Poverty

According to the United Nations (UN), Canada ranks 12th out of 189 countries in the world for its quality of life. Yet, over 4.8 million people in this country live on a low income.

1.2 million of these individuals live in Quebec.

And half of these Quebeckers (614,025 people) live in Greater Montreal.

 

What does it mean to be poor?

 

It means not having the resources to meet your essential needs for:

More often than not, it means having to live one day at a time and constantly worry about the future. It means experiencing constant stress and, in many cases, facing social isolation.

 

Who are the people affected by poverty?

 

 

Realities that can be easy to ignore

 

Growing up poor

Growing up poor increases the risk of accumulating problems throughout life.

Starting from birth, children born to poor families are disadvantaged.

They often live in areas with higher unemployment and school dropout rates and where people have worse health outcomes and shorter life expectancies.

They experience food insecurity more often.

More people in this situation start school with a delay and leave school before they graduate.

Without a diploma, they risk having a lower average annual income during their working life, going on unemployment more often, experiencing poor living conditions, and having shorter lives.

 

School dropouts: a vicious cycle

Poverty increases the risks that students drop out,
which in turn increases their risks of poverty.

 

 

Parenting at a disadvantage

Disadvantaged areas combine insufficient income and isolation, feelings of helplessness and stress, mental and physical health problems—the list goes on.

When in survival mode, people get overwhelmed and have to devote their energy to taking care of their family's basic needs. This means they may have less energy to support their children and teens or actively engage in their education and goals.

Housing problems

People are considered to have housing problems when their rent is over 30% of their income or they live in a place that is too small, substandard or isolated (without nearby parks, schools, grocery stores or neighbourhoods).

 

Housing problems

People are considered to have housing problems when their rent is over 30% of their income or they live in a place that is too small, substandard or isolated (without nearby parks, schools, grocery stores or neighbourhoods).

The cost of housing has the greatest impact on living conditions. Rent that exceeds 30% of household income is considered too high, and families then risk having financial problems to meet their other basic needs, such as for food and clothing.

Not getting enough to eat

In a developed country like ours where you can always find an abundant variety of fresh, healthy food, it's hard to believe that people can experience food insecurity. However, this is the case for thousands of people in Greater Montreal.

Food insecurity means:

  • Having to choose between rent and food
  • Reducing or cutting your grocery budget
  • Worrying that you can’t put enough food on the table
  • Decreasing how much food you eat
  • Going without food to feed your children
  • Lacking nutritious food
  • Going to school without breakfast

 

Working while poor

Work no longer guarantees a sufficient income for a growing number of people who remain poor despite having a job.

In Greater Montreal, 40% of people aged 18 to 64 who live on a low income are employed.

38% of single parents (mostly women) under the age of 30 and 27% of recent immigrants face this reality, which affects 125,000 people overall. More than half of the working poor have children (55%).

Darquis lives in a food desert. He goes to a Centraide-supported agency to eat better and spend time with his adopted family!

“My name is Darquis. I’ve lived in my neighbourhood for five years. A few months ago, I started going to La P’tite Maison to try and help other people—and myself—become part of the community again. Since having an accident a few years ago, I had been isolating myself and needed to do something to get back into the world.


I left home when I was 15 because I didn’t fit in. I was a figure skater, ballet dancer and musician in a small town that was all about baseball and hockey. I travelled across Canada. I first moved to Toronto, where I met my wife. But when the rent became too expensive, we decided to move to Quebec.


I was in a serious work accident—I was crushed by 800 kg of Plexiglas—and can no longer work. Then my wife died, and I found myself all alone with my son. She was my world and the rock of our family. I felt so alone. I started hiding out in my basement.


One day, I ran into a case worker from La P’tite Maison at a food bank."