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Income gap narrowed in Kootenay Boundary in 2020, data reveals

Low income data from 2020 shows a decrease in the percentage of people with low income compared to previous years, according to a report from Selkirk Innovates.

Statistics Canada says the reduction in persons with low income during the five years between 2015 and 2020 “was the largest decline of any five-year period since 1976.” Selkirk Innovates says the decrease is partly attributed to government benefits distributed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Taxfiler data, people with low income in B.C. decreased from 19.3 per cent in 2015 to 13.2 per cent in 2020. However, the decrease was greatest between 2019 and 2020, coinciding with the pandemic and pandemic-related government benefits.

A similar decrease occurred across all Columbia Basin-Boundary regional districts during these same periods, as seen in the graph below.

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Low income measure data are derived by comparing a person’s income to the national low income measure threshold for their family size. A person below this threshold is considered low income. According to Statistics Canada, for the rate to fall, as seen in 2020, “the income gap between lower-income people and other people has to narrow.”

Due in part to the conclusion of emergency government transfers over the last two years, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit in 2020 and Canada Recovery Benefit in 2021, the decreasing trend in people with low income is not expected to continue.

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