Publications, opinions, and speeches
Saving Welfare Incomes and Poverty Profile
Published on 28/06/2012
Information is under attack in Ottawa. The controversial decision in 2010 to axe the long-form Census grabbed media headlines and sparked a whirlwind of opposition from a wide range of social and economic organizations and researchers across Canada.
One of the more insidious results of cutting the long-form Census is that other incredibly important surveys – including the Labour Force Survey and Survey of Household Spending upon which the Consumer Price Index is based – no longer have available the gold standard that the complete Census provided in order to calibrate their estimates.
Key social statistics are gone or have been disappeared.
The federal government is replacing the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), the major source of national information on persons with disabilities and the supports they require to live independently. The federal government has said it is designing a new strategy for data collection on the needs of this population. Disability groups have been closely monitoring this situation to ensure that the new strategy provides as rich a data source as in the past. Unfortunately, scrapping the current Survey makes impossible any accurate assessment of changes over time. Two years on, disability groups are still unclear as to the new data strategy capacity, and with the erosion of Statistics Canada survey tools, their concerns are mounting.
Social Security Statistics: Canada and Provinces, a treasure trove of information on federal, provincial/territorial and municipal government programs, has simply disappeared. In June 2012, Ottawa jettisoned the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) which gathered priceless information on changes experienced by individuals over time, such as movement in and out of poverty.
The 2012 federal Budget abolished the National Council of Welfare (an advisory body to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development). The cut places in jeopardy the future of two of the Council’s most important series – Welfare Incomes and Poverty Profile. We cannot and will not let these essential resources come to an end.
The Caledon Institute of Social Policy will take over the task of gathering and analyzing the welfare and low income data in the two series. This vital information will form the first elements of a new Caledon product, the Canada Social Report.
Caledon will seek continued input and advice from the provinces and territories. Over the years, they have provided the National Council of Welfare with key data and other information – welfare rates and rules – on social assistance and related income programs. Their continued participation in and commitment to this vital work are imperative.
Caledon is uniquely qualified to take over the Council’s welfare and poverty data. Twenty-five years ago, Ken Battle and Sherri Torjman (then Director of the National Council of Welfare and consultant, respectively, now President and Vice-President of Caledon) created the welfare incomes methodology as part of the pioneering report, Welfare in Canada: The Tangled Safety Net. Sherri Torjman went on to write five more Welfare Incomes reports. Ken Battle created the first Poverty Profile in 1982 and wrote several editions thereafter before he left the Council to found Caledon in 1992.
More information will be provided as plans advance for incorporating the welfare and poverty data in the new Canada Social Report.
The attached statement provides some analysis and explanation of the Welfare Incomes and Poverty Profile series, tracing their origins and evolution over the years. It then makes the case as to why Caledon is uniquely qualified to save them.