This paper is written as a discussion on poverty in Canada.
The author will in particular look at the statistics of poverty in the nation, how poverty is measured in Canada, and the current poverty reduction measures being implemented. Poverty in Canada Poverty in Canada has been an historical issue for many centuries. According to available statistical information, poverty in the nation remains a swing between economic growth and recession as well as numerous evolving initiatives by the government to assist low income members of the community (Raphael, 2002). This information still indicates the emergence of organized assistance to the poor in the twentieth century.
True to available literature, most of the poor assistance programs are generally funded by the church. This is evident from the catholic encyclopedia, which funds approximated over eighty seven hospitals in the Canadian nation catering for the poor members of the community (Surhone, 2009). On the other hand, the government has been on the forefront in addressing poverty issues among its citizens. Such can be historically evident from the establishment of the Canada’s welfare state after the great depression as was initiated by Bennett and Mackenzie King.
Nevertheless, the problem of poverty in Canada is still a major threat to the sustainable social and economic development of the Canadians. From a 2003 statistical reports, an estimated poverty rate of over 10% has been reported (Raphael, 2002). This percentage has been confirmed by the central intelligence agency as an official value although the absolute rate is undoubtedly expected to be higher. However, the Canadian federal government seems not to agree with this value and have published a current poverty rate to have gone down for the past sixty years to a value less than five percent (Raphael, 2002).
This value was determined on the basis of the basic needs poverty measure and deviates very much from what is perceived to be real. Many organizations top on the list being the Fraser institute have not appreciated this value and depict the Canadian federal government as extremely exaggerative. The above contradiction between the government and these conservative organizations has been compounded by the fact that the Canadian federal government has failed to endorse any metric measure of poverty including but not limited to the low income cut off.
Altogether, the Canadian federal government seems to have realized the impact of poverty to the society and have employed several measures to reduce it. This is evidenced by the continued decline of poverty in the recent time 1996 when recession which was marked with low income rates. For instance, statistics shows that the less fortunate people such as the physically disabled, mentally ill, and single parent mothers are experiencing higher income rates. Students and recent immigrants have at least higher or average low income rate hence they can afford the basic needs. Measures of poverty in Canada
The establishment of an official poverty measuring system in America has been marked with many controversies top on the list being the fact that politicians have failed to agree on a precise definition of poverty (Groot-Maggett, 2002). The have therefore ignored the interest of statistics Canada of defining poverty by it unable and unworthy to determine what is necessary to be a basic necessity. The government and some research institutes use different methods to estimate the extent of poverty of poverty in Canada. However, a debate has emerged on the supremacy of absolute and relative methods of measuring the depth of poverty.
The author of this paper discuses both the absolute and the relative measures of poverty. One of the absolute measures of poverty is the basic needs poverty measure. According to libertarian Fraser institute’s economist Chris sarlo, the basic needs poverty measure was conceived to be a poverty threshold (Groot-Maggett, 2002). According to this basic needs approach of poverty, basic needs are those things which are required by people for their physical goods over a long time depending on the current living standards of that particular society.
This measure was designed based on different information obtained fro various sources which include but not limited to statistics Canada. An extensive assessment of how much a person can spend in the house was established to give this measure the originality and substance it deserves. This was accomplished by examining the cost of various things which where perceived to meet the above definition of basic need. This included food, clothing, shelter, personal care, transport and communication for different types of societies.
Based on the above research and by putting inconsideration the family size, the number of families which had insufficient income to cater for those necessities were determined. Earlier on, the amount of income required to cater for the basic necessities was determined on the basis of gross income which was inclusive of old age pensions and employment insurances. Currently however, the net income has been used the financial ability of a family to sustain its basic requirements (Lee, 2000).
A worthy noting point is that this net income is based on reports which can be marked with error such as unreported and underground means of earning income. Based on the basic needs poverty measure, have gone down with an appreciatable rate to a value less than 5% which is estimated to represent less than 2million Canadians. Another absolute measure of poverty is termed the market basket measure. This was designed and established in 2003 by the Canadian government through its department of human resources and skills development (Raphael, 2002).
The market basket measure of poverty accommodated a wider range of basic needs than the basic need measure. For instance, it put in consideration the community size and location for at least 48 communities in Canadians and then estimated the sufficient amount of income required to meet those needs. This measure is still understudy and is expected to cover more than 400 communities. The main notable relative property measures is the income distribution measure commonly known as income inequality metrics, gives information regarding the variation of income in a given community.
Its effectiveness is evidenced by the fact that when a given group of people increases their income rate then there is a high probability of those earning less to feel an increase in their income. Another often quoted as a relative measure of poverty is the low income cut off which has received many critics from the statistics Canada and they have disregarded it as not a measure of poverty by saying that it does not give reliable and accurate fingers. The low income cut off measure was based on the gross income but the statistics Canada have given reports of both the gross and the net income (Marseken, Timpledon, & Surhone, 2009).
This measure was designed to give the lowest mark which when exceeded; a family will have to spend much to cater for basic needs such as food shelter and clothing. Recent results based on this measure showed that approximate of 9. 4% lives below the low the current threshold of 63% of the total family income. Poverty reduction measures Like any other country in the world which is conscious of the well being of its people, the Canadian government through the provinces has employed several measures to eliminate poverty and a gain to reduce its impact to the people. Top on the list of these important measures is reduction of tax burdens.
This is evidenced by the progressive income tax system in Canada which has resulted to a difference of about 5% between the gross and net low income cut off (Pohl, 2002). Government social programs cannot go unmentioned here because of their importance and effectiveness in succumbing poverty. The Canadian government has come up with a broad range of social programs aimed at helping the law income people. These programs include but not limited to old age security and employment insurance which have seen through the reduction of chances of falling to poverty of people who were rendered unemployed.
In addition to this, government funds have been channeled to subsidizing education and public health with an aim of improving the living standards of people with low income (Raphael, 2002). Another government measure which cannot escape this discussion is the introduction of the minimum wage laws. The constitution of Canada includes the minimum wage laws, which even though they vary for different provinces, they have confirmed there effectiveness in standardizing wages by making sure that people with law income are not exploited (Raphael, 2002).
The minimum set minimum wage is $8. 00 per hour although it can go a bit down for unskilled workers. Conclusion In conclusion therefore, poverty is not well defined in Canada because of the failure of politicians to agree on the necessities which should be basic. However, the above discussion shows that a considerable number of people in Canada are poor and lacks the basic needs a defined by the basic needs measure of poverty. In addition to this, the government’s effort to eliminate poverty as well as reducing its impacts cannot fail to be appreciated.
This is it has invested sufficiently in social programs and in the enforcement of the minimum law wages which have seen through the reduction of poverty and its effect to the people. It also safeguard the less fortunate people and ensured that the poor people are not exploited or robed there right of living a good life. References Groot-Maggetti, G. (2002). A measure if Poverty in Canada. A Guide to the Debate about Poverty. Retrieved August 1, 2010, from http://action. web. ca/home/cpj/attach/A_measure_of_poverty. pdf Lee, K. (2000). Urban Poverty in Canada: Statistical Profile. Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://www.ccsd. ca/pubs/2000/up/ Marseken, S. , Timpledon, M. , & Surhone, L. (2009). Poverty in Canada: Poverty, Minimum Wage, Measuring Poverty, Income Taxes in Canada, Economic History of Canada, Great Depression in Canada, Basic Needs, Economic Inequality.
Toronto: Betascript Publishers. Pohl, R. (2002). Poverty in Canada. Retrieved August 1, 2010, from http://www. streetlevelconsulting. ca/homepage/homelessness2InCanada_Part2. htm Raphael, D. (2002). Poverty, Income Inequality, and Health in Canada. Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://www. povertyandhumanrights. org/docs/incomeHealth. pdf