A Multi-Dimensional Definition of Child Poverty: Informing Practice in Calgary

Canada has no comprehensive and widely accepted definition of poverty.  Definitions of poverty in Canada have historically focused on economic concerns, and have used various income measures such as the Low Income Cut-Off, the Low-Income Measure, and the Market Basket Measure.  However, the OECD (2013) has characterized poverty as a “well-being failure” that “is multi-dimensional and goes beyond material conditions”. 

Given the lack of an accepted, multi-dimensional guiding definition, it is all but impossible to align research, public policy, and front-line efforts to alleviate the compounding effects of poverty for one of the most vulnerable groups in Canadian society, namely children. This initiative explores the experience of child poverty from a rights-based perspective to develop a multi-dimensional definition of child poverty that will inform practice.


Project Reports


Rights, Capabilities and Obligations: New Perspectives on Child Poverty in Calgary

2017 - Dr. Rita Yembilah and Chelsea Lamb

This paper provides a summary of our research to develop a new multi-dimensional definition of child poverty. Based on a review of literature, stakeholder consultations and key informant interviews, this research has developed an understanding poverty as a continuum from deep poverty to well-being. The report describes four types of childhood poverty; poverty of self-perception, of relationships, of structure and supports, and of standard of living. 


Planning to Eliminate Child Poverty: Thematic Overview of Child Poverty Policy in Canada

2016 - Dr. Rita Yembilah and Chelsea Lamb

This paper provides a national policy scan to collate from the federal to the municipal level, past and current efforts to address child poverty in Canada. To frame this policy scan, four dimensions of poverty – monetary, social exclusion, participation and capabilities – are employed. This scan determined that poverty discourse across Canada is skewed toward monetary approaches. On the other end is the near absence of participatory discourse. There is an interest in forging capabilities and social inclusion dimensions but whether the monetary responses harnessed to do this have worked is the question. It appears, however, that the focus on monetary measures of child poverty is part of the problem.


The Influence of Policy on Childhood Poverty in Selected Provinces in Canada

2016 - Dr. Damon Bailey-Lynch

This paper examines possible explanations for the less than desirable childhood poverty rates within Canada. By focussing on the importance of policy creation in addressing poverty, this paper focuses on the policy envrionment of three provinces, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, and examines how these three distinctly different provinces address the issue of childhood poverty within their province. This paper concludes that the creation of a comprehensive policy inclusive of contributions from all stakeholders of poverty reduction constructred on both economic and social factors is the most effective manner in addressing the social issue of childhood poverty.


Supporting Research and Information

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Children: The Silenced Citizens
Effective Implementation of Canada’s International Obligations with Respect to the Rights of Children.
Final Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (2007)

Campaign 2000 National Report Cards