About 3.2 million Canadians, or 8.7 per cent of the population, lived below Canada’s Official Poverty Line in 2018, down from 9.5 per cent in 2017. (Black Press Media File)

Canadian poverty rates are declining, but many groups remain vulnerable

The number of children living in poverty cut in half between between 2017 and 2012

New figures from Statistics Canada show poverty declining in Canada, although several groups remain vulnerable.

About 3.2 million Canadians, or 8.7 per cent of the population, lived below Canada’s Official Poverty Line in 2018, down from 9.5 per cent in 2017. The federal government considers families living in poverty if they do not have enough income to purchase a specific basket of goods and services in their respective community.

On the positive side of the ledger, the number of children who live in poverty has remained at 8.2 per cent in 2018, little changed from 2017, but down from its peak of 15 per cent in 2012, when a million children lived in poverty, as defined by the federal government.

This said, the likelihood of children living in poverty depends on their family circumstances. More than 26 per cent of children living in single-parent families led by women fall within the poverty definition, compared to less than six per cent for those living in couple families.

RELATED: Province promises July policy changes to help break cycle of poverty in B.C.

The likelihood of seniors falling within the poverty definition also depends on the presence or absence of companions by way of marriage or family. About 1.7 per cent of seniors living in families are poor, with the overall share of poor seniors more than twice as high at 3.5 per cent. The rate of poor, unattached seniors stands at 7.9 per cent, more than twice the overall rate.

These new poverty figures coincide with new income figures that show the median after-tax income of Canadian families and singles at $61,400 in 2018, virtually unchanged from 2017.

Albertans pulled down the highest amount at $72,700 in 2018 — down more than $3,000 compared to 2014, when measured in 2018 dollars. The median after-tax income for British Columbia has been heading in the opposite direction, reaching $62,000 in 2018, up from $58,100 in 2014. This said, Alberta remains the only province in Canada with median after-tax incomes above $70,000.

British Columbia, meanwhile, joined Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as one of four provinces in the $60,000 bracket in 2017, when median after-tax income had jumped to $63,500 from $59,000.

The remaining provinces remain in the $50,000 bracket with Nova Scotia earning the least at $52,200.

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