Welfare in Canada, 2017

Components of welfare incomes

Households that qualify for basic social assistance payments also qualify for other financial support including:

  • GST/HST credit
  • Provincial/territorial tax credits or benefits
  • Federal and provincial/territorial child benefits (for households with children)
  • Recurring additional social assistance payments (for example, an annual back-to-school allowance)

Together, these combine with basic social assistance payments to form the total welfare income of a household. Households may receive less if they have income from other sources, while some households may receive more if they have special health- or disability-related needs.

The table below shows the value and components of welfare incomes for four household types living in Montreal in 2017.

 Single person considered employableSingle person with a disabilitySingle parent, one childCouple, two children
Basic social assistance$7,836$11,448$9,132$11,767
Additional SA benefits  $960$1,159
Federal child benefits  $6,400$10,800
Provincial child benefits  $3,255$3,614
GST credit$278$324$702$848
Provincial tax credits/benefits$969$970$1,087$1,469
Total 2017 income$9,083$12,741$21,536$29,657

Download the data in a table

In Quebec, all of the example households received Social Assistance except the single person with a disability, who received Social Solidarity benefits. For the single parent, part of the basic social assistance amount included the Temporarily Limited Capacity Allowance of $133 a month.

Additional social assistance benefits included the monthly Shelter Allowance Benefit of $80 per month for households with children (administered by the Societé d’habitation du Québec) and the Annual School Allowance for the couple with children (amounting to $76 for the 10-year-old and $123 for the 15-year-old).

Child Assistance rates increased alongside rates for basic social assistance payments in January 2017. Households with children received up to $200.83 per month in Child Assistance for their first child, and $100.33 for the second child. Single parents received an additional monthly supplement of $70.42.

All of the household types benefited from the Quebec Solidarity Tax Credit.

Total welfare incomes in Quebec ranged from $9,083 for a single person considered employable to $29,657 for a couple with two children.

Changes to welfare incomes

There was only one substantive change that affected welfare incomes in Quebec in 2017. This was the first full year that the Canada Child Benefit was paid, resulting in higher welfare incomes for the two household types with children.

The graphs below show how the total welfare incomes for each of the four illustrative household types have changed over time. The values are in constant 2017 dollars, taking into account the effect of inflation.

Download the data in a table

  • The welfare income of a single person considered employable declined gradually after the mid-1990s but rose again in 2012. In 2017, the welfare income of a single person considered employable stood at $9,083.
  • The welfare income of a single person with a disability remained stable throughout the 1990s and 2000s and rose in 2012. The welfare income of a single person with a disability was $12,741 in 2017.
  • The increase in 2012 for both household types occurred as a result of the introduction of the Quebec Solidarity Tax Credit, which enhanced and replaced earlier tax credit programs.

Download the data in a table

  • The welfare incomes of households with children in Quebec fluctuated during the 1990s and 2000s.
  • In 2012, both household types saw an increase in their welfare incomes due to the introduction of the Quebec Solidarity Tax Credit, which enhanced and replaced earlier tax credit programs. The increase to welfare incomes since 2015 was largely the result of changes to federal child benefits.
  • In 2017, welfare incomes stood at $21,536 for a single parent with one child and at $29,657 for a couple with two children. These are the highest amounts over the 31-year time period.
 

Adequacy of welfare incomes

The adequacy of a household’s total welfare income can be assessed by comparing it to a set threshold of low income. In Canada there are three commonly used measures:

  1. The Market Based Measure of poverty (MBM), which the National Poverty Strategy set as the official poverty measure, identifies households whose disposable income is less than the cost of a basket of goods and services that represent a basic standard of living.
  2. The Low Income Measure of poverty (LIM) identifies households whose income is substantially below what is typical in society (less than half of the median income).
  3. The Low Income Cut-Off measure (LICO) identifies households that are likely to spend a disproportionately large share of their income on the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter.

The table below shows how welfare incomes in Quebec for the four household types compared to the three low income thresholds (after tax). The LICO and MBM thresholds are for Montreal, the largest city in Quebec.

 Single person considered employableSingle person with a disabilitySingle parent, one childCouple, two children
Total welfare incomes$9,083$12,741$21,536$29,657
MBM    
MBM threshold (Montreal)$17,911$17,911$25,330$35,822
Welfare income minus MBM threshold-$8,828-$5,170-$3,794-$6,165
Welfare income as % of MBM51%71%85%83%
LIM    
LIM threshold (Canada-wide)$23,020$23,020$32,555$46,039
Welfare income minus LIM threshold-$13,937-$10,278-$11,019-$16,382
Welfare income as % of LIM39%55%66%64%
LICO    
LICO threshold (Montreal)$20,998$20,998$25,555$39,701
Welfare income minus LICO threshold-$11,915-$8,257-$4,019-$10,044
Welfare income as % of LICO43%61%84%75%

Download the data in a table

For each household type, the maximum welfare income fell well below all of the low income measures. As a proportion, the biggest gap was for single adults considered employable — their welfare income was between 39 and 51 per cent of the low income thresholds. The smallest gap was for the single parent with one child, ranging between 66 and 85 per cent of the low income thresholds.

Return to top