Montreal's working poor on the rise, study finds

One in four residents in the Montreal region between the ages of 18 and 64 is part of the "working poor," a new study says.

Single mothers, recent immigrants most likely to live below poverty line, despite having jobs

About 126,000 Montrealers are among the 'working poor,' people who have jobs but still live below the poverty line, a new study has found. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

For a growing number of Montrealers, having a job doesn't translate into rising above poverty.

One in four people between the ages of 18 and 64 in Greater Montreal – which includes Montreal, Laval and the North and South Shores – can be counted among the "working poor," according to a study released Monday.

The study, a joint effort by Centraide of Greater Montreal and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), found that between 2001 and 2012, the number of those who count themselves among the working poor has grown by more than 30 per cent.

In 2001, there were about 91,000 people in the region who fell under that category. By 2012, there were about 126,000.

There is no official definition for the term "working poor," and so the study's authors defined those who fall into that category as follows:

  • Aged between 18 to 64.
  • Have a household revenue below Statistics Canada's low income measure.
  • Earn at least $3,000 annually.
  • Live alone or with a spouse (as opposed to with parents or other family members).
  • Are not students.

Who are the working poor?

The study found that 38 per cent of the working poor are single parents, mainly women.

Recent immigrants are five times more likely than non-immigrants to be part of the group.

The highest rates of working poor are found in the following Montreal neighbourhoods:

  • Parc-Extension: 30.7 per cent.
  • Côte-des-Neiges: 18.9 per cent.
  • Little Burgundy: 18.5 per cent.
  • Pointe-Saint-Charles: 18.2 per cent.
  • Saint-Michel: 17.6 per cent.
  • Saint-Henri: 17.5 per cent.

"In Montreal, there is an 11-year discrepancy in life expectancy between some rich and poor neighbourhoods," said Lili-Anna Peresa, president and executive director of Centraide of Greater Montreal, in a statement.

"That is why it is so important to intervene as early as possible with children and their families in order to break the cycle of poverty,"