Income and Poverty Gaps between Women and Men Persist Despite

Monday, July 26 2010

Ottawa, March 30, 2004: Large income disparities between women and men still persist, according to a new report released today by the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW).

The analysis of women’s incomes and poverty is made possible by the publication in 2003 of the 2001 Census of Canada income data and updates of income trends in Canada.

Ellen Oliver, President of CASW, said, "At the same time as we receive this year’s federal budget we are reminded once again that women continue to have lower incomes than men and make up a disproportionate share of the Canadian population in poverty."

In terms of the income that women receive from earnings, the ratio of women’s earnings to men’s earnings has changed little in the last ten years. A key reason for the difference between women’s and men’s earnings, when comparison is based on average annual earnings, is related to the hours worked.

According to 2001 Census data, the average annual pre-tax income of women from all sources, including government transfers, was $22,885, or 62% of that of men. Female lone-parent families have by far the lowest average total incomes among families in Canada.

In terms of poverty, the situation for women has improved slightly. The percentage of women in poverty has declined a little, but family status remains a strong factor in determining who is poor. This is particularly the case for female lone-parent families and senior women.

According to Oliver, "While rates of poverty have declined a little, the depth of poverty (the gap between the average income of the poor and the cutoff or threshold which would bring them above the poverty line) has worsened."

Income disparities vary depending upon where women live. Among the provinces, the widest gap between women’s and men’s average income is in Alberta, the lowest in Prince Edward Island. The income gap between women and men is narrower in the territories.

While the ratio of employment income of immigrant women to immigrant men seems to be similar to the ratio for the general population in Canada, a larger percentage of immigrant women, compared to other women, are without employment income.

The average employment income of visible minority women and men is lower than that of other women and men, but the gap between visible minority women and men is not as wide.

Women continue to be among the poorest of the poor in Canada. They make up a disproportionate share of the population with low incomes - 2.4 million in 2001 compared to 1.9 million men.

Family status has a profound effect on poverty. In 2001, 42% of unattached women aged 18 to 64 lived in poverty compared to 12% of women living in families.

While the incidence of poverty among women declined from 18% in 1992 to 16% in 2001, the depth of poverty (the gap between the poverty line and the average income of women) remained substantial and in some cases worsened. The gap for non-elderly unattached women in 1992 was $8,094. The gap in 2001 was $8,546.

Oliver noted, "After-tax income marginally improves the level of income for low-income individuals and moderates the incidence as well as the depth of poverty. It does not fundamentally affect the relative position of women who remain among the poorest of the poor."

The Canadian Association of Social Workers is a federation of provincial and territorial associations of professional social workers in Canada.

For more information and a copy of the report, contact:

Canadian Association of Social Workers
383 Parkdale Avenue, Suite 402
Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 4R4
(613) 729-6668 (613) 729-9608 (FAX)
Website :

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