Common Front for Social Justice


The risk of being poor....

Statistics Canada followed a group of people for six years to measure fluctuations in the economic well being of the population. Fact: poverty has touched more families and individuals than is indicated by the annual poverty rates.

For the period from 1993 to 1998, more than a quarter of the entire Canadian population lived in poverty for at least one year.

Over seven million, or 29.5 per cent of Canadians lived in poverty for at least one of the six years from 1993 to 1998.

The years from 1993 to 1998 were years of strong economic growth. They were as well years of social decline, with cuts to unemployment insurance, for example. In general, wages stagnated. Low-paying jobs multiplied. Consequences? A job remains an indispensable condition to prevent having to live in poverty, but it is no longer a sufficient condition. Living as a couple with two incomes is just as necessary.

Individuals living alone, with one income, are the most vulnerable to poverty. Moreover, among these, the rate for single mothers is extremely high. According to statistics on post-income tax income, 75.8 per cent of single mothers lived in poverty for at least one of the six years, compared to 51.2 per cent of single persons, 14.4 per cent of couples without children, and 19.3 per cent of couples with children.

Wages that will allow one to live a decent life must become a priority for any government concerned about the common good.


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