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Understanding the State of Poverty

Poverty Awareness Month

Written by: Lauren Anderson

Edited by: Jacqueline Cheung

Dear CCP readers,

Welcome back to the CCP blog! As January comes to an end, we would like to dedicate this blog post to poverty awareness since January is Poverty Awareness Month. The number of people experiencing poverty around the world is high. Raising awareness about the current state of poverty is important to us as an organization dedicated to advocating on matters relating to homelessness for youth in Canada. One in five children lives in extreme poverty around the globe, which is devastating, and also contributes to the increased life cycle of poverty experienced from youth to adulthood.

According to the United Nations (UN), 10% of the world’s population (or around 734 million people) lived on less than $1.90/day in just 2015. For most of us, this is completely unimaginable and unfathomable. As a larger society, we have to do better to support those around us who live in these types of conditions.

If you would like to learn more information regarding the current state of homelessness in Canada and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), welcome! If you are returning for more information about the particular challenges faced by youth experiencing homelessness and those with animal companions, welcome back! If you are new to our blog, welcome to the community and thank you for your interest in learning more about issues regarding the homelessness crisis in Canada and beyond - you are one step closer to becoming a changemaker in your community, and you are in great company.

What is the definition of poverty?

The most basic definition of poverty is, “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” However, the United Nations (UN) asks that the definition be expanded, as those who experience poverty deal with much more than lack of property or income. The UN explains that poverty also includes, “manifestations of hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of decision-making.” This definition of poverty is all-encompassing of its full reality. Many of these truths listed by the UN are often forgotten, but it is important that all aspects of poverty are recognized in order to find solutions from all directions.

The Canadian Poverty Institute also offers a thorough understanding of poverty with a three-dimensional perspective of material, social, and spiritual poverty.

  1. Material poverty: the lack of access or skills to acquire sufficient material and financial resources to thrive

  2. Social poverty: isolation; and the lack of formal/informal support necessary to be resilient in times of crisis or change

  3. Spiritual poverty: people lacking meaning or purpose in their lives

The incorporation of spiritual poverty is powerful in that it reminds the public of the dehumanization that occurs for people experiencing poverty. To lack a sense of self, meaning, or purpose in life is harmful to our human experience.

Poverty in Canada

Although Canada is a developed country with the tenth highest GDP (gross domestic product) in the world, there is a considerably high rate of poverty throughout the country. Over 14% of Canadians are within a low income class, and in 2011, 1 in 7 people in Canada were living in poverty. The poverty rate has dropped double-fold in the past 10 years, but there is still much more that can be done to provide security for those facing homelessness and poverty in Canada.

In 2018, the Canadian government released a strategy to reduce poverty by 50% by 2030. There are 12 indicated measures of poverty that they are analyzing including, food insecurity, housing needs, youth employment, education and training. Part of this strategy is aimed towards creating better outcomes for Canadians through intentional actions.

Some of the actions already taken include, a child benefit for low to middle income families with children, a tax credit that helps low-income workers, and Canada’s national housing strategy. We have discussed this housing strategy in another blog post regarding the state of homelessness in Canada. The Canada child benefit is a tax-free monthly payment for families with children under the age of 18. Families receive payment based on the number of children in the family, the age of the children, the marital status of the parents, and the adjusted family net income. The tax credit for low-income workers is called the Canada workers benefit and is a refundable tax credit to help supplement earnings for workers receiving a low income. It also helps incentivize Canadians experiencing homelessness or poverty to work. There are efforts made to alleviate the current state of poverty in Canada.

What can be done to alleviate the current state of poverty?

To alleviate the current state of poverty, there needs to be a worldwide social and financial commitment. The UN has declared that ending poverty is one of the first Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be met before 2030. SDG 1 proclaims: “End poverty in all its forms everywhere.” Although this is a large challenge, it is possible through policy change, social awareness, education, sustainable development, social integration, and an inclusive/equitable mindset.

World Vision Canada is a Canadian organization dedicated to global relief and advocacy. They have created eight effective solutions to alleviate poverty:

  1. Educate children

  2. Provide clean water

  3. Ensure basic health care

  4. Empower a girl or woman

  5. Improve child nutrition

  6. Support environmental programs

  7. Reach children in conflict

  8. Prevent child marriage

These solutions can be effective because they each address different common causes of poverty, and it is evident that a multi-faceted approach is needed. Our organization, specifically, focuses on educating children. We believe it is important that every child has equal access to education and that education around the globe is equitable for children of all income groups.

The CCP team strives to educate on matters relating to homelessness and partner with other organizations that are providing resources to youth facing homelessness.

As tax season approaches, please consider donating to our organization and contributing to our cause. For all donations over $25, you will receive a tax receipt.

Thank you for reading our blog! Feel free to leave a comment with your feedback and/or insights to help us enrich the quality of future posts and cater to the interests of our community of changemakers.

- The CCP Team


  1. Agency, C. R. (2020, July 3). Government of Canada. Canada Workers Benefit (formerly the Working Income Tax Benefit) - Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  2. Agency, C. R. (2021, May 17). How much you can get. How much can you get - Canada child benefit (CCB) - Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  3. Canada economy ranking: By GDP and 60 other indicators. (2020, May 11). Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  4. Canada, E. and S. D. (2022, July 20). Government of Canada. Guaranteed Income Supplement – Overview - Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  5. Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Poverty definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  6. Poverty in Canada. Canadian Poverty Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  7. Poverty: UN global compact. Poverty | UN Global Compact. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  8. United Nations. (n.d.). Ending poverty. United Nations. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  9. United Nations. (n.d.). Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere - united nations sustainable development. United Nations. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  10. Wolfe, D. (2021, November 3). 8 world-changing solutions to poverty. World Vision Canada. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

  11. World vision canada. World Vision Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

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