“Considering how wealthy this country is, these rates of poverty are unacceptable. Not only are we not making progress; we are losing ground.”
Ottawa (17 September 2009)— Poverty rates in Canada— especially among children and the working-age population—are among the worst of 17 leading developed countries, according to the Conference Board’s annual ranking on Society indicators.
With more than 12 per cent of the working-age population living in poverty, Canada is in 15th place out of 17 countries—a “D” grade—ahead of only Japan and the United States. More than one in seven Canadian children lives in poverty—resulting in a 13th place ranking and a “C” grade.
“Considering how wealthy this country is, these rates of poverty are unacceptable. Not only are we not making progress; we are losing ground,” said Anne Golden, President and CEO of the Conference Board. “Poverty rates among children and working age people are rising.
“Poverty rates among seniors doubled between 1995 and 2005, which is disconcerting, because we take such pride in having conquered seniors’ poverty. And when the data for the current time period become available, we can expect this trend to persist.”
In the overall Society category—which measures 17 indicators in the areas of social cohesion, equity and self-sufficiency—Canada ranks ninth, an improvement of one place from last year. Canada also earns an overall ‘B’, which remains consistent with its grades in this category over the past two decades.
“This middle-of-the-pack ranking obscures our very poor performance on social cohesion indicators—especially assaults. Despite poor rankings on poverty and social cohesion, we moved up to ninth place due to higher grades on income mobility (the extent to which income levels are able to change across generations) and our acceptance of diversity,” said Golden.
The overall rankings have Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands all earning “A” grades, while the United States and Japan are the two “D” performers among the 17 countries ranked.
Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark were also among the top five performers in the economy category of How Canada Performs, indicating that a strong economy does not have to come at the expense of a strong social fabric.
“Canadians should care about social outcomes. In addition to caring about social justice, a strong social fabric ultimately contributes to sustainable economic prosperity,” said Golden.
How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada is the Conference Board’s annual benchmarking analysis, which the Board has conducted since 1996. The Conference Board assesses Canada’s performance against leading countries in the domains of Economy, Health, Society, Innovation, Environment, and Education and Skills.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE