BC Legislature
(File photo)

The overwhelming majority of Canadians see poverty increasing in their communities and don’t believe the federal and provincial governments are doing enough about it, but they’re divided on the best course of action, according to a new study.

The findings were the focus of the second part of a recent Angus Reid Institute study into poverty in Canada. The first part dealt with definiing poverty based on the lived day-to-day economic struggles of Canadians, and found one-in-four Canadians are experiencing “notable financial hardship.”

According to part two, two-thirds of Canadians (65%) say the federal government isn’t doing enough to address poverty, and approximately 64 per cent feel the same way about the provincial government.

66 per cent of British Columbians, for example, don’t believe the provincial government is doing enough to address poverty in the region.

The study also looked at how Canadians perceived the poor, and found that seven-in-ten Canadians say poor people are poor because of circumstances outside their control.

Similarly, 65 per cent of Canadians say wealthy people are wealthy because they had more advantages in life, rather than because they worked harder than anyone else.

(Angus Reid Institute)

Furthermore, eight-in-ten agree that the growing gap in wealth equality between high- and low-income earners is “unacceptable. And three quarters disagree with the notion that poor people are poor because they’re lazy.

A breakdown of widely held attitudes and beliefs around poverty. (Angus Reid Institute)

Canadians divided on how to address poverty

According to the Angus Reid Institute, “the belief that Canada’s federal and provincial governments are not doing enough to address poverty is at least the plurality—and more often the majority—view across all demographic and income groups.”

As such, the broad consensus among Canadians is that the government’s efforts to tackle poverty are insufficient.

To identify what Canadians saw as the best solution, the Angus Reid Institute asked respondents to choose between two opposing statements: should there be “more public support for the poor, the disadvantaged and those in economic trouble,” or “more emphasis on a system that rewards hard work and initiative?”

On that question, Canadians are split. 52 per cent choose the former option, while 48 per cent choose the latter.

When presented with four different methods of government intervention, 84 per cent of Canadians think a national infrastructure program to create more jobs is a good idea.

51 per cent, meanwhile, believe raising social assistance rates is a bad idea.

Raising the minimum wage to $15, something that has seen growing support across Canada and the U.S., was supported by 66 per cent of respondents.

(Angus Reid Institute)

Read the full second part of the study here.

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