Social Assistance Summaries

Last updated: July 2022

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.

Program details

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?

On average, there were just under 4,700 cases (families and single adults) and almost 10,400 beneficiaries (individual claimants, their partners, and dependent children) in Nunavut’s Income Assistance Program in 2021. Both numbers decreased in 2021, by about 960 cases (17 per cent), and 2,300 beneficiaries (18 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.

Figure 1NU – Yearly cases and beneficiaries of the Income Assistance Program in Nunavut, 2000 to 2021

What proportion of the population receives social assistance?

In 2021, on average, 27.4 per cent of people in Nunavut under 65 received the Income Assistance Program, which is over 1 in 4. 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 2021

Who is receiving social assistance?

In 2021, singles with or without children were a significant majority of Income Assistance Program cases in Nunavut. They represented 80 per cent of cases, while couples with or without children comprised 20 per cent of cases.

Information on the gender of beneficiaries was not available.

Figure 3NU – Cases of the Income Assistance Program by household in Nunavut, 2021


Figure 4NU – Yearly social assistance data for Nunavut, 1997 to 2021

Figure 5NU – Social assistance data by household for Nunavut, 2021

Data notes

  • 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.
  • Data on beneficiaries by household, and more detailed data on cases by household, was not available.
  • Data on gender was not available.