Montreal's Vital Signs 2010
The little money that low-income residents have is definitely a major preoccupation in their lives. They need money not only for transportation and entertainment, but first and foremost, for healthy eating and proper housing.
  • pommeBetween 2001 and 2006, the more privileged families in Greater Montreal saw their income increase by 17%, while less well-to-do families experienced a rise of 19.7%. This resulted in a reduction in the largest gap (-1.8%) among Canadian cities, ahead of Ottawa (-1%). On the other hand, in Calgary (+1.7%), Toronto (+3.3%), and especially Vancouver (+5.9%), there was a notable increase in the gap between rich and poor. 1
  • In 2008, 18% of the population of Greater Montreal lived below the low-income* threshold - the highest proportion in Canadian cities – increasing by 3 points from last year, and nearly 40% since 1985. 2
    *Relative measure of low-income families, based on 50% of their median income (after tax) according to the census, and adjusted relative to their type and size.
  • In 2008, 19.5% of children and adolescents in Greater Montreal lived in poverty. After hovering around 16% in 1985 and 1990, this rate experienced a significant increase in 1995 (24.4%), and then a decline until 2005 (11.8%), and it has clearly increased since 2007 (16.5%). 3
  • On the island, in 2009, 31% of public elementary students attended disadvantaged schools. A large gap existed between the West Island sector (1%) and that of South-West Verdun (69%). And this trend was even more notable among high school students (0% vs. 77%), of which 28% overall attended a disadvantaged school. 4
  • In 2008, 18.8% of seniors in the region lived in low-income situations, similar to the Quebec average (18.7%), but well above the Canadian average (12.3%). 5
  • In 2008, if goods cost an average of $100 in all major Canadian cities, they cost $95 in Montreal. Fruit and vegetables ($106), as well as water and energy ($107) were more expensive, while at the opposite extreme, housing and rent ($82), or ownership ($86), as well as recreation, reading and training ($86) were more affordable. 6
  • In 2009, 70% of the population on the island didn’t eat the minimum required amount of fruit and vegetables. And the poor lacked 21% of the income required to adequately feed their families - after housing-related expenses were paid. 7
  • In January 2010, on the island, the cost of healthy nutrition was estimated at $6.90 per day per person for a typical family [40 year-old parents, 16-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter], or $837 per month. This represents an increase of $175 (+26.4%) in five years, since in January 2005, the same monthly grocery basket totalled $662. 8
  • Since its inception in 1980, the cost of a metro bus pass (CAM) represented 2.9% of a minimum wage earner’s monthly income. This proportion reached 5.1% in 2010 after declining for several years. 9
  • In 2009, public elementary and high school students were twice as likely to live in a low income sector on the island if they were born outside Canada like their parents (46%), or if they were born in Canada to immigrant parents (39%), or born here like their parents (22%), or one of their parents was born outside Canada (20%). 10
  • Based on a study conducted in Laval and Montreal of 1,206 students in eight high schools, several factors predispose youth to play video lottery terminals: boys (twice the risk), those who do not go directly home after school (3 times), and those who have friends who play on these terminals (6 times). It was also noted that these systems were significantly more accessible in lower income areas. Video lottery terminals are also the most lucrative game activity. Less than 10% of the adult population play these games. In 2007, video lotteries generated close to half of the net earnings of all national games. 11
  • Homelessness is frequently the fate of vulnerable and fragile persons with mental illness. Serious psychiatric illness affects almost 35% of itinerants, and an equal percentage have already attempted suicide, compared to 0.7% in the general population. 12
enfant au Club des petits déjeuners
© Marie-Reine Mattera
dotIn 1994, armed with the experience of foreign humanitarian aid, Daniel Germain founded the Club des petits déjeuners in a low-income elementary school in Longueuil. The goal was simple, and the results speak for themselves: attending class after eating well is essential to academic success. In the last year, Club volunteers served more than one million breakfasts to some 7,500 students from 96 schools in Greater Montreal, and 51 schools off the island. But the Club does so much more. All Club activities strive to promote respect, nourish self-esteem and stimulate cooperation among youth. And to close the circle, the Club is also a partner in the United Nations global food program, in order to provide help to improve the lot of children in the world. 13

1 Special request based on tax data, Statistics Canada

2 Income trends in Canada, Cansim Table 202-0802, Statistics Canada

3 Income trends in Canada, Cansim Table 202-0802, Statistics Canada

4 Défavorisation scolaire 2008-2009, Direction de santé publique, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal, 2009

5 Income trends in Canada, Cansim Table 202-0802, Statistics Canada

6 Inter-city indexes of consumer price levels, October 2008, Statistics Canada

7 Consultation sur le deuxième Plan d’action gouvernemental en matière de pauvreté et d’exclusion sociale. Mémoire présenté par l’Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal au ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale, 15 décembre 2009, 23 p.

8 Coût du panier à provisions nutritif, Dispensaire diététique de Montréal, janvier 2010, 2 p.ût-PPN%20fr.pdf

  Pratiques et perceptions liées à l'alimentation. Ce que nous apprennent les personnes à faible revenu, par Lise Bertrand, Janine Desrosiers-Choquette, Marie-Paule Duquette et Caroline Marier, Vol 12, N° 2, Dispensaire diététique de Montréal et Direction de santé publique, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal, décembre 2009

9 Le transport urbain, une question de santé Rapport annuel 2006 sur la santé de la population montréalaise, Direction de santé publique, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal, 2006

  Site de la Société de Transport de Montréal (STM)
  Site de la Commission des normes du travail du Québec

10 Portrait socioculturel des élèves inscrits dans les écoles publiques de l’île de Montréal. Inscriptions au 30 septembre 2008, par Dominique Sévigny, Comité de gestion de la taxe scolaire de l’île de Montréal, 2009, 491 p.

11 La loterie vidéo dans les quartiers de Montréal : une approche géomatique, par Nancy Ross, Jason Gilliland, Dana Wilson, Jeffrey Derevensky, Rina Gupta, Sherry Olson et Ian Haase, Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, 2006, 61 p.
  S’occuper des jeux de hasard et d’argent, Direction de santé publique, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal

12 Le phénomène de l’itinérance au Québec, Mémoire présenté à la Commission des Affaires sociales, Centre de santé et de Services sociaux Jeanne-Mance, Montréal, octobre 2008, 37 p.

13 Site du Club des petits déjeuners du Québec et Manon Langevin