Federal government gets D- on 2024 Poverty Report Cards

Canada has reached a critical turning point as progress made in reducing poverty over the past decade is now eroding quickly.

Despite dramatic increases in people’s financial struggles, poverty rates, and food insecurity, most governments are not responding with the urgency that is needed.

According to Food Banks Canada’s newly-released 2024 Poverty Report Cards — which were first introduced in 2023 as a comprehensive overview of the picture of poverty in Canada and to compare the progress of every government over time — almost half of people nationally (44%) feel financially worse off compared to last year.

One in four people are experiencing food insecurity, the highest rate in recorded history, and all jurisdictions except for Prince Edward Island are failing in the affordable housing section of the report.

These important findings contributed to Food Banks Canada downgrading the federal government’s grade of D in 2023 to a D- in 2024, putting the country on the edge of poverty failure.

“Food Bank Canada’s 2024 Poverty Report Cards show that people in Canada, from coast to coast to coast, are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living. Though deeply concerning, these results are sadly unsurprising to the thousands of food banks across the country who have seen a 50 per cent increase in visits since 2021,” explains Food Banks Canada CEO Kirstin Beardsley. “All levels of government and all jurisdictions working together is the only effective way to decrease and reverse poverty and food insecurity. Food Banks Canada’s 2024 Poverty Report Cards clearly show that sustained, collective effort from all governments is our greatest hope for real and lasting change.”

Governments at all levels must prioritize poverty reduction efforts

Nearly every government in Canada received grades in the D range and no province or territory received an overall grade higher than a C. Seven out of 10 provinces received a D- for their insufficient approach to poverty reduction, which means no province is demonstrating an acceptable level of poverty reduction efforts.

Only Nova Scotia (D- in 2024, F in 2023) and PEI (C- in 2024, D+ in 2023) improved on their 2023 grades thanks to an improved legislative focus on poverty reduction over the past year.

While Quebec is trending slightly higher on its poverty reduction efforts (C+) compared to most regions, the province’s standing slipped from a B- in 2023 as policy actions taken in prior years have not kept pace with the rising cost of living.

In the North, housing and living costs are deepening the struggles of communities and signal an urgent need for collective government action.

People in Canada deserve better

While it is clear that poverty conditions in Canada are trending in the wrong direction in 2024, there are several actions that governments can take this year to ensure that people and families within their province are better off before Food Banks Canada’s next report is issued.

In the short term, governments must provide immediate financial relief to the people who are experiencing unacceptable levels of food insecurity and struggling to put food on the table. In the long term, continuing to work on the construction of affordable housing, improving social assistance, and supporting low-income workers are needed, among other long-term solutions.

The report this year applauded several governments for taking steps in the right direction on legislation. It will take repeated years of positive action for the state of poverty and food insecurity to improve in Canada.

The full series of report cards provide detailed provincial, national, and territorial analysis and statistics, along with policy recommendations and an interactive digital map that Food Banks Canada will update year over year to hold governments to account.