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Saskatchewan scores D on poverty report card: Food Banks Canada

A recent report from Food Banks Canada has handed Saskatchewan a grade of D on its poverty report card, behind the national average of D+.

Only British Columbia (D+), Manitoba (C-), Quebec (B-) and Prince Edward Island (C-) rank above while Alberta remains tied with Saskatchewan.

The province’s poverty landscape is “unique” according to the report – given that 42 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population lives in either Regina or Saskatoon and 16 per cent of the population is Indigenous.

“While economic challenges such as housing affordability and rent inflation are prevalent across the prairies, Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan are disproportionately affected by increasing housing costs,” the report says.

The report is broken into four sections: Experience of Poverty, Poverty Measures, Material Deprivation, and Legislative Progress.

For experience and poverty measures, the province received a D-.

A key contributor to the score is the fact that 49.3 per cent of respondents feel worse off compared to last year. Saskatchewan is nearly tied with Alberta as the second worst in the country in the category behind Nova Scotia.

In addition, 59 per cent of people believe rates of government support are not high enough to keep up with the cost of living.

“Saskatchewan consistently performed poorly in each indicator in this section, suggesting that residents are acutely experiencing poverty,” the report says.

“Its overall grade of D- in this section is the worst out of all the provinces (tied with Nova Scotia).”

Saskatchewan also leads the country with its poverty rate, with 9.1 per cent of people living below the poverty line.

When compared to other prairie provinces, Saskatchewan performs better on its two social assistance rate indicators. However, the overall rates are still below the poverty line.

“For single adults, social assistance rates result in incomes at below half of the poverty line, which contributed to low grades in this section,” the report says.

In terms of material deprivation, Saskatchewan scores better, recording a C-.

The Material Deprivation Index (MDI) is a measure that assesses the extent to which individuals lack access to a list of basic needs.

If someone can afford all the items on the list, they’re considered as having an adequate standard of living.

While Saskatchewan scored better than its prairie neighbours, over 25 per cent of people lacked two or more items that are deemed necessary for a decent standard of living.

Across the country, the most common items people can’t afford are the ability to:

  • Pay for an unexpected expense of $500 from their own resources.
  • Repair or replace broken or damaged furniture.
  • Repair or replace broken or damaged electronic goods (i.e. refrigerator, washing machine, laptop).
  • Spend a small amount of money on themselves each week.

Lastly, the report identified shortcomings with the province’s approach to addressing poverty.

“Despite a strong economy and the second lowest unemployment rate in the country, Saskatchewan residents experience some of the highest poverty rates nationally,” the report read.

However, developments such as increases to social assistance programs like SIS, SAID and achieving $10-a-day daycare were highlighted.

“While Saskatchewan took valuable steps to combat poverty reduction with the introduction of the provincial poverty reduction strategy and its goal of reducing the number of people experiencing poverty by 50 per cent by 2025, the current strategy has not been updated or improved since 2016,” the report read.

“Although Canada as a whole has come close to achieving a 50 per cent reduction in poverty (thanks in part to significant pandemic supports), Saskatchewan has not. From 2015 to 2021, poverty rates declined by only 25 per cent in the province.”

The report concluded by outlining the need for affordable housing projects and reducing regional inequalities especially between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Top Stories

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