How much poverty costs in each Atlantic Province is detailed in a new report

April 7, 2021

Today the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS), along with partners in each Atlantic province, released The Cost of Poverty in the Atlantic Provinces. The report provides the total cost of poverty in the Atlantic provinces, which ranges from $2 billion per year in Nova Scotia to $273 million in Prince Edward Island. It costs close to $959 million in Newfoundland and Labrador and $1.4 billion in New Brunswick.

“The purpose of the report is to illustrate the shared economic burden of poverty, and the high cost of inaction to eradicate poverty by Atlantic Canadian governments. It provides yet more evidence that poverty is a societal crisis that must be solved collectively,” according to Christine Saulnier, CCPA-NS Director and co-author.

As Alec Stratford, Chair of the Nova Scotia Action Coalition for Community Well-Being said: “It is fiscally reckless and immoral of the current government in Nova Scotia to allow poverty to fester. The impact of poverty on our collective health, wellness and quality of life is overwhelming and extensively documented. We must embrace systems, that more effectively share wealth, and that provide programs and services to allow folks to heal from intergenerational trauma and poverty.” 

Chelsea Driscoll, with the Human Development Council pointed out, “With 1 in 5 New Brunswick children living in poverty and with intergenerational costs accounting for $224 million in New Brunswick there is a real urgency to eradicate child poverty. These costs could be reallocated to a number of poverty reduction initiatives such as early learning and child care, affordable housing and food security, which could lift a number of New Brunswick children out of poverty.”

“This report clearly situates the huge problem of poverty that exists in this region including in the province of PEI with high unemployment and high count of part-time and discouraged workers. We suffer from chronic stagnation and below poverty line income supports. The holdup to address these issues and build a robust safety net is a violation of basic human rights and is especially urgent given high child poverty rates on PEI. There is no need to be at this stage,” said Mary Boyd with the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice and PEI Coalition for a Poverty Eradication.

Lucy Matson, Poverty Elimination Action Team member, of the Social Justice Cooperative of Newfoundland and Labrador, had this to say: “No one complains when potholes are fixed or a bridge is shored up. But we are very careless about the living breathing infrastructure that will propel us forward or, without adequate investment, drag us down. Poverty costs the province of Newfoundland and Labrador almost a million dollars every year. This report provides us with the information we need to move forward together to address the public health crisis of poverty.”

“This report shows the urgency of addressing poverty in the Atlantic region. Governments need to take immediate action to uplift citizens and residents through living wages and liveable social assistance rates, and other measures to combat poverty. By investing in people who need it most we’re increasing our collective prosperity,” Abram Lutes, Provincial Coordinator of The New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice.


This report is being released in partnership with The New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice, the Human Development Council, the Social Justice Cooperative of Newfoundland and Labrador, the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice, PEI Coalition for Poverty Eradication and the Nova Scotia Action Coalition for Community Well-Being.

For more information or to arrange an interview with the author or representatives from the partner organizations, contact Lauren Matheson, 902-579-9555 (cell) or [email protected]

The report is available in English and French on the CCPA website at scotia/publications

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice.