Quebec households are falling into poverty due to poor wealth distribution: study

Volunteers place donated food items into boxes at the Moisson Montreal food bank in Montreal, Saturday, December 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A new study counted 750,000 people in Quebec who do not reach the Market Basket Measure (MBM) threshold and says that better political choices could have avoided such a fate without penalizing the incomes of other Quebecers.

The Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society (IRIS) said that three years ago, 200,000 more people than in 2012 were able to cover their basic needs. However, the situation of the poorest 10 per cent of households has remained unchanged.

IRIS economist Simon Tremblay-Pepin observed that the households that were closest to the MPC threshold were the ones able to cross it. The MBM is based on a basket of goods and services calculated by Statistics Canada to represent a modest basic standard of living.

Tremblay-Pepin said that in 2016 and 2017, the basic needs of the entire population could have been covered if economic growth had been better distributed. In addition, the income of the people who already cover their needs would still have increased substantially.

However, the political and fiscal decisions of successive governments in Quebec went in the opposite direction, IRIS said.

Tremblay-Pepin concluded that the poorest 10 per cent of households had at their disposal the equivalent of only half a basket of consumer goods essential to live, while the richest 10 richest had almost five full baskets.

The economist said poverty is a societal choice.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2020.   

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