Not allowed to talk about poverty

BC Stats put out a release yesterday with the headline “Low Income Cut-Offs (LICOs) are a Poor Measure of Poverty” and author Dan Schrier gets in a dirty hit right in first paragraph:

Despite protestations from Statistics Canada that LICOs are not meant to be used as a measure of poverty, there are many groups that insist on using them for exactly that purpose.

We’ve heard this before from Statscan, it is not a new line. But it  is perhaps the most bogus argument ever. I have no problem with someone criticizing the shortcomings of the LICO, because no measure of a complex phenomenon like poverty is going to be perfect. There are Low Income Measures (LIMs) and Market-Based Measures (MBMs) too, though they tend to draw the same conclusions about the numbers. In the absence of an official poverty line and numbers, these are what academics and NGOs working on poverty issues will use.

What is irksome is someone from a stats agency, in this case working for the BC government, saying that because the official agencies refuse to define a measure of poverty and release the results, we the public cannot talk about how large poverty is. BC Stats released a similar such piece about a year ago so it clearly is a bee in Mr Schrier’s statistical bonnet.

But really, until you (Statscan, BC Stats or Dan Schrier) develop an official measure of poverty, stop the condescending finger-wagging at people who care about poverty and use LICOs.


  1. I can not agree with your assessment. Whether or not LICOs, LIM or MBMs are measures of poverty is irrelevant. What is relevant that of the developed nations in the world, Canada is one of the few that does not have an official definition of poverty. The issue is not whether LICO’s measure poverty. The issue is that we do not have an official measure, therefore, have no consensus as to what poverty is or is not, nor do have any clear idea or indication of how many Canadian’s actually live in poverty at any given point in time. Quibbling over whether or not LICOs should be treated as ‘poverty lines’ only detracts from the real issue. A government (actually many governments) that absolutely refuse to define poverty in any official capacity, therefore, absolving themselves of any responsibility to deal with it. That is what your friends in B.C. are doing. So rather than debate the efficacy of LICOs as poverty measures, why not cut to the chase and demand that your government develop an official measure, so that we can move on a talk about something meaningful – like what we are going to do about poverty?

    1. Very awesome points I would like to add to it. By not publishing an official poverty line (this is intentional) the crooked scandalous government were afflicted with does not have to recognize that the $23,000 unofficial poverty line if official would show that over half the population is living in or circling poverty. This would look back on global stage, and cost more money than the government is prepared to spend on its citizens. Look at the long history of broken promises to our First Nations people!! Harper is a racist and greedy ars#@ole who continued the tradition of only looking out for the rich by all of the previous PM’s. History shows these things clearly if you can dig the info up, the government will be quick to poor bash and claim welfare scammers are responsible for our troubled social programs but think of this One scandal say the gas plants, robo-calls, political back room deals – Duffy and our useless costly senate who who dont need they just eat up tax payer money and really do nothing anymore. One scandal runs into millions to billions but welfare scammers are barely 1% and if the costs were a few hundred to a few thousand at most because they watch and punish social program noncompliance at fierce level compared to the supposed transparency and “honesty” of politicians,

      Since Jack Leyton passed, R.I.P I have no respect nor any trust or faith for ANY politician, the BS Canadians endure is incredible. It will take a massive social movement, protests, demonstrations and rally’s to even be acknowledged by the government. As the track record for making change is slow and below minimal levels. Research studies and surveys taxpayers pay for at request of govt officials are ignored. over 130 recommendations in two different studies were all ignored and referred to as not useful and that the govt is already doing all it can to deal with poverty…how can you not call Bull S on that?

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