What are the key trends in Social Assistance Summaries, 2021?

Posted on July 25, 2022 in Social Security History

Source: — Authors: ,

Maytree.com – Publications/Policy Brief – Interpreting the Data
13/07/2022.   Mohy Tabbara, Garima Talwar Kapoor

This policy brief provides an analysis of data published in Maytree’s Social Assistance Summaries, 2021 report.

The purpose of the brief is to distill the key findings of the report and to identify how the data informs possible policy actions to improve social assistance programs across Canada.

The data from Social Assistance Summaries, 2021 reveals the following key findings:


Please note that while all social assistance programs are represented together in the figures below, it is for illustrative and not comparative purposes. This is because jurisdictions provide social assistance data according to three different reference periods: Nine provide fiscal year average data (average from April 2020 to March 2021); Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut provide calendar year average data (average from January 2021 to December 2021); and Alberta and Yukon provide point-in-time data on March 31, 2021.


The number of people receiving social assistance declined

Figure 1 – Percentage change in social assistance beneficiaries for each program in 12 jurisdictions, between 2020 and 2021

Pandemic supports affected the number of people receiving social assistance

CERB repayments will exacerbate poverty

Unattached single adults are the largest household group receiving social assistance

Figure 2 – Percentage of social assistance recipients who are unattached singles for each program in 11 jurisdictions, 2021

Figure 3 – Welfare incomes of unattached singles in each province relative to the Official Poverty Line (MBM) and the deep poverty threshold, 2020

  1. Unattached singles considered employable
  2. Unattached singles with disabilities

Source: Jennefer Laidley and Mohy Tabbara. Welfare in Canada, 2020. December 2021. Maytree. Accessed at: https://maytree.com/welfare-in-canada/

There is a relatively equal gender split among recipients of social assistance

Figure 4 – Percentage of females receiving social assistance for each program in 11 jurisdictions, 2021

Key takeaways

The data released in Social Assistance Summaries, 2021 provides a depth of insight into the important trends and current state of social assistance enrollment in Canada. The analysis in this policy brief provides a first set of pathways for governments to improve the human right to an adequate standard of living of some of the most vulnerable people in Canada.

Here are some key takeaways:

This brief is only a first glimpse into the trends in Social Assistance Summaries, 2021. We hope other researchers, policy professionals, lived experts, and advocates will take this data and further our understanding of who is receiving social assistance, and what solutions are available to address deep poverty in Canada.


[1] Campaign 2000. “Briefing note: CERB repayment amnesty campaign.” April 2021. Accessed at: https://campaign2000.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/C2000-CERB-repayment-amnesty-briefing-note-April-2021.pdf

[2] Gillian Petit and Lindsay M. Tedds. “Interactions between Federal and Provincial Cash Transfer Programs: The Effect of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on Provincial Income Assistance Eligibility and Benefits”. May 18, 2021. Kathy L. Brock and Geoffrey Hale (Eds.). Managing Canadian Federalism Beyond Pandemic. University of Toronto Press. Forthcoming.

[3] Jenna Moon. “More than one million Canadians have to repay CERB — and in some cases EI is being clawed back to do it.” June 10, 2022. Toronto Star. Accessed at: https://www.thestar.com/business/2022/06/10/repaying-cerb-canadians-receiving-ei-can-expect-their-payments-to-be-garnished.html

[4] Jenna Moon. “This ODSP recipient qualified for CERB. Now the CRA wants it back.” June 29, 2022. Toronto Star. Accessed at: https://www.thestar.com/business/2022/06/29/this-odsp-recipient-qualified-for-cerb-now-the-cra-wants-it-back.html

[5] Employment and Social Development Canada. “One-time grant for Guaranteed Income Supplement recipients who received pandemic benefits.” March 2022. Accessed at: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions/cpp/old-age-security/guaranteed-income-supplement/support-pandemic-benefit.html

[6] David Green, Jonathan Rhys Kesselman and Lindsay Tedds. “Considerations for basic income as a COVID-19 response.” University of Calgary School of Public Policy. SPP Briefing paper, Volume 13:11. May 2020. Accessed at: https://www.policyschool.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Basic-Income-reen-Kesselman-Tedds.pdf


Tags: , , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Monday, July 25th, 2022 at 12:08 pm and is filed under Social Security History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply