Poverty Reduction


In a city that prides itself on prosperity and opportunity, too many Calgarians still live in poverty. For Calgarians experiencing poverty, finding and navigating a pathway to financial stability can be complex and confusing. This is compounded by social and systemic barriers, such as systemic racism, ableism, and ageism, along with a lack of access to early childhood education, affordable childcare, family supports, adult literacy and job training.

Right now, the City is dependent on chronically underfunded and under-resourced not-for-profit organizations to provide the anti-poverty services and supports that the City itself has committed to. The economic and social impact of poverty on our communities, our healthcare, and emergency services vastly outweighs the cost of investing in poverty prevention and reduction. The City needs to take action to reduce poverty by investing in, fully committing to and implementing programs that address this issue.


Who experiences Poverty

  • While poverty affects the entire community in various ways, Calgary’s Indigenous population is disproportionately affected, largely because of systemic exclusion, historic and ongoing inequity, and intergenerational trauma.

    • While Indigenous people make up less than 3% of Calgary’s population, they make up 21.1% of its homeless population.

    • 8.7% of Indigenous people counted sleep rough, as compared to 3.2% of Caucasian persons.

    • 14.2% of Indigenous persons enumerated were found in systems homelessness, compared to 5.7% of Caucasians.

    • 21.6% of Indigenous peoples enumerated were in transitional housing, compared to 40.8% of their Caucasian counterparts.

    • Indigenous women are over-represented within the female homeless population, where 30.4% of all homeless women counted identified as Aboriginal (as compared to 21.1% of the whole population). (Calgary Homeless Foundation, Oct 2014)

  • Newcomers to Calgary, and particularly those who are racialized, are also especially vulnerable to systemic poverty, and often face additional challenges due to cultural or linguistic barriers.

  • Seniors, women, racialized Calgarians, new Canadians, people with disabilities, LGBTQ2+, and Indigenous people living in urban settings are all statistically more likely to experience poverty.

Indigenous people make up less than 3% of Calgary's population but 21% of its homeless population


The Data

  • 189,000 Calgarians live below the poverty line. That’s over 12% of people in our city who cannot meet their basic needs, and these numbers are from before the pandemic started.

  • 77,000 more Calgarians fell into poverty during the pandemic. That represents a 40% increase in people under the poverty line in our city. (Vibrant Communities Calgary study, May 2021)


77,000 more Calgarians fell into poverty during the pandemic. 


Actions to take

  • This is an area where we have a good strategy and programs in place; however, significantly more resources need to be allocated every year to fully address the problem and reach the goals laid out by the City.
  • The City of Calgary must fully fund and implement the Enough for All Strategy (which was adopted unanimously by City Council in 2013), and commit to adopting and implementing anti-poverty strategy in perpetuity through and past 2023 (when the current strategy adoption expires)

  • The City must implement an Indigenous poverty strategy drawing on the Enough for All Strategy and the White Goose Flying Report.
  • In order to successfully address the disproportionate levels of poverty faced by Indigenous people in Calgary, measures used must be trauma-informed, co-led with Indigenous people and fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

  • Actions should include supporting the creation of the Indigenous Gathering Place and prioritizing funding the Calgary Indigenous Relations office.

  • Adopt a living wage policy for City of Calgary employees and contracted vendors.

  • Expand Fair Entry subsidized city services, improve ease of access to these programs, and provide a smooth and supported entry and exit to services and supports. Revise criteria and thresholds for participation to be functionally below the current cost of living, as opposed to the threshold currently used, which is significantly lower than cost of living.

  • Support and establish more Community Hubs to build and strengthen community networks, in physical and digital spaces.

  • Increase access to quality affordable housing, accessible transit, childcare and early learning programs, and mental health supports.

  • Implement a broad, systemic approach to combating food insecurity.



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