Three hundred and eighteen

I’m going to look at other ways people measure poverty, in both wealthy and poor communities around the world.  I will start with my own province and a newly-developed measurement of child poverty in Ontario:

A different way of looking at poverty – the Ontario Deprivation Index

The Low-Income Cut Off that I am using as my poverty line is based solely on income made during a year.  But there are other factors that are important when measuring poverty, such as standard of living.  The Ontario Deprivation Index is “a list of items or activities considered necessary to have an adequate standard of living, but those who are poor are unlikely to be able to afford.”  This is not a list of basic needs, because in wealthy societies most households are likely to have basic necessities such as clean water, healthcare, and some food.  This is a list to distinguish the poor from the non-poor – what Ontarians believe are necessary to have a standard of living above the poverty level.

The list:

  • Do you eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day?
  • Are you able to get dental care if needed?
  • Do you eat meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent at least every other day?
  • Are you able to replace or repair broken or damaged appliances such as a vacuum or a toaster?
  • Do you have appropriate clothes for job interviews?
  • Are you able to get around your community, either by having a car or by taking the bus or an equivalent mode of transportation?
  • Are you able to have friends or family over for a meal at least once a month?
  • Is your house or apartment free of pests, such as cockroaches?
  • Are you able to buy some small gifts for family or friends at least once a year?
  • Do you have a hobby or leisure activity?

The Index was developped in partnership with the Daily Bread Food Bank,  the Caledon Institute of Social Policy and Statistics Canada.  The Daily Bread Food Bank started by testing 29 items with people accessing food banks.  Through surveys, focus groups, and employing people living in poverty as researchers, the list was narrowed down to the 10 items listed above.

Statistics Canada took this list and surveyed 10,000 households in Ontario.  The results determined how many children are being raised in poverty.  A child has poverty-level standards if at least two out of the 10 items in the Index are missing in the child’s household because the family cannot afford them.  The 2009 results found 12.5% of Ontario children were lacking two or more of the items.

The good thing about this measure, as opposed to the income measure, is it reflects living conditions, real-life experiences, and social isolation experienced because of poverty.  Although it is definitely a measurement for a wealthy society.  For the purpose of my experiment, this is not concrete enough to use as my poverty line, but complements the income measure to create a broader picture of living at the poverty line in Canada.