1. Poverty is the failure of the
Massive increases in unemployment in
Canada in recent years have not resulted from personal
inadequacy. Many workers have lost their jobs for reasons
beyond their control and cannot find work because it is not
available. Many people are on welfare because they are
temporarily unable to provide for themselves, often due to
some personal or economic crisis beyond their
2. The poor do not want to
The fact is that most poor people do
work full or part-time; over 60% of those heading poor
families, over 70% of poor unattached individuals. If we
look at the people who are dependent on welfare, we see that
about 37% are children. Another 16% are single mothers, many
still caring for young children. If we look at the number of
welfare cases, we find that about 24% are headed by people
considered to be disabled.
3. Poor people don't pay
In Ontario, poor people pay about $160
million in income taxes. Having to pay income tax starts far
below the poverty line. A single mother with two children in
1991 started paying federal tax when her income reached
$11,601; a single person without dependents was taxed at an
income level of $6, 532. Although people on welfare don't
pay income tax on their social assistance, they still pay
sales tax, GST and property taxes. Refundable credits reduce
the cost of tax, but don't cover the total tax
4. Welfare rates are too
All welfare rates are well below the
poverty line. The highest rates are still 20% below; the
lowest are 76% below the poverty line.
5. Poor people need to be taught
basic life skills like budgeting.
Many who live far below the poverty
line must spend all or most of their income on basic needs.
Anyone who manages to feed and clothe a family on a very
limited income already has budgeting skills.
6. The welfare system is rife with
cheating and fraud.
A study conducted by a national
auditing firm estimated fraud to be in the range of 3% of
the Ontario welfare budget. We have reason to believe that
this estimate can be generally applied to other parts of the
country. On the other hand there are estimates that income
tax fraud is in the order of 20%.
7. Poor families are poor because
they have too many children.
Most poor families have none, one or
two children. Only 15% have 3 or more children under
8. We cannot afford the social
programs needed to eliminate poverty.
According to per capita Gross Domestic
Product (GDP), Canada is more prosperous than all European
countries. However, Canada spends less on social security
and other income support measures (including UI and welfare)
as a share of the GDP than most European countries. Western
European countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands,
and Sweden with economies not very different from ours have
refused to tolerate high levels of family poverty. These
countries provide more income and employment supports to
help families with children.
9. All children in Canada are
assured a decent start in life.
Recent studies show strong links
between poverty and poor health and poor achievement at
school. While infant mortality rates for all income groups
are about half of what they were twenty years ago, according
to the 1986 census the rate for the lowest income group was
still about double that of the highest. Children in poor
families are more likely to suffer chronic health problems
than other children. They are almost twice as likely to drop
out of school.
and realities about children of lone
1. There are many single teen
While more teenaged mothers now choose
to raise their children themselves rather than give up their
babies for adoption, the number of teen mothers in Canada is
relatively small. Only 20, 000 &emdash; less than one
per cent of all children &emdash; lived with a teen
mother in 1994. Overall, the pregnancy rates and birth rates
among teens are lower now than they were in the early
2. Lone-parent families have more
children than two-parent families.
The opposite is true. The average
number of children in lone parent families was 1.1 in 1995,
compared to 1.4 in two-parent families.
3. All lone-parent mothers are on
Over half the children under 18 years
of age who lived in a lone-parent family had a parent in the
labour force: 46% lived with a full-time job holder and
another 15% lived with a part-time job holder. However, lone
parents with young children do rely more heavily on income
support programs. More than half the children under age 12
who lived in lone-parent families had a parent who was not
in the labour force.
* Source: National Anti-Poverty
* Source: Canadian Council on Social