Signs of progress

We’re showing some signs of progress in decreasing poverty

When’s the last time you got a raise?

Figures released this week by Statistics Canada show it may have been in 2017, when median after-tax incomes across the country rose by 3.3 per cent to $59,800, after being stagnant for two years.

Of all provinces, B.C. had the biggest hike in after-tax income, with a 7.6 per cent increase from $57,700 in 2016 to $62,100 2017.

The agency attributed the increase to a mix of higher wages along with a bump in child benefit amounts brought in by the federal Liberals.

Wages themselves rose by 2.7 percent from 2016 to $92,400 in 2017. The slight hike in income was matched by a drop in the number of Canadians living below the poverty line. That number fell from 10.6 per cent in 2016 to 9.5 per cent, or 3.4 million Canadians, in 2017. Single-parent families saw the biggest decrease in poverty in 2017, with a drop from 29.2 per cent to 22.7 per cent.

The agency said the drop was a continuation of a five-year trend, and was linked to increases in child benefits amounts.

The StatsCan findings are only an indicator. The charitable organization Canada Without Poverty notes that some of the rental market rates used in the calculations are several years old and don’t reflect the true cost of living, but does acknowledge that two different measurement systems do reflect a decline in poverty.

The trends for Canada and B.C. matter, because all of us pay for the negative impacts of poverty. But it’s the close-to-home or right-at-home impacts that are felt each day. We can judge for ourselves if poverty reduction strategies are working and hope they can work better.

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