The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory.
For the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance, visit the Welfare in Canada report.
Social assistance is the income program of last resort. It is intended for those who have exhausted all other means of financial support. Every province and territory has its own social assistance program(s), and no two are the same.
In Nunavut, social assistance is delivered under the Income Assistance Program. It is intended to help Nunavut families and individuals meet their basic needs when, for various reasons, including disability, illness, low income or periods of unemployment, they are unable to provide for themselves.
The Income Assistance Program provides basic benefits to residents 18 years of age and older for food, shelter, utilities, fuel, and municipal services. Extended benefits for clothing, incidental allowance (for seniors and people with disabilities), household furniture, security/damage deposits, emergency, and education are also paid to eligible individuals.
How many people claim social assistance?
In the 2022 calendar year, on average, there were about 5,100 cases (families and single adults) and about 10,800 beneficiaries (individual claimants, their partners, and dependent children) in Nunavut’s Income Assistance Program. Both numbers saw small increases in 2021, by almost 410 cases (9 per cent), and around 440 beneficiaries (4 per cent).
Over the longer term, the number of social assistance cases rose during the 2000s and early 2010s, but has been relatively stable in recent years until 2020, which saw a sharp increase in cases and a notable decrease in beneficiaries. This was followed by a significant decrease in the number of cases and beneficiaries in 2021, and then increases to both in 2022.
Figure 1NU – Yearly cases and beneficiaries of the Income Assistance Program in Nunavut, 2000 to 2022
What proportion of the population receives social assistance?
In 2022, on average, 27.9 per cent of people in Nunavut under 65 received the Income Assistance Program, which is over one in four. The proportion of recipients receiving this program has followed a similar pattern as the total number of recipients. On average, the proportion fluctuated over 40 per cent until 2017, after which it began to decline, reaching its lowest point in 2021.
Note: The total population under 65 is estimated on July 1 of a given year, whereas social assistance beneficiary data is a calendar year average (January to December).
Figure 2NU – Yearly beneficiaries of the Income Assistance Program as a proportion of the under-65 population in Nunavut, 2005 to 2022
Who is receiving social assistance?
In 2022, unattached singles were the majority of Income Assistance Program cases in Nunavut, with on average almost 57 per cent. Single parents were the second largest number of cases with just under 24 per cent.
Couples with children were on average the highest proportion of Income Assistance Program beneficiaries in 2022 with just about 38 per cent, followed by single parent households with under 34 per cent, then unattached singles with over 26 per cent.
On average, males were the majority of Income Assistance Program beneficiaries in 2022 with close to 53 per cent.
Figure 3NU – Cases of the Income Assistance Program by household in Nunavut, 2022
Figure 4NU – Yearly social assistance data for Nunavut, 1997 to 2022
Figure 5NU – Social assistance data by household for Nunavut, 2022
Figure 6NU - Social assistance data by gender for Nunavut, 2022
- The data reflects the average number of cases and beneficiaries over the calendar year (January 1 to December 31).
- Recipient statistics are not available for 2000 to 2004 and for 2014.
- The data for 2019 is an average for the months of January to October. The data in November and December has been omitted due to validity concerns.
- Income assistance data by household type and by gender was not available for 2021.
- Discrepancy between the number of cases and beneficiaries for data by household type is due to client movement. When a client relocates within the territory, a different case is sometimes made.
- Click here for more information about how the data is gathered