Media releases | December 10, 2008

EDMONTON—The National Council on Welfare’s report released today shows that in most categories and by most measures, our social assistance rates in Alberta are either the lowest or the second lowest in Canada. Only in a couple of categories does Alberta measure up to what is happening in other provinces.

While Alberta just increased our rates as of November 1st 2008, we still will be well below the national average in most of the categories studied by this report.The report is very extensive and looks at income support for different family types and people with disabilities.

One of the many important contributions of this report is that the National Council has updated the Market Basket Measure (MBM – based on a community analysis of the actual costs for basics) for 2006 and 2007 and compares this to provincial income supports.

For example: The 2007 MBM for a single individual in Alberta is $16,267 and the provincial income support was $5,059, 31% of the MBM. For a single parent with one child, the Alberta MBM is $21,147 and the income support rate was $13,703 or 65% of the MBM.

“This report shows that Alberta’s income support system is not a “hand up” as some government officials like to say, but a hand that keeps far too many individuals and families struggling well below the surface,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “How is a person or a single mom expected to get out of poverty if they are forced to survive so far below what is considered to be a basic market basket?”

Another interesting thing in the report is how both Newfoundland and Quebec, the two provinces who had established poverty reduction strategies in 2006 and 2007, are consistently at the top of the income support measures. Ontario recently released its comprehensive poverty reduction strategy and has also set targets to reduce poverty.Public Interest Alberta is working with many organizations to advocate for a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.

We recently worked with the Edmonton Social Planning Council on a report on child and family poverty in Alberta entitled, We Can Do Better: Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy for Alberta. PIA is in the process of coordinating a series of forums about poverty reduction that will take place at the end of April and early May in cities around the province.

For the Council’s English and French press release today on the report, available in PDF and HTML, go to

To download the full report in PDF: