Poverty Rate Among Single-Parent Families Cut by Half over Decade: C.D. Howe

TORONTO, June 24 /CNW/ - The poverty rate among the two million Canadians living in lone-parent families has fallen by more than half over a decade, according to a C.D. Howe Institute study released today. In Reducing Lone-Parent Poverty: A Canadian Success Story, Professor John Richards, the Roger Phillips Scholar in Social Policy, finds this decline largely reflects smart social program reforms that led to a dramatic increase in employment income among these families.

Professor Richards surveys Canadian poverty trends over the past three decades, especially the major welfare-to-work social policy initiatives undertaken in the 1990s. From 1996 to 2007, the poverty rate as measured by the low-income cutoff (LICO) rate fell from 50 percent to 20 percent for members of lone-parent families. The main reason: in the mid-1990s, many of Canada's largest provinces adopted "tough love" initiatives that rendered welfare access more difficult for those classified as employable, a category including most single parents. Accompanying the "tough love" were "soft love" initiatives intended to provide benefits to working parents - such as better support for child care and the National Child Benefit System.

While lone-parent poverty has fallen dramatically, Canada's overall poverty reduction since the mid-1990s has been similar to other OECD countries. And, as measured by the low-income measure (LIM - the percentage living below half of the median income), Canada's poverty rate in mid-2000s was above that of the typical OECD country.

For the study go to: http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/commentary_305.pdf

SOURCE C.D. Howe Institute

For further information: For further information: John Richards, Professor, Public Policy School, Simon Fraser University, and Roger Phillips Scholar in Social Policy at the C.D. Howe Institute, 416-865-1904, email: cdhowe@cdhowe.org

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