Welfare in Canada Remains Far Below Most Socially Accepted Measures

of Adequacy and Can be Harder to Get Today Than 20 Years Ago:

National Council of Welfare Report 

© 2010 Brad Kempo B.A. LL.B.

Barrister & Solicitor


One of the richest countries in the world and welfare many cases is less than half of what it should be.  The results of democracy and capitalism? Or more evidence of systemic multi-decade prosperity theft where the rich, powerful and Chinese cut every budget corner to maximize personal asset accumulation and help the Beijing leadership fund its global imperialism on the backs of the country’s most vulnerable?  


What was going on twenty years ago?  In 1990 the Mulroney government was six years into its decade of federal rule and engaged in what?  Secretly advancing Chinese joint governance and furthering the other non-transparent Trudeau era policy of monopolizing the economy for the richest Canadians and their totalitarian partners who’d divided up the country’s prosperity amongst themselves and trickled down only enough to perpetuate the façade of democracy.  It therefore should be no surprise at the findings of the National Council of Welfare, an RCC invitee.   


Poverty line is being cracked, but not broken

Cross-Canada action needed as economy worsens

National Council of Welfare

December 10, 2010

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TORONTO -- While incomes for most Canadians on welfare were stuck far below the poverty line, some cracked that line in 2007, the newest report by the National Council of Welfare says. But tough economic times mean it will be tough to really break through, unless comprehensive, nationwide action is taken, says the advisory body to the federal government. 


Welfare Incomes, 2006 and 2007 looked at the circumstances of Canadians on welfare in all provinces and territories. The study by the National Council of Welfare found that in the case of the lone parent with a pre-school age child living in Quebec, welfare income for 2007 reached 100 per cent of the Market Basket Measure (MBM), a poverty line measurement that takes into account the cost of meeting basic needs in different parts of Canada.


In the case of the lone parent with a pre-schooler in Newfoundland and Labrador, welfare income slightly surpassed the MBM, at 103 per cent. 


"This information is considered significant because welfare incomes in Canada have historically been only a fraction of the real costs of survival and far below the poverty line", said John Rook, Chair of the Council.




At the same time, however, the report found that single employable people receive welfare incomes at less than half of the MBM in most provinces, far below any measure of poverty or decency. 


These incomes range from a low of 27 per cent of the MBM to a mere 67 per cent even in the best of cases. The Council is also concerned about the maze of rules and regulations that can trap welfare recipients and often discourages or even prohibits them from helping themselves out of poverty.


For example, people on welfare can keep little or none of their earnings if they can find some employment, which can discourage them from looking for work. Administrative rules vary throughout the country, but the new report details consistently how qualifying for welfare is a complicated, cumbersome and stigmatizing process. 


As the economy deteriorates, the National Council of Welfare is concerned that the number of Canadians facing hardship will likely grow.  In addition to welfare recipients, there are people who manage to leave the welfare system on their own, and others who can't qualify, have been cut off or won't sacrifice their assets or dignity to apply, Rook noted.  While some may get ahead, others may be trading one form of poverty for another, and that is not good news for Canada anytime, especially not now. 


"A comprehensive, pan-Canadian strategy to solve poverty is needed", Rook added. "It should have targets and timelines, a plan of action, accountability and measurable indicators."  Many partners must be involved. Canada is not unique. "For any nation to solve poverty or foster prosperity there must be government action, political will and a real recognition of the human face of poverty." 


Welfare design outdated, counterproductive, More effective solutions exist

National Council on Welfare

December 13, 2010

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OTTAWA -- A new report from the National Council of Welfare (NCW) shows that welfare can be harder to get today than 20 years ago. This means more people were forced into destitution to qualify for welfare in 2009, when the recession’s casualties were mounting. 


Canadians cannot receive welfare if their liquid assets, such as cash, money in bank accounts or even retirement savings, are over the limit set for their particular circumstances. The NCW report, Welfare Incomes 2009, illustrates many cases where these asset limits have eroded, whether by inflation or design. The limit can be as low as $50.


NCW Chairperson John Rook explained there is great variability across provinces, territories and individual situations, “but in general the combination of low asset limits, low earnings exemptions and low welfare rates—far below the poverty line—creates the perfect trap, especially for single people. The absence of shock absorbers and springs that help people help themselves is completely counterproductive.”


Getting a job is not the answer it should be. In some Canadian jurisdictions, there are no earnings exemptions at all and welfare benefits are reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount earned. In such cases, people on welfare are left financially worse off once work-related costs, such as transportation, are taken into account.


Rook said the NCW does not just want to see people exit welfare, but to escape poverty and to thrive.


Don Drummond, former Chief Economist of the TD Bank, commenting on the report, said “Canada's welfare system is a box with a tight lid. Those in need must essentially first become destitute before they qualify for temporary assistance. But the record shows once you become destitute you tend to stay in that state. You have no means to absorb setbacks in income or unexpected costs. You can't afford to move to where jobs might be or upgrade your skills." 


For those who do exit welfare, their finances do not necessarily improve because they lose welfare-related support, such as housing, health and dental care. The loss of this support can mean a major setback for these people, said Rook, and it is a large part of the disincentive barrier called ‘the welfare wall’. 


The report says more effective approaches can achieve better results and points to examples of innovation and potential. Manitoba’s new liquid asset policy of allowing $4000 per person, up to $16,000 for families, makes it a leader. Lone parents in some other provinces get welfare rates that at least reach the poverty line. Raising asset and earnings limits, bringing rates up and making regular adjustments for inflation can be a part of the solution, but alone are not enough.


“To solve the problems of social assistance, we must literally think—and act—outside the box,” said Rook, “in this case, outside the welfare system.” He indicated federal child benefits provide a source of stable income for families with children and play an important role in reducing welfare use and preventing poverty. Welfare Incomes 2009 focuses on the newer Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), which also operates outside the welfare system. It is available to welfare recipients with earnings and thus helps work pay. The WITB goes in the right direction, according to the report, but the amounts need to be increased to help welfare recipients, particularly singles, avoid or overcome the ‘welfare wall’.


The report calls for a comprehensive approach to both income support and the provision of appropriate services geared to income level rather than welfare status. The Council is encouraged by poverty reduction strategies that take this approach and is confident these kinds of investments will pay off for all Canadians.  


Bolder action needed to give Aboriginal children and youth a decent life

National Council on Welfare

September 18, 2007

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A new report released today concludes that bolder, more innovative government action is needed to give Aboriginal children and youth a decent chance in life. The report First Nations, Métis and Inuit Children and Youth: Time to Act … draw[s] attention … to the discrimination and poverty faced by many Aboriginal children and youth. 




In the Council's report, a two-fold picture of the prospects for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children emerges. One is a portrait of Aboriginal children and young people often still caught in a legacy of colonialism, racism and exclusion. Their developmental years are fraught with high rates of poverty and its related causes and consequences from health problems, poor housing and educational difficulties to astounding numbers of children taken into state care and of youth in trouble with the law or victims of violent crime.

































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