November 21, 2017
Approximately 3.2 million to 5.0 million Canadians have low income.
In 2016, the Government committed to developing a poverty reduction strategy. To support parliamentarians in their deliberations regarding this strategy, the Parliamentary Budget Officer initiated a census of all existing federal support and services to low income Canadians and vulnerable groups.
Overall, we identified 75 federal initiatives that provide roughly $57 billion of financial support or services to people with low income and other vulnerable groups in 2017-18—55 programs with expenditures of $39.3 billion and 20 tax expenditures that provided $17.5 billion.
Importantly, the various programs and tax expenditures we identified are diverse in their purpose, design and target populations. They were created independently of one another, at different times and in response to different policy problems. Problematically, while the Financial Administration Act mandates program evaluations every five years, there is no similar requirement for tax expenditures. The absence of these evaluations creates an information gap.