goal 7

Canada: 14th OUT OF 41 COUNTRIES


Progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40% of the population.


In Report Card 14, UNICEF presents economic inequalities using the Palma Ratio. This index compares the income share of the richest 10% of households with children to the income share of the poorest 40%.

A ratio higher than 1 means that the poorest 40% earn less than the richest 10%. In 2014, UNICEF estimated that among households with children, Canada’s ratio was of 1.12, which ranked the country 24th out of 41 countries.

An analysis of the Palma Ratio in Quebec and in Canada from 1969 to 2009 shows that in the 2000s, the Palma Ratio increased more signifi cantly in Canada than in Quebec.

SOURCES: Centre de recherche Innocenti de l’UNICEF (2017). « Construire l’avenir : Les enfants et les objectifs de développement durable dans les pays riches ». Bilan Innocenti 14, Centre de recherche Innocenti de l’UNICEF — Innocenti, Florence.

Langlois, S. et M. Lizotte (2014). « L’indice de Palma, nouvelle mesure des inégalités au Québec et au Canada », Revue Vie Économique, Volume 6, Numéro 1. Montréal : Institut de recherche en économie contemporaine.

  • In the Montréal CMA in 2015, 16.4% of children under 18 were living in low-income households, according to the low-income measure after tax (Figure 10.1).
  • The rate in Montréal is higher than Quebec’s 14.4% and lower than Canada’s 17.4%.

    Poverty affects more single-parent families, especially those headed by a woman. In Montréal, 37.3% of children living in a single-parent family were living in a low-income situation in 2015.

    39% of parents with children under 6 were living in a low-income household, according to the low-income measure before tax, a rate higher than the 24% rate for all of Quebec.



For some families, poverty has a lasting effect: children who grew up in a low-income family end up in a vulnerable situation when they reach adulthood. For others, it is a temporary situation. The degree of social mobility in a country or region can be measured by estimating the “intergenerational income elasticity,” which is the correlation between the parents’ and children’s adult income. The lower the elasticity, the more socially mobile the person is.

  • In Montréal, social mobility is lower (high elasticity) than in Toronto and Vancouver (Figure 10.1).
  • In Quebec, social mobility is slightly higher (low elasticity) than in Canada as a whole.
  • In Montréal in 2011, 29% of families with children spent over 30% of their income on housing.

    This was much higher than rate of 17% for Quebec overall.

    A much higher proportion of renters and single-parent households spent over 30% on housing.

    Yet the average cost of housing was lower in Montréal than in Canada’s other big cities.
  • High housing costs force some families into unsuitable housing. In Montréal in 2016, nearly 118,000 families with children (with one or two parents) lived in unsuitable housing, meaning that the size, quality or affordability were inadequate.This accounts for 1 in 4 families with children.

    Again, single-parent families are the most affected by this issue.


Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.

Figure 7.1

Intergenerational income elasticity in Canada and some American counties

 SOURCE: Scarfone, S., F. Gosselin, M. Homsky and J.-G. Côté (2017). Le Québec est-il égalitaire? Étude sur la mobilité sociale et l’égalité du revenuau Québec et au Canada. Institut du Québec.


  • In 2011 in the Montréal Census Metropolitan Area, less than 1% of the population identified as Indigenous. This number includes 6,150 children under 15.

    Indigenous children account for less than 1% of all children under the age of 15 in Montréal. This percentage is the same in the Toronto CMA.

    For comparison purposes, Indigenous children account for 4% of all children under 15 in the Calgary and Vancouver CMAs. In Winnipeg, 20% of all children under 15 are Indigenous.
  • In the 2016 report Federal Spending on Primary and Secondary Education on First Nations Reserves, the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported on the significant shortfall between the funding provided to Indigenous schools and that received by provincial schools throughout Canada.

    In Canada, education is each province’s responsibility, except as regards First Nations children living in Indigenous communities. Their education is overseen by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).


In Montréal in 2016, there were 321,675 children under the age of 15 who had at least one parent who was born outside Canada. This accounts for 46.6% of all children under 15.

This proportion was much higher than the 29.4% rate for Quebec overall, but lower than Toronto’s 71% and Vancouver’s 63.7%.

  • Children born in Canada to parents with a precarious immigration status do not automatically receive healthcare. Children, until the age of majority, are admitted to Quebec’s health insurance program (Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec [RAMQ]) based on their parents’ status. They must meet specific criteria to be covered by the RAMQ.

    Since 2011, Médecins du Monde has been running Projet Migrants, a project to improve healthcare access for child and adult immigrants not covered by the RAMQ who are also not eligible for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), do not have private insurance or the fi nancial means to get healthcare. Over 3,000 people benefitted from these services and activities in 2015–2016.


  • In Quebec in 2015, 35,204 families (4% of all Quebec families) received the Supplement for Handicapped Children (SHC) from the child assistance measure. This supplement is paid out to parents of children with an impairment or a functional disability that significantly limits their daily activities.

    Of the families benefi tting from the SHC, 7,812 were living in Montréal, 7,616 in Montérégie and 1,951 in Laval.

    Half of these families make under $50,000 per year.

In quebec, more than 35,000 families received the supplement for handicapped children