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Maytree: Reducing poverty among minimum wage workers in Ontario

30 March 2023

Maytree and Community Food Centres Canada have proposed the development of the Canada Working-Age Supplement (CWAS) by enhancing the existing Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) for working age single adults without children (or unattached single adults). The groups believe the CWAS has the potential to reduce the depth of poverty experienced by unattached single adults across Canada. Findings show that the introduction of the CWAS would help full-time minimum wage workers pass Canada's Official Poverty Line, indicated by Market Basket Measure (MBM), while part-time workers would pass the deep income poverty threshold (calculated to be 75 per cent of the MBM). The recommended model would establish a floor amount of $3,000 with a $1,000 employment boost, for a maximum CWAS benefit of $4,000, an improvement over the current CWB’s floor amount of $0 for those who earn under $3,000 from employment. The brief examines five examples of minimum wage workers in Ontario and shows how the CWAS would impact their income. The goal is to help these workers earn enough to pass Canada's Official Poverty Line, which is a measure of how much income someone needs to have a basic standard of living.

Key insights

  • Unattached working-age single adults experience the highest and deepest rates of poverty across Canada.
  • In 2019, about 34 per cent of unattached working-age single adults lived below Canada’s Official Poverty Line, over three times the national poverty rate.
  • Over half the 1.8 million people living in deep poverty in Canada were unattached working-age single adults.


Overall, the article recommends the introduction of the CWAS to help reduce poverty among single adults without children who work minimum wage jobs in Ontario. The proposed plan would offer a floor benefit to those who currently receive no support and increase the maximum benefit for those who do. By doing this, the CWAS could help improve the quality of life for many people and reduce the depth of poverty that they experience.

Read the policy brief here

About Maytree
Maytree has been working on poverty solutions with various non-profit organizations, institutions and governments since 1982. Their work aims to reduce poverty by using a human rights approach. Maytree believes the key to fixing systems that create poverty is to ensure all those living in Canada have their economic and social rights respected, protected and fulfilled. They achieve this by listening to the voices of the communities and organizations they work with to understand their needs.