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Poverty in Canada

Course Code
Walter Peace

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Poverty in Canada
September 29, 2011
10:33 AM
1. What is poverty?
1. Who is poor?
1. Why does poverty exists?
1. What can/ should be done?
Geographic dimensions of poverty:
Spatial patterns
Defining poverty:
Statistics Canada does not measure poverty; instead, it uses the concept of
a low income cutoff (LICO):
Families spending > 59% of its income on necessities (food, shelter,
clothing) are said to be in "straightening circumstances"
The avg. Canadian family spends 39% of its income on necessities, so,
At what point (above 39%) should be considered to be in straightened
Some social agencies define poverty as low income relative to the average or
median income of Canadians- poverty is relative
Other groups, e.g. the Fraser Institute, define poverty as the inability of a family
to buy prescribed "basket of goods"- poverty is absolute
NOTE: policy response to poverty depends on your view of poverty - is it relative
or absolute?
Variations in LICO, depending on
Size of community
Rural vs. urban
Explaining poverty:
Why are people poor? - various perspectives:
Culture of poverty
Poverty results from the internal pathology of deviant groups
BUT, is this blaming the victim??
Cycle of poverty
Poverty results from individual inadequacies being transmitted
from one generation to the next
BUT, is this blaming the victim??
1. Instititional malfunctioning
Poverty is rooted in the failure of the state, i.e. the state does a
poor job in planning for and administering to those in need
BUT, is it too easy to blame the state?
1. Inequitable distribution of resources
Poverty is the inevitable outcome of capitalism, i.e. capitalism
features "HAVES" and "HAVE NOTS"
BUT, resources/ wealth can be redistributed if the political will to
do so exists
1. Labour Market Theory
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