The well-being of children has long been a priority for Canadians. In 1893, Ontario enacted the first comprehensive child welfare legislation in Canada, and, in 1944, Canada introduced the Family Allowance Act, which provided universal benefits for every child. In 1989, the House of Commons resolved to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Poverty reduction legislation has also been adopted more recently in many provinces and territories.
Under various government programs, Canadian families receive significant financial support for children, and Canada has made important progress in alleviating child poverty since the mid-1990s. Although there is no single agreed-upon measure of poverty in Canada, it is well known that having low income is a major aspect of living in poverty.
A key purpose of the census is to provide information on small population groups, both in terms of geography and in terms of demographic characteristics. This article focuses on persons who were younger than 18 at the time of the 2016 Census and living in low-income households.
Children represent almost one-quarter of low-income persons in Canada. There were 4.8 million Canadians living in a low-income household in 2015, of whom 1.2 million (nearly one in four) were children.