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More than two-thirds of Canadians received help during the pandemic

More than two-thirds of Canadians received some form of financial assistance from governments to cushion the blow of the pandemic in its first year.

Of a total of just over 30 million Canadians aged 15 and older, 20.7 million — or 68.4% — benefited from at least one program aimed at mitigating the financial impact of COVID-19. 19 in 2020, reported Tuesday Statistics Canada based on information collected during the last census. In fact, this proportion was even higher for most Canadians (excluding the richest and the poorest), as well as for women, the youngest and oldest people, and for the Quebecois.

In 2020, Canada ranked fourth among G20 countries in its pandemic-related aid spending, with $270 billion in support to individuals and businesses, or 12.3% of its proceeds. gross domestic (GDP). It was exceeded in this only by Australia (15.3%), the United States (14.4%) and Japan (13.8%), had then noted the International Monetary Fund.

The PCU and the others

Of that $270 billion, half ($135.5 billion) was paid by the federal and provincial governments directly to individuals in the form of new emergency and recovery benefits (such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit), top-up existing programs (such as an enhanced Canada child benefit and GST-QST credit) and an improved employment insurance program.

The other half of financial assistance from governments took the form of wage subsidies and direct assistance to businesses, which Statistics Canada did not take into account in its examination.

Of all the measures, it is the additional payment of the GST-QST refund program that has benefited the greatest number of Canadians, more than a third (36%). Aimed at low- and middle-income households, it amounted that year to a median amount of $424. The CERB came in second, hitting the quarter of Canadians with the highest median benefits of all, at $8,000 per beneficiary. In third place is the one-time top-up Old Age Security benefit of $300 paid to almost nine out of 10 Canadians aged 65 and over.

As these multiple measures could overlap, just under 10 million Canadians benefited from a single program, 6.7 million from two programs and 4.5 million from three or more programs.

Between rich and poor

First hit by the crisis, women were more likely (75%) than men (62%) to receive aid, notably in the form of an improved child allowance (23% against only 1%) .

Hit en masse by job losses, young people aged 20 to 24 were also much more numerous (88%) than Canadians aged 25 to 54 (67%) or 55 to 64 (50%) in be entitled to at least one assistance program, in particular the CERB (45%) and the credit for GST-QST (75%). However, people aged 65 and over were the most likely (92%) to receive help.

Logically, the wealthiest have been less likely to receive special financial assistance from governments, with 27% of Canadians belonging to the wealthiest 10%, but with a proportion that increases rapidly to 47% and 64 %, respectively, for the 9e and 8e deciles, just below.

Paradoxically, the poorest 10% of Canadians were also less likely (30%) to receive assistance, in part because these people “were less likely to qualify for emergency and recovery benefits,” notes Statistics Canada.

Between the two extremes, the proportion has nothing to do and rises between 78% (7e decile) and 93% (4e decile). Ranging from median sums of $640 (7e decile) to $2600 (2e decile), the amounts represented on average more than 13% of the after-tax income of Canadians who were entitled to it, but from 19% to 58% of the income of the poorest third.

These gaps are almost as pronounced across age groups, with financial support for the youngest accounting for an average of 29% of the income of their recipients aged 20 to 24—and even 43% of those aged 15 to 19. —, compared to 11% among those aged 25 to 54, 17% among those aged 55 to 64 and only 6% among those aged 65 and over.

And Quebec

With a Canadian average of 68%, Quebec (71%) is one of the provinces where the highest proportion of the population received assistance during the pandemic, along with British Columbia (75%) and New Brunswick (70%). These differences are explained by a greater offer of programs in certain provinces, but also by the incomes and the demographic composition of the populations, explains Statistics Canada.

Quebec is also one of the places where the most citizens have received emergency and recovery benefits (29% against a Canadian average of 25%), alongside Alberta (29%).

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