Statistics Canada rejigs low-income stats, showing growing poverty gap

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Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — An updated picture of poverty across the country prior to the COVID-19 pandemic is showing that those living well below the low-income threshold had fallen further behind.

The figures from Statistics Canada show the average “poverty gap,” which measures how far people on average fall below the official poverty line, grew from 31.8 percent in 2015 to 33.4 percent in 2018.

Though during the same period, the percentage of people living the farthest under the poverty line, defined as earning 75 percent below the marker, declined from 7.4 percent to 5.4 percent.

The figures are different from those released earlier this year, after Statistics Canada updated how it calculated the poverty threshold.

The agency says its recalculated figures suggest fewer people in Canada are living on low incomes, but those still in poverty have not seen their situations improve.

Expert say the pandemic may widen the poverty gap this year, with much riding on the federal government’s plan to move millions of Canadians onto a new set of income-support measures.