Canadian Social Research Links

The Toronto Star
War on Poverty Series

Sites de recherche sociale au Canada

Série "War on Poverty"
du Toronto Star

Links checked November 17, 2009
Liens vérifiés le 17 novembre 2009

[ Go to Canadian Social Research Links Home Page ]

War on Poverty - from The Toronto Star
- ongoing series of articles and editorials about the plight of Canada's needy and possible reforms to the social programs that assist them.

< Begin researcher's plaintive lament. >

Et tu, Brute?
Sadly, it appears that the consummate liberals at The Toronto Star decide to dump the War on Poverty links portal link when they did the latest upgrade to their site.
What a pity --- there were over 50 links to Star articles and editorials on poverty going back several years.
It was a very useful resource for poverty researchers and advocates.
So why did they do that?
I dunno.

< /End researcher's plaintive lament. >

Here are several dozen relevant links from
2006 and 2007 that I'd saved in addition to the Star's now-dead War on Poverty link:

All of the links below are working as at November 17, 2009.

McGuinty can learn from success of Britain's Blair
October 31, 2007
By Lisa Harker
So Dalton McGuinty's new government has made a commitment to develop a poverty reduction plan. Ontario's anti-poverty campaigners would be forgiven for celebrating: getting poverty onto the political agenda is no small feat. But now the real work begins. Premier McGuinty's pledge is an empty one if he fails to answer some critical questions: How? What? And when?

Dubious victory in war on poverty
October 24, 2007
By Carol Goar
We're winning the war on poverty, says Vancouver economist John Richards. The employment rate among low-income Canadians has risen in the past decade. The welfare rolls have shrunk. And the overall rate of poverty has declined. "The policy innovations of the last decade got much right," he concludes, in a study that is sure to delight hard-line conservatives and infuriate anti-poverty activists.

Canada's social policy imperatives
October 23, 2007
By John Stapleton and Pedro Barata
"Lost in the fray over Kyoto and Afghanistan in the throne speech was the bare mention of a federal commitment to combat poverty.That social policy does not top the government's to-do list is nothing new. But it is surprising that it is so far off the government's radar screen given the surplus of ideas, financial capacity and political interest in this area. When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the 2007 budget surplus at $13.8 billion, he allocated half to pay down Canada's debt and half to the new Advantage Canada program. This means that there is almost $7 billion dollars for Advantage Canada recipients. (...) Social programs should be designated immediately as beneficiaries of Advantage Canada, with a commitment to a clear allocation formula made available to Canadians. Canada's greatest advantage is surely its people, backed by public policy that affirms their security and well-being..."

The Prosperity Gap : Why poverty threatens us all
The gap between rich in poor in this country has reached Third World levels. Will it take widespread unrest to convince people they have a stake in this?
October 20

Related links:

Speech from the Throne (October 16, 2007)
Government of Canada

Advantage Canada
Department of Finance Canada

Contract job workers left without hope (Ontario)
March 10, 2007
Contractor. Subcontractor. Independent owner. Self-employer. Franchisee. Under these and other job arrangements, many low-pay Ontario workers in the service sector – mainly women, recent immigrants and visible minorities – are being denied minimum wages and other basic employment rights by employers evading labour-protection laws.

Liberals defend record on poverty fight - March 07, 2007
One in six Ontario children is poor and living in deeper poverty than in the early 199, a report from Campaign 2000 said yesterday.

Kids hit hardest by economic woes - March 06, 2007
One in six Ontario children is poor and living in deeper poverty than in the early 1990s, a provincial advocacy group says in its annual report card to be released today.

Guaranteed income, guaranteed dignity - March 5, 2007
Myriam Canas-Mendes loves her job as an outreach worker at the Stop Community Food Centre where she organizes public forums, connects recent immigrants to government services and helps out in the centre's breakfast and lunch programs. The pay is between $10 and $12 an hour depending on the task. That's considered fair by advocates who are pushing Queen's Park to raise the provincial minimum wage to $10 from $8.The problem is the single mom of two doesn't get enough hours to make ends meet. And so the 34-year-old Canas-Mendes has to rely on welfare to supplement her income. Except that doesn't provide enough money to live on either.
NOTE: See "Related" in the right-hand column of this article for links to 9 related resources


Countdown for poverty activists
March 9, 2007
This should be a time of anticipation for the coalition of children's advocates, food bank organizers, church leaders and anti-poverty activists fighting to get help for Ontario's lowest-income families.Dalton McGuinty has finally pledged to tackle child poverty. "In the weeks ahead, our government will act," he told fellow Liberals last week. "It's no longer just a moral imperative to ensure that the poor find opportunity and grow strong. At the beginning of the 21st century in a global economy, it's become an economic necessity." But as the government finalizes its March 22 budget, there is as much apprehension as excitement in the air.
NOTE: this column by Carol Goar isn't "officially" part of the War on Poverty series, but it's definitely worth including in this reading list

Related Link from The Globe and Mail:

New budget will tackle child poverty, Premier says
McGuinty also wants to address climate change in a way that helps the economy
March 2, 2007
The provincial budget will include innovative measures that address child poverty, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says. "It's no longer just a moral imperative to ensure that the poor find opportunity and grow strong," he said last night at a Liberal Party fundraiser. "At the beginning of the 21st century in a global economy, it's become an economic necessity." Mr. McGuinty told reporters at the $800-a-plate annual Heritage Dinner that the more he travels the world, the more he realizes that hungry middle classes are growing amid emerging economic powerhouses.


Bold steps needed on child poverty - February 19, 2007
All children in low-income families deserve a fair and decent start in life, whether their parents struggle in low-wage jobs or are forced by circumstances to rely on welfare to make ends meet.

A richer way of measuring wealth:
New well-being index would complement traditional GDP
- February 19, 2007
===> Canadian Index of Well-being (CIW)
[ Go to the Canadian Index of Well-being website ]

Layton sounds alarm on rich-poor divide - February 10, 2007
OTTAWA–Canada's federal government and major corporations are reaping huge surpluses while too many Canadians teeter on the brink of poverty, NDP Leader Jack Layton said yesterday.

Sorbara boosts 'poverty agenda' - February 10, 2007
In the wake of a by-election loss in a key working-class Toronto riding to the NDP, Finance Minister Greg Sorbara says the governing Liberals must embrace a "poverty agenda" to help the most needy people ...

Meal subsidy sought for poor - January 30, 2007
The poor in Toronto aren't eating properly because social assistance rates can't cover both shelter and nutritious meals, says the city's medical officer of health.

Council urged to back $10 wage
January 30, 2007
Hiking Ontario's minimum wage to $10 an hour would help Toronto's poor, and council should lend its support to the cause, two city politicians say.

'You just can't live on $8' - January 25, 2007
Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara says the government can't afford to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, a claim that has drawn criticism from New Democrat MPPs and poverty activists.

Minimum wage drive heating up - January 24, 2007
A labour group representing 195,000 workers in the Greater Toronto Area is launching a campaign today to persuade Queen's Park to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

A family consumed by long hours, low pay - January 20, 2007
"You have to admire people like Sam Thuraisamy. For the last 14 years he has delivered tens of thousands of pizzas across the city and says he has only himself to blame for a lifetime of long hours and dismally low pay."
Re. the upcoming Ontario minimum wage increase
See also:
[Minimum Wage Review] Boards set wage in six provinces
January 20, 2007

Child benefit plan vital for province
January 16, 2007
"Elita McAdam, a single mother of a 7-year-old boy, receives $1,008 in social assistance each month and spends 80 per cent of it on rent and utilities for her east-end Toronto apartment. As she explained in a front-page story yesterday in the Star, that leaves her barely $250 for food, clothing and transportation for the two of them, not enough to allow for fresh fruit, sports programs for her son Liam or even an occasional movie. But McAdam should be getting another $122 a month for Liam under the National Child Benefit Supplement, enough money to pay for nutritious food and to allow Liam to participate in sports and other programs that many other children take for granted..."

- Struggling on $1,080 a month - January 15
McGuinty government has raised assistance rates 5.3%, gains wiped out by jumps in the cost of living

- New way to fight hunger - January 15
Pilot project aims to bring volunteers, poor together to look for solutions beyond food banks

- Poverty today - January 13
If the poor weren't so conveniently invisible, maybe we'd come to our moral senses and devise a national strategy for eliminating poverty.

- Editorial: Tackling poverty benefits all society - January 13
As Canadians, we like to think we live in a just society, one that gives fair treatment and opportunity to individuals and groups and a rightful share of our common wealth. But how just and inclusive is a society where children go hungry, some working people cannot earn a living wage, and the homeless crowd into shelters because they cannot afford a place to live?

- The Poverty Equation (PDF file - 525K, 1 page)
- incl. a graphic showing the percentage of people earning minimum wage in 12 countries --- highest (15.6%) is France, Canada is about halfway (4.5%) and the U.S. is tied at second-lowest (1.4%) with Britain; also shows the average annual welfare benefits in 2005 by province/territory for a couple with two kids, along with the change in welfare amounts (in %) since 1989

- Editorial: Hidden face of Canada's poor - January 1
Tragically, the number of people living in poverty has grown – not dropped – in recent years despite economic boom times in many parts of this nation. Those good times, though, have bypassed many Canadians. Today, one in six Canadians, including 1.2 million children, live a miserable existence on incomes well below anyone's definition of poverty.

- Editorial: Targeted strategy can uproot poverty - January 2
In a unanimous 1989 vote, Parliament set itself the bold goal of eradicating child poverty by the year 2000. Yet today, 18 years later, the percentage of children living in poverty is higher than it was when that pledge was made, while poverty among all Canadians is as rooted as ever.

- Editorial: Defining poverty crucial first step - January 6
How many Canadians are really living in poverty today? How much money would it take to lift them over the poverty line? Regrettably, no one can say for certain because Canada lacks an official measure of poverty. And without such a measure, governments and advocates for the poor can only guess at how widespread poverty is, whether it is getting better or worse, and what must be done to eliminate it or even cut it in half.

- Editorial: Foreign governments point way on homeless - January 7
Political leaders and social activists in France, Scotland and, increasingly, the United States are changing their views on what to do about the homeless crisis in their countries. Frustrated by persistent homelessness, they have adopted concrete measures to eliminate it, rather than merely trying to manage the issue. It is a tactic Toronto, Queen's Park and the federal government would do well to study carefully and, where appropriate, to act on.

- Goar: Rich-poor gap a chasm - January 10
On Nov. 20 (2006), the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives launched its "Growing Gap" project. Its aim is to convert people's unease about the concentration of wealth into an active conviction that something is wrong when the economy is doing better than most of the population; when families are working longer and harder to stay in the same place; and when governments sanction this arrangement.

- Editorial: Raises big and small - January 5
Just before Christmas, Ontario's MPPs gave themselves a 25 per cent pay hike. On Feb. 1, the province's poorest workers will get a 3.2 per cent raise to a paltry $8 an hour.

- Two jobs, almost invisible - October 5, 2006
After 13 years in Canada, she still can't afford to buy a sofa
650,000 other working Canadians struggle just like her
HINT: this article includes links to nine more related articles from the fall of 2006


In search of a poverty strategy:
Stop picking away at the edges of poverty,
say forum speakers, and take a leaf from Ireland's comprehensive plan

May 9, 2007
By Laurie Monsebraaten and Rita Daly
"(...) I think without any question, ... we've seen a dramatic reduction in the willingness of governments to address the poverty issue in the country."
(From panellist Bob Rae, former Ontario NDP Premier, and recent candidate in the federal Liberal Party leadership race)

Editorial comment:
Mr. Rae should know about the "reduction in the willingness of governments to address the poverty issue". While he was Ontario Premier from 2001 to 2005, he managed to alienate most of the NDP's traditional base of support because of his government's cost containment measures in Ontario's social programs, especially welfare. I'm sure there were many social justice group people in the audience who remembered only too well the Ontario Expenditure Plan ("Rae Days"), Enhanced Verification of welfare applications (read "Third Degree" or "Spanish Inquisition", according to social advocates...), no more earnings exemptions allowed for the first three months on welfare, administrative blitzes to encourage welfare recipients and applicants to apply for early retirement benefits or disability or survivor benefits under the Canada Pension Plan, and so on.
For more information on the willingness of Bob Rae's government to address the poverty issue from 1991 to 1995,
see the Ontario section of Another Look at Welfare Reform:

From the
National Council of Welfare (NCW):

NOTE : The National Council of Welfare closed its doors and shut down its website at the end of September 2012.
For more information, see

The links to the three reports below are functional because the files are copied to my web server.

Over the years, the Council has produced many reports on poverty and welfare, but there are three that stand out in my mind as milestone reports on the history of welfare in Canada, at least since the 1980s.

1. 1987
Welfare in Canada: The Tangled Safety Net
(PDF - 2.7MB, 131 pages)
November 1987
Tangled Safety Net examines the following issues in Canadian social assistance network of programs:
* Complex rules * Needs-testing * Rates of assistance * Enforcement * Appeals * Recommendations
This report is the first comprehensive national analysis of social assistance programs operated by the provincial, territorial and municipal governments. These programs function as the safety net for Canadians and are better known by their everyday name ‘welfare’.

Version française :
Le bien-être social au Canada : Un filet de sécurité troué (PDF - 3Mo., 138 pages)
Novembre 1987
[ NOTA : Si vous trouvez un lien vers ce fichier en français, veuillez communiquer avec moi pour le partager.
Merci! ]


2. 1992
Welfare Reform
(PDF - 2.8MB, 61 pages)
Summer 1992
This report is an update of the 1987 Tangled Safety Net, but it presents information by jurisdiction rather than by issue - covers all provinces and territories.

Version française:
Réforme du bien-être social (PDF - 3,5Mo., 63 pages)


3. 1997
Another Look at Welfare Reform
(PDF - 6.75MB, 134 pages)
Autumn 1997
- an in-depth analysis of changes in Canadian welfare programs in the 1990s. The report focuses on the provincial and territorial reforms that preceded the repeal of the Canada Assistance Plan and those that followed the implementation of the Canada Health and Social Transfer in April 1996.
[Proactive disclosure : I did the research for, and wrote the provincial-territorial section of, this report while I was on a one-year secondment to the Council. Gilles ]

Version française:
Un autre regard sur la réforme du bien-être social (PDF - 8Mo., 148 pages)


Companion document to
Another Look:

Overview of Provincial (and Territorial)
Welfare Reforms in the 1990s

October 1998
Fifteen pages of research notes used in the production of Another Look at Welfare Reform.
HINT: There's a WEALTH of information on provincial-territorial welfare reforms in these pages that didn't make it to the final report!


National Council of Welfare
Established in 1969, the Council is an advisory group to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (originally the Minister of Health and Welfare Canada). The mandate of the Council is to advise the Minister regarding any matter relating to social development that the Minister may refer to the Council for its consideration or that the Council considers appropriate.

October 6 (2012)
The National Council of Welfare closed its doors and shut down its website at the end of September 2012.
For more information, see


Look beyond the gap: Analyst
Researcher for right-leaning think-tank says the focus should be on why people aren't succeeding in the labour market
May 9, 2007
By Laurie Monsebraaten
Rich people don't cause poor people. In essence, that's the view of the fiscally-conservative C.D. Howe Institute and its research director, Finn Poschmann. When asked about statistics that suggest the fortunes of low-income Canadian families aren't rising as fast as those of rich families at a time when the national economy is booming, Poschmann was dismissive. "If you start fussing over what's happening at the high end of the income scale and say, `look, the rich are doing very well, but the poor aren't,' that could lead you to a distraction," he said in an interview. "Why the rich are doing well might be very different from the reason why people at the low end aren't performing well in the labour market," he said.


Rich, poor gap widens
Few income gains during past 30 years for families with kids, Ontario study says

May 7, 2007
Rita Daly
Half of Ontario families raising children have seen their fortunes stagnate or fall behind compared with a decade ago, while the incomes of the richest have soared, says a new study on the growing income gap. And since 1998, the gap between Ontario's richest and poorest families raising children has widened at a faster pace than the rest of the nation as a whole, says the study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives being released tomorrow.


Worst is over, best is long gone
May 7, 2007
Carol Goar
The good news, said Ernie Lightman, professor of social policy at the University of Toronto, is that the slash-and-burn era is behind us. Canadians are no longer willing to sacrifice their national safety nets for tax cuts. The bad news is that we'll never get back what we had. Universal social programs are irretrievably gone. The welfare state is history.


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