Troublesome use of stats for poverty figures

MontrealGazette.com – opinion/Letter
July 25, 2013.   Shane Bill

Re: “ ‘Poverty’ drops; media ignore it” (Opinion, July 23).

Andrew Coyne’s assumption that Canada now enjoys the lowest poverty rate in years is troublesome. Ignoring the fact that the Conference Board of Canada gave our government a “C” grade in how it deals with poverty, the statistics he employs betray a bias.

The glowing figures rely on low-income cut offs (LICOs). The trouble is, LICOs are not the best calculators of poverty. Any measurement of poverty needs to look at single parents, immigrant families, refugees and others as independent groups. LICOs oversimplify the complex issue of poverty by combining all these groups with the population as a whole, then coming up with an average. They do not separate single-parent families from two-parent households, or profitable provinces from those that are struggling.

To boot, LICOs ignore on-reserve First Nations altogether. We know that nearly half of indigenous children live in poverty. That’s a huge omission.

Shane Bill, Montreal

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