Quebec allophones, anglophones more likely than francophones to live below poverty line, study finds

The findings, compiled from 2016 census data by the Association for Canadian Studies, fly in the face of a longstanding perception that Quebec anglophones are mostly well off.

Jack Jedwab's findings 'useful,' tweets Anglo services minister as Quebec launches $3B anti-poverty plan

The findings, compiled by the president of the Association for Canadian Studies, Jack Jedwab, fly in the face of a perception that Quebec anglophones are generally better off than francophones. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

A higher percentage of Quebec's anglophones live in poverty than francophones, a recent study has found.

The findings, compiled from 2016 census data by demographer Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, fly in the face of a longstanding perception that Quebec anglophones are mostly well off.

"No matter how one slices this, whether it's on the basis of [...] being below an income bar, or taking into account lower cost of living, anglophones still fall below the lower income lines more often than francophones do in Quebec," Jedwab told CBC News.

The study examines poverty based on several factors, including age, unemployment, ethnicity and region.

It found that across all regions of Quebec, anglophones are more likely than francophones to be living below the poverty line.

When it comes to age, only francophones aged 65 or older are more likely to be living below the poverty line than anglophones in the same age group.

In this study, anglophones are defined as those whose first official spoken language is English, which includes a number of immigrants and people from various ethnic communities, Jedwab said.

'Allophones have it the hardest'

Overall, Quebecers whose first language is neither English nor French are the most likely to be living in poverty.

"Allophones have it the hardest," Jedwab said.

Many are recent immigrants, and they tend to be clustered in Montreal.

In Montreal, 9.7 per cent of allophones are unemployed, compared to eight per cent of anglophones and six per cent of francophones.

The unemployed tend to spend a greater proportion of their income on the basics — shelter, food and clothing.

Jedwab's data also shows that visible minorities are more likely to find themselves living in poverty.

Challenging perceptions

For Jedwab, the study's findings challenge the longstanding perception that Quebec's anglophones are all well off.

"That's an incorrect assumption. The census data very much confirms that," he said.

It is true that, on average, Quebec anglophones earn more than either francophones or allophones. However, that is because extremely high income earners skew the numbers.

About seven per cent of anglophones earn at least $100,000, compared to 5.3 per cent of francophones and four per cent of allophones.

'Useful data': Kathleen Weil

The study comes just weeks after the Quebec government's announcement of a $3-billion anti-poverty plan, which aims to lift 100,000 Quebecers out of poverty by 2023.

"I applaud the government's investment in fighting poverty for the next five years," said Jedwab, "but it would help if it would give us a really good analysis of who's living in poverty and why."

Jedwab said that in developing its anti-poverty strategy, it's important for the government to take into account the diversity of the population and address any inequities that may arise.

Quebec's minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil, weighed in on Jedwab's study Tuesday, calling the data "useful."

With files from Arian Zarrinkoub