Is poverty a problem in a well-off country like Canada? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Especially for women.
Although Canada is a relatively wealthy country, about 1 in 10 Canadians are living on a low income, and 1.5 million of those living on a low income are women. As the infographic below shows, the incidence of poverty is even higher for particular groups of women.
There are two main reasons women tend to be poorer than men:
1. They spend more time doing unpaid work like childcare, housework and food preparation, and have less time for paid work; and,
2. They face a gender wage gap. In 2011, women made 66.5 cents for every dollar men earned.
Looking at the figures on poverty among Canadian women is not only sobering, it helps us better understand where we are in terms of gender equality. Poverty among women makes them more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and spousal violence. It also means that they’re likely to raise their children in a low-income situation.
The social cost of dealing with these issues after the fact affects us all. As an example, the Department of Justice estimates that Canadians spend $7.4 billion each year to address the aftermath of spousal violence.
If we can level the economic playing field, we’ll all win.
Read more about women and poverty in Canada by visiting our fact sheet.