Media release

New report Welfare in Canada, 2017 looks at latest welfare rates and how they compare to poverty measures

Published on 06/11/2018

Today, Maytree is releasing Welfare in Canada, 2017, the latest update of a yearly series showing the total income households on social assistance would have received (i.e., their income from social assistance alongside tax credits and child benefits). The report looks at how welfare incomes varied across every province and territory for four example households in 2017:

  1. Single person considered employable
  2. Single person with a disability
  3. Single parent with one child age 2
  4. Couple with two children ages 10 and 15

Using data provided by provincial and territorial government officials, the report describes the components of welfare incomes, how they have changed from previous years, and how they compared to low income thresholds. The amounts vary in every province and territory because each jurisdiction has distinct social assistance programs.

Key findings:

  • The total welfare incomes for both household types with children increased in 2017 in every province. This was driven by the introduction of the new Canada Child Benefit as 2017 was the first full year it was paid.
  • Single adult households saw less substantial and less consistent changes to their welfare incomes. The total welfare income for a single person rose in value in some provinces and fell in others. In most cases, these changes were relatively small.
  • In 2017, single adults with a disability saw the biggest shift in their welfare income in British Columbia, where their welfare income rose in value by $1,183 following two increases to Disability Assistance rates.
  • Even where welfare incomes were highest, they fell short of the poverty threshold. The closest was in Quebec where the welfare income of a single parent reached 85 per cent of the poverty threshold in Montreal; for a couple with two children it reached 83 per cent.
  • The welfare incomes in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories were generally higher than in the provinces, reflecting the higher cost of living in the territories. Conversely, welfare incomes in Nunavut were lower than in the provinces, reflecting the high proportion of households on social assistance living in subsidized housing whose living costs are reduced through housing subsidies.

To access the data and download the report, visit

Welfare in Canada was established by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy to maintain data previously published by the National Council of Welfare. In 2018, Maytree assumed responsibility for updating the series.