Low Income Measure (LIM)

Statistics Canada publishes Low-income measure-based thresholds, following the practice of many international organizations.

The concept underlying the LIM is that all persons in a household have low income if their adjusted household income falls below half of the median adjusted income. The household income is adjusted by an equivalence scale to take economies of scale into account. This adjustment for different household sizes reflects the fact that a household’s needs increase, but at a decreasing rate, as the number of members increases. The adjustment factor, also known as the equivalence scale, is the square root of the number of persons in the household.

Source:  Statistics Canada, Income Research Paper Series, Low Income Lines: What they are and how they are created, July 8, 2016
Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2016002-eng.htm

Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016 – Table 4.2
Low-income measures thresholds (LIM-AT and LIM-BT) for private households of Canada, 2015 Release date: September 13, 2017

Table 4.2 Low-income measures thresholds (Low-income measure, after tax and Low-income measure, before tax) for private households of Canada, 2015
Table summary: This table displays the results of Low-income measures thresholds (Low-income measure, after tax and Low-income measure, before tax) for private households of Canada, 2015. The information is grouped by Household size (appearing as row headers), After-tax income and Before-tax income (appearing as column headers).
Household sizeTable 4.2 Note 1 After-tax income Before-tax income
1 person 22,133 25,516
2 persons 31,301 36,084
3 persons 38,335 44,194
4 persons 44,266 51,031
5 persons 49,491 57,054
6 persons 54,215 62,500
7 persons 58,558 67,508
Note 1 To convert to other household sizes, multiply the value in the one-person household by the square root of the desired household size.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population.
Retrieved from: http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/ref/dict/tab/t4_2-eng.cfm

Statistics Canada provides additional information about Low Income Measure (LIM) and Low Income Cut-off (LICO) at this link:  https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/2012002/lim-mfr-eng.htm

The following 2016 Census data shows the number of families to which low-income concepts apply, in Canada, Ontario, the St. Catharines-Niagara CMA (Census Metropolitan Area), the Niagara region and local areas in the Niagara region.

2016 Census Profile Total families to which low-income concepts apply In Low Income, based on the Low Income Measure After Tax (LIM-AT) Prevalence in percent by LIM-AT In Low Income, based on the Low Income Cut-Offs After Tax (LICO-AT) Prevalence in percent by LICO-AT
Canada 33,968,295 4,809,940 14.2 3,128,995 9.2
Ontario 13,184,055 1,898,975 14.4 1,298,590 9.8
St. Catharines-Niagara CMA 396,870 60,760 15.3 30,760 7.8
Niagara Region 438,160 63,405 14.5 32,305 7.4
Fort Erie 30,280 4,850 16.0 1,840 6.1
Grimsby 26,825 1,620 6.0 1,220 4.5
Lincoln 22,955 1,650 7.2 585 2.5
Niagara Falls 85,975 13,855 16.1 6,670 7.8
Niagara-on-the-Lake 16,880 1,675 9.9 780 4.6
Pelham 16,670 905 5.4 405 2.4
Port Colborne 17,865 2,800 15.7 975 5.5
St. Catharines 129,845 22,715 17.5 13,055 10.1
Thorold 18,550 2,725 14.7 1,670 9.0
Wainfleet 6,350 585 9.2 170 2.7
Welland 51,500 9,000 17,5 4,610 9.0
West Lincoln 14,470 1,030 7.1 330 2.3

Source: Statistics Canada, Census Profile, 2016 Census, Income Tables, by Geography http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E

The following table shows income from Canadian tax filers living in the St. Catharines-Niagara CMA.  Statistics Canada defines tax filers as: “Tax filers are people who filed a tax return for the reference year and were alive at the end of the year.” Also, “Total income is income from all sources. Labour income includes employment income and Employment Insurance benefits.” These statistics are available for the years 2000-2015.

Labour income profile 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Number of taxfilers with total income 303,600 304,890 303,720 306,430 312,160 315,860
Number of taxfilers with labour income 212,900 213,700 213,020 213,630 216,570 220,060
Total labour income of taxfilers with labour income (x 1,000) 7,476,990 7,691,150 7,826,475 7,892,475 8,214,815 8,568,960


Source: Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 111-0024 [Data file].
Retrieved from http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&id=1110024

Cost of Living and Living Wage in Niagara

In 2016 and 2017, the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network gathered data to calculate Niagara Living Wage and Cost of Living levels. Both were calculated using nationally-validated methodologies.  In 2017 the Living Wage for Niagara region is $17.57/hour, up slightly from $17.47 for 2016. The conservatively-estimated Cost of Living for a family of four with two children in 2017 is $71,294, a $5,858.49 (9%) increase over the 2016 amount.  

Year Cost of Living level for family of four in Niagara with two children Niagara Living Wage (hourly rate)
2016 $65,435.51 $17.47
2017 $71,294.00 $17.57


Source:  Niagara Poverty Reduction Network
Retrieved from: Cost of Living reports: http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/07/Calculating-the-Cost-of-Living-in-Niagara-Region-2017-Brief-FINAL.pdf and http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/resources-publications/calculating-the-cost-of-living-in-niagara-region-2016/

Living Wage reports: http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/resources-publications/calculating-the-living-wage-for-niagara-region-2017/ and http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/04/8ea78d_b1d964379aec4b5abfb899884c7b268a.pdf

Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinics in Niagara:

Various formal and informal opportunities exist for individuals in Niagara to receive volunteer assistance with income tax preparation.

Through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, community organizations host free tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to complete income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals who have a modest income and a simple tax situation. The CRA provides a directory of volunteer Tax Preparation Clinics.

As of April 2017, the CRA directory listed 11 clinics in Niagara in total:

  • 2 clinics in West Niagara (Beamsville)
  • 2 in Fort Erie
  • 2 in Niagara Falls
  • 6 in St. Catharines
  • 5 in Thorold
  • 4 in Welland

The above list does not include all such volunteer assistance available throughout the region.

In 2017, a total of $2,079,630.44 of income was generated back in to the community, through the 211 (INCommunities) Community Volunteer Income Tax Clinic Pilot Project, completed in partnership with United Way Niagara Falls and Greater Fort Erie, Fort Erie Salvation Army, Bridges Community Health Centre, Niagara Falls Public Library, Niagara Falls Community Outreach and Niagara Centre for Independent Living.

Source:  Canada Revenue Agency and INCommunities (211)
Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/community-volunteer-income-tax-program.html and http://www.incommunities.ca/

Market Basket Measure (MBM)

The Market Basket Measure (MBM) is defined by Statistics Canada as the cost of a specific basket of goods and services representing a modest, basic standard of living in each of 50 MBM geographic regions in Canada.  Following are MBM threshold figures for Ontario for 2015.

Market Basket Measure (MBM) thresholds for economic families and persons not in economic families, 2015

MBM region Persons not in economic families Economic family size
2 persons 3 persons 4 persons 5 persons
Rural areas 18,356 25,959 31,793 36,711 41,044
Small population centres with less than 30,000 persons 18,254 25,815 31,617 36,508 40,817
Medium population centres with a population between 30,000 and 99,999 persons 17,166 24,276 29,732 34,332 38,384
Large urban population centres with a population between 100,000 and 499,999 persons 18,436 26,072 31,932 36,872 41,224
Ottawa – Gatineau (Ontario part) (CMA) 20,053 28,359 34,733 40,106 44,840
Hamilton (CMA) 18,536 26,214 32,105 37,072 41,448
Toronto (CMA) 20,298 28,705 35,156 40,595 45,387


Source:  Statistics Canada, September 13, 2017.
Retrieved from:  http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/ref/dict/tab/t4_5-eng.cfm

Food Security, Food Bank Use and Hunger Count in Niagara

In Canada in March of 2016, 863,492 people accessed a food bank. This is 1.3% higher than the same period in 2015, and 28% higher than in 2008.

The Food Banks Canada 2016 Hunger Count report points out that for these people, often there is a choice between buying groceries and paying rent.

One in 6 people assisted by food banks in Canada is employed.

Of the individuals served by food banks in March of 2016 in Canada, 335,944 were in Ontario (2.42% of the provincial population).  While this represents a provincial 6.4% decrease from the same period in 2015, a total of 49.3% of food banks in Ontario reported an increase in individuals being assisted in 2016. Of the individuals in Ontario served by food banks in 2016, 33.4% were under 18 years of age.

Source:  Food Banks Canada
Retrieved from: https://www.foodbankscanada.ca/hungercount2016

The 2016 report Examining Food Insecurity in Niagara: Through the Lens of Environment and Climate Impacts was prepared by Niagara Connects to describe the Greening Niagara project: Food Security in Niagara: A Collective Approach.

Suggested action steps arising from the collaborative work to describe food security in Niagara through the lens of environment and climate impact include:

  • Engage people in gathering additional information to support action planning for an urban agriculture center in Niagara.
  • Continue to connect this work with the overall work to advance a common vision for Food Systems in Niagara, facilitated by Niagara Connects.
  • Support efforts to gather additional data to describe food systems and food security in Niagara, and engage a broad range of participants to strengthen action planning.
  • Acknowledge and continue to support the value in the process of diverse players working and learning together to strengthen food security in Niagara.

Source: Greening Niagara
Retrieved from:  http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/community-blog/food-security-in-niagara-through-the-lens-of-environment-and-climate-impacts/

School Nutrition Programs:

Niagara Nutrition Partners is a region-wide initiative providing co-ordinated nutrition programs (breakfast snack and lunch) in elementary and secondary schools, as well as community based programs. NNP is able to offer support to nutrition programs through provincial grant programs and local fundraising efforts.

Niagara Nutrition Partners

Number of Students Served

Source: Niagara Nutrition Partners
Retrieved from:  http://www.niagaranutritionpartners.ca/

Social Assistance in Niagara

In 2016, Niagara’s Ontario Works (OW) caseload is showing early signs of stabilizing at less than the projected 3% caseload increase ending with a year-end caseload average of 10,826, representing approximately 18,000 individuals.

The following table summarizes the percentage of OW clients per Social Assistance and Employment Opportunities’ (SAEO) office:

St. Catharines Niagara Falls Welland Fort Erie Port Colborne Satellites – Beamsville, Smithville, Grimsby
OW Caseload 48% 23% 17% 7% 4% 1%

The following table summarizes the family composition of OW clients:

Single Sole Support Parent Couple Couple with Dependents
OW Caseload 63% 26% 4% 7%


The following table summarizes OW case types. “Intensive” cases most commonly provide supports to access addiction services. “Youth” refers to people under the age of 18 who are unable to reside in their parental home. “LEAP”, or “Learning, Earning, and Parenting”, are young parents under the age of 25. “Newcomers” have immigrated to Canada within the last five years. “ODSP” includes non-care giving spouses and non-disabled dependent adults.

General Intensive Youth LEAP Newcomer ODSP
OW Caseload 78% 8% 2% 1% 3% 3%


Most OW clients are between the ages of 19 and 39. 25% of the caseload exceeds the age of 40 years. The average age of an OW adult is 26 years, compared to the average age of Niagara residents, which is 44.

The male-to-female ratio of OW clients is 48:52, which is consistent with Niagara’s demographic composition.

Of the adult OW population, the most common education level achieved is high school (43%). Niagara as a whole has a higher level of education, showing 49% with post-secondary.

The following table illustrates OW monthly income benefit by family size/composition:

Single Single Parent (one child) Couple Couple (two children)
OW monthly income benefit $706/month $966/month $1095/month $1205/month


A single person receives a maximum of $376 for shelter and $330 for food/basic needs per month. The market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Niagara is $802 per month.

SAEO exceeded targets on two of four performance measures:

  • Percentage of caseload with earnings: target 13.65%, year-end average 15%
  • Of those who exited the OW system, the percentage that exited to employment: target 15.22%, year-end average 16%

Regional Council’s strategic priority project “Bend the Curve” involves the implementation of new technology that matches OW and ODSP clients to available training and job opportunities. The goal is to increase the number of clients with earnings and employment to further ‘bend the curve’ on the OW caseload.

SAEO exceeded the 2016 Bend the Curve new job starts and unique employer targets:

Measure Target Actual
2016 New Job Starts 1350 1911
2016 Unique Employers 650 1292


Source:  Niagara Region Community Services

Bankruptcies in Niagara

The following chart shows the distribution of bankruptcies by municipality in Niagara in 2013. Because these figures are reported by Forward Sortation Area (FSA; the first three digits of a postal code), some municipalities are grouped together under “rural Niagara”. These statistics come from Industry Canada and are provided by the Canadian Community Data Consortium.

Area Consumer bankruptcies, 2013 Business bankruptcies, 2013
Fort Erie 43 0
Grimsby 34 0
Niagara Falls 226 2
Port Colborne 56 1
Rural Niagara 61 7
St. Catharines 302 10
Welland 139 6
Total 861 26


Source; Industry Canada. (2016, June 13). Insolvency Data, ongoing (annual) [Data file].

Niagara Poverty Reduction and Prosperity Initiatives

The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network works collectively to wipe out poverty in Niagara through information-sharing, changing attitudes and compelling Niagara citizens to get involved and take action. The network’s 30 member organizations and community members work together on priorities such as gathering data to identify Cost of Living and Living Wage in the Niagara context.

Source: Niagara Poverty Reduction Network
Retrieved from: www.wipeoutpoverty.ca

The Niagara Prosperity Initiative (NPI) was established by Niagara Region in 2008, and provides an annual investment of $1.5 million to support poverty reduction and prevention activities. NPI Goals include:

  • Guide and direct investments on identified initiatives to alleviate poverty in neighbourhoods across Niagara
  • Advocate for change that will reduce and prevent poverty in the community
  • Develop and enhance collaborative relationships between stakeholders
  • Engage people living in poverty in meaningful ways to ensure that investments reflect need

Source: Niagara Region Social Services
Retrieved From: https://www.niagararegion.ca/social-services/niagara-prosperity-initiative/default.aspx

Niagara Prosperity Initiative

Source:  Niagara Prosperity Initiative Presentation by Niagara Region to Niagara Employment Network, June, 2016.
Retrieved From:  http://www.literacylinkniagara.ca/niagara-employment-network/

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