Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Canada's Poverty of Poverty Measurement

It isn't just astounding to the average Canadian that their country doesn't have an official poverty line, it's astounding that no one, including the major political parties, is doing anything about it.

Below are excerpts from governments, organizations, and charities that highlight the need for Canada to finally create an official poverty line:

"The poverty line is first and foremost a research tool that social scientists need to identify the extent of an important social problem." - The Fraser Institute, 2001 

"Unlike the United States and some other countries, Canada has no official, government-mandated
poverty line
." - Backgrounder, Government of Nova Scotia, 2008

"Once governments establish a definition, Statistics Canada will endeavour to estimate the number of people who are poor according to that definition... In the meantime, Statistics Canada does not and cannot measure the level of "poverty" in Canada. For many years, Statistics Canada has published a set of measures called the low income cut-offs. We regularly and consistently emphasize that these are quite different from measures of poverty. They reflect a well-defined methodology which identifies those who are substantially worse off than the average. Of course, being significantly worse off than the average does not necessarily mean that one is poor." - Ivan Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Canada, 1997

"Although Statistics Canada takes pains to stress that it is not a “poverty line”, poverty in Canada is most commonly measured by using Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut-Off (LICO)." - Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives, 2007

 "Statistics Canada has clearly and consistently emphasized, since their publication began over 25 years ago, that the LICOs are quite different from measures of poverty." - Low Income Cut-offs, Stats Canada, 1999

"Canada, unlike the United States, has no official poverty line but many researchers have used Statistics Canada’s Low-Income Cut-Offs (LICOs) as poverty thresholds. The use of LICOs as poverty lines has a number of serious flaws." - Fraser Institute, 2001
"The Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) [is] a calculation that results in higher figures than found in many comparable economies; Canada does not have an official poverty line." - CIA Factbook

"In its 1998 observations and again in 2006, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights commented that the absence of an official poverty line in Canada makes it difficult to hold Canadian governments accountable... Despite the Committee’s recommendation that Canada officially establish a poverty line, the federal government has yet to endorse an official measurement of poverty." - Research Paper, Library of Parliament, 2008

"Canada also lacks an official definition of poverty, making it difficult to understand the severity of the situation, monitor the well-being of children and guide effective investments." - UNICEF, 2012

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