June 15, 2011
The Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC) released data compiled by Statistics Canada confirming that the recent recession caused a dramatic increase in poverty in Alberta in 2009. Edmonton was particularly hard hit by this poverty spike. “According to Statistics Canada, the number of Albertans living below the Market Basket Measure of Low Income increased from 210,000 in 2008 to 353,000 in 2009, a 68% increase,” said John Kolkman, the ESPC’s Research Coordinator. “The number of Alberta children living in low income increased from 60,000 to 105,000 between 2008 and 2009, a 75% increase.”
Kolkman noted that the numbers for metro Edmonton are even worse. “One in eight people (12%) in Edmonton (144,000) lived in poverty in 2009. Almost one in five (19.2%) children lived in poverty. This translates into 51,000 children in our community.
“While the recent recession caused poverty to rise in most of the country, nowhere were the increases as dramatic as in our province or region,” Kolkman emphasized. "After a decade of slow declines in poverty rates, this sudden spike underlines the need for urgent action."
“Most other provinces are working with their communities on positive solutions involving real targets and timelines to reduce poverty. While the city and province deserve to be commended for their work on eliminating homelessness, this new data shows a broader effort to tackle poverty is needed as well.”
Kolkman called on all Alberta political parties and leadership candidates to make poverty reduction a top priority. “A good place to start would be investing in a refundable Alberta Child Benefit to supplement existing federal child tax benefits. Other provinces like Ontario and Manitoba are finding child tax benefits to be a very effective way to reduce child and family poverty,” he concluded.
John Kolkman, Research Coordinator
(780) 423-2031 x350
(587) 989-4442 (mobile)
Statistics Canada Analysis Report available here.