Canadian group advocates for tax credits to help struggling singles

Do singles need tax credits?

A Canadian anti-poverty advocacy group says single working-age adults account for half of those living in “deep poverty” and therefore need more government tax credits to account for their situation.

The Community Food Centres of Canada says the high rates of poverty experienced by single working-age adults may come as a surprise to many Canadians; however, the social safety net does not consider the current realities of a “precarious labour market.”

The group is calling on the federal government to implement what it would call the “Canada Working-Age Supplement” — a refundable tax credit for single working-age adults living in poverty.

The proposed supplement would transform the Canada Workers Benefit by removing the requirement for attachment to the labour market and increasing the minimum benefit level to $3,000 with an additional $1,000 to support low-wage earners, according to the group’s study Sounding the Alarm: The Need to Invest in Working-Age Single Adults.

Doing so could reduce poverty among 3.1 million low-income, working-age single people in Canada, they claim.

The group notes of the 1.8 million Canadians in deep poverty, 900,000 are working-age adults (age 18-64). Their average annual income is $11,700, which is less than half of the $25,252 low-income threshold for a single-adult household.

“Instead of lifting working-age single adults above the poverty line, our current social assistance system keeps them trapped below it through woefully inadequate monthly payments and the clawing back of payments when individuals earn income,” stated the report.

These adults account for 38 per cent of all food-insecure households and 45 per cent of food bank users, the report noted. Furthermore, they account for 89 per cent of shelter users.

The group collaborated with eight “community food centres” across Canada to conduct focus groups with users.

“The people we spoke with shared the challenges they faced despite being employed or having access to government assistance. Many were employed as house cleaners, cooks, bakers, or grocery store clerks. Others worked in administrative jobs, as landscapers, sales associates, or delivery drivers. Some had part-time work, some had recently completed contract jobs, and some relied on social assistance — especially when decent jobs were impossible to find. Several lived with disabilities, which shaped the types of employment they could attain, or their ability to work at all,” the group stated.

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