Media release

Latest Welfare in Canada report finds depth of poverty worse in 2021, after 2020 bump

Published on 23/11/2022

Today, Maytree is releasing the 2021 edition of the Welfare in Canada report, which breaks down the welfare incomes for social assistance recipients over the calendar year in all Canadian provinces and territories. This edition shows the negative impacts of the loss of pandemic benefits and the rising rate of inflation on the incomes of people living in poverty.

In 2021, welfare incomes fell in more than half of the households examined across all provinces and territories. Although incomes increased in 14 households across the country, they rose higher than the rate of inflation only in six cases.

The data also shows the adequacy of welfare incomes declined in almost 80 per cent of the households examined in the provinces, after increasing in all cases in 2020. This deepening of poverty was due to the loss of pandemic supports and the rising inflation rate.

Welfare incomes are estimated for four types of households: a single person considered employable; a single person with a disability; a single parent with a two-year-old child; and a couple with two children aged ten and 15.

Each edition of Welfare in Canada has an all-Canada section, as well as separate sections for each province and territory. Included in those sections are:

  • The components of welfare incomes and their amounts;
  • How the adequacy of welfare incomes compares to measures of poverty; and
  • How benefit amounts and adequacy changes over time.

New this year, the report contains:

  • An analysis of adequacy for welfare incomes in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, as the Northern Market Basket Measure has just been released by Statistics Canada;
  • Information on whether benefits and credits are indexed to inflation, to protect against the rising cost of living; and
  • A breakdown of basic social assistance benefits to indicate which jurisdictions provide separate benefits for general costs and for shelter.

Welfare in Canada is the only resource of its kind and is relied upon by policymakers, academics, advocates, researchers, and journalists.

To access the data and download the report, visit