Basic Needs

Basic needs include any resource deemed necessary for persons or households to achieve and maintain physical well-being (Collin & Campbell, 2008). Traditional lists of basic needs are composed of minimum requirements for the private consumption of items such as food, water and shelter. However, more recent lists have expanded to include essential services provided to the community as a whole (for example, healthcare, education, transportation and sanitation). These more comprehensive lists have been developed to represent a more holistic picture of what is required to move beyond mere survival to well-being. Such lists consist of: food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, personal care items, essential furnishings, transportation, communication, laundry services, education, sanitation and insurance (Sarlo 2006).

In 2014, the Fraser Institute estimated the amount of income needed in Canada to afford these basic necessities (Lamman & MacIntrye, 2016). Their research suggested that a single-occupant household would require $13, 310 per annum, whereas a four-occupant household would need a minimum of $26, 619 (Lamman & MacIntyre, 2016). It is important to recognize in these numbers a measure of absolute poverty—they represent the minimum amounts of income required for a household to attain the necessities of life, not to live comfortably or even comparably with their surrounding community (Lamman & MacIntyre, 2016). Thus, they represent a minimum income required for households to stay out of absolute poverty, but do not address relative poverty and do not guarantee human flourishing. Measures of this kind are intended to complement existing measures of relative poverty and inequity, for example, the LICO, LIM, or MBM, and to focus intervention strategies for those populations living in situations of absolute poverty (Sarlo, 2006).


Ideas presented here do not reflect the COH and the Homeless Hub.