Rate of Population Living in Poverty


Percent of families and individuals in low-income after-tax measure.

Poverty is the condition of a person who is deprived of the resources, means, choices and power necessary to acquire and maintain a basic level of living standards and to facilitate integration and participation in society.

Why This Matters

Poverty affects the strength and resilience of our community. When some of us are left behind, all of us are affected.

Nearly five million people in Canada currently live in poverty. Poverty is a widespread issue across the country, but vulnerable groups such as women, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, single parents, unattached individuals, Indigenous peoples, trans-gendered and non-binary individuals, and individuals from racialized communities are more susceptible. It is also worth noting that Indigenous Peoples (including First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples) are over-represented among the homeless population in virtually all urban centres in Canada.

According to the Bridges Out of Poverty framework, there are four principal factors that cause poverty:

  1. Behaviours of the individual (e.g. mental illness, family breakup, addiction)
  2. Human and social capital (e.g. Lack of employment and/or skills, declining neighbourhoods)
  3. Exploitation (e.g. Dominated groups for profit and/or raw materials)
  4. Political and economic structures (e.g. De-industrialization, corporate influence, economic disparity)

Understanding the unique risk factors, the impact of intersecting experiences and the needs of diverse groups will help tailor more effective interventions to address poverty. These interventions should focus on reducing and removing systemic barriers and promoting equal opportunity for all.

The effects of poverty can be expressed in different aspects of a person’s life, including food security, health, and housing. Factors such as precarious employment can contribute to and exacerbate issues related to poverty. Initiatives that support universal basic income have the power to lift people out of poverty and ensure that everyone has a sufficient income to meet their basic needs, and live with dignity, regardless of work status. Even where income supplements are provided, recipients continue to live below the most basic standard of living in Canada.

Measurement and Limitations

In 2016 in Peterborough CMA, 15.4 percent of people were living in poverty based on the Low-income Measure (after tax). The rate was down 0.4 percentage points from 2004 (15.8 percent) and down 0.1 percentage points from 2015 (15.5 percent). The 2016 figure was lower than the national average (16.8 percent) and lower than the Ontario average (17 percent).

Individuals are defined as having low income if their adjusted after-tax income falls below 50% of the total population median adjusted after-tax income. This adjustment distributes income among the members of the census family and takes into account the economies of scale present in larger families, the increasing number of people living on their own and the decline in family size over time.

Using a single measure of poverty can have its advantages and limitations. Internationally, the trend is toward using a suite of indicators because any one poverty measure offers, at best, an incomplete picture of poverty. Using additional income-based indicators or measures that speak to deprivation, alongside a deeper understanding on inter-sectional experiences can be helpful in determining the extent and character of poverty in a given community or country.

Different measures produce different stories – and they’re all important for good public policy.

Data Source

Statistics Canada

Last update: June 2019. Source is updated annually

For more information on local initiatives, visit Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network (PPRN).


Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D., Philip E. DeVol,  and Terie Dreussi Smith

Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/poverty-reduction/reports/strategy.html#h2.13

Canada Without Poverty. Retrieved from file:///Volumes/NO%20NAME/Canada%20Without%20Poverty%20Just%20the%20Facts%20_%20Canada%20Without%20Poverty.htm

Citizens for Public Justice – Making Sense of Poverty Measures. Retrieved from https://cpj.ca/making-sense-poverty-measures/

Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy – A backgrounder on poverty in Canada – accessed November 7, 2019


Rate of Population Living in Poverty in the Sustainable Development Goals

Click on the SDG to reveal more information

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Extreme poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 1990. While this is a remarkable achievement, one in five people in developing regions still live on less than $1.90 a day, and there are millions more who make little more than this daily amount, plus many people risk slipping back into poverty.

Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality.

Related Rate of Population Living in Poverty Targets


By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions