What does it mean to be poor in Canada? Does it mean having to rely on food banks and payday loans to make ends meet? Does it mean struggling to afford warm clothes for the winter? What about having to live far away from work or school?
A new, two-part study from the Angus Reid Institute examines the state of poverty in Canada by looking at lived experiences, rather than income, with some striking results.
This first chapter of the report finds fully one-in-five Canadian adults (21%) say an inability to afford dental care has been a chronic problem for them in their lives. One-in-six are routinely unable to afford new clothes or good-quality groceries, and one-in-seven have struggled with inadequate housing – spaces that are too small or too far from work or school – throughout their lives.
Looking at these experiences in aggregate, ARI researchers are able to sort the Canadian population into four groups: The Struggling (16% of the total population), those On the Edge (11%), those who are Recently Comfortable (36%), and those who are Always Comfortable (37%). As their names suggest, the Struggling are facing financial challenges that are negatively affecting their quality of life, and those On the Edge are not far from joining them.
Between these two groups, more than one-quarter of the Canadian population (27%) could be described as experiencing notable financial hardship today.