Welfare rates lower across the board, except for Ontario: study

A University of Calgary study has found that the percentage of people using social assistance is lower than it was four decades ago in every province, except Ontario.

CALGARY — A University of Calgary study has found that the percentage of people using social assistance is lower than it was four decades ago in every province, except Ontario.

Ron Kneebone and Katherine White of the School of Public Policy looked at social assistance data for people under the age of 65 from all of the provinces between 1969 and 2012.

Kneebone said he was surprised to find the rate had fallen in every province but one.

“The reliance on social assistance in Ontario is now higher than in any other province, except Newfoundland and Labrador. In every Maritime province, it’s lower than it is in Ontario,” said Kneebone.

The percentage of those receiving assistance in Ontario in 2012 was 7.6 per cent, up from the four per cent it was in 1969.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s social assistance rate was nine per cent in 2012, but half what it was in 1969 at 18 per cent. Alberta had the lowest welfare rate in 2012 at just 3.2 per cent, down from five per cent in 1969.

Even Quebec, a province with a similar size and economic force as Ontario, has also seen its rate fall to seven per cent two years ago from just under 10 per cent in 1969.

The study doesn’t look at the reasons for the disparity.

But Kneebone said the Ontario case begs the question of whether policy missteps have played a role in the province’s high social assistance usage rate. He said the question is whether its social assistance programs are too robust and encourage individuals to go on welfare as opposed to pursue other options.

“Social assistance is a provincial program and everyone has a different set of rules and regulations that determine if you can collect social assistance and for how long,” he said.

“What someone needs to do is go through and figure out how Ontario’s rules differ from what is done elsewhere.”

It has not been a straight downward trend in the provinces over the years. During recessions, the numbers have risen dramatically but dropped off once recovery starts to take hold.

During the economic downturn in the 1990s, Ontario’s social assistance rate hit nearly 15 per cent, while both Quebec and Nova Scotia were closing in on 13 per cent.

British Columbia was also near 12 per cent in the 90s, but Kneebone said its number dropped to 4.7 per cent in 2012.

“What drives people on and off of social assistance is the business cycle,” said Kneebone. “We run into recessions and people go on. There’s recovery and it goes off.”

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

Get your guilty pleasures: Westerner Days food

Traditional sugary treats were served up by the plate, bowl and bucket… Continue reading

Centrefest brings feats of daring to Red Deer’s downtown

Fundraising was a tough slog, but it came together in the end

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

Redoing hip surgeries are costly, says new study

Redoing hip and knee replacements costs Canada’s health system $130 million a… Continue reading

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Jones’ punt return TD rallies Riders to road victory over Ticats

Roughriders 31 Tiger-Cats 20 HAMILTON — Brandon Bridge kept Dave Watford on… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer’s Iron Buffalo rocks Westerner Days

Iron Buffalo opened for Helix and Lee Aaron Thursday at the ENMAX Centrium

Zuckerberg’s Holocaust comment puts Facebook on the spot

NEW YORK — Denying the Holocaust happened is probably OK on Facebook.… Continue reading

Brazilian police arrest ‘Dr. Bumbum’ after patient dies

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police have arrested celebrated plastic surgeon Denis… Continue reading

Canadian marijuana company Tilray has first US pot IPO

SEATTLE — A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete… Continue reading

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem… Continue reading

Soy “milk” makers may need to find alternative description

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks that bill themselves as “milk”… Continue reading

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death granted day parole

CALGARY — A woman whose son died after she failed to take… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month