Access to data has become more important than ever. Not only is data important for evidenced based policy making, but also to inform the general public by making important information visible. In either case, data can be a catalyst for change. However, even when comprehensive data is available, it is not always easily accessible for the general public. The intent of this map is facilitate greater accessibility of publically available data from Statistics Canada, making visible key indicators that show which areas across Canada are vulnerable to poverty and hunger. It is also hoped that this map will enable and facilitate conversations between civil society, government and other interested parties about how best to address poverty and hunger in their communities.


Created by Jordan Sparrow

Made possible in part through assistance from Mapbox Community


This project was created to enable the consumption and understanding of data related to poverty vulnerability across Canada.

The code and a more detailed methodology are available on Food Banks Canada's GitHub account with the hope that the project will benefit the eradication of poverty as much as possible.

The team is grateful to CCUSA for making their code available open source resulting in the allowance of inspiration and code examples to be drawn from their Disaster Operations Map


Key Indicators

Variables were chosen based on their availability at the Federal Electoral District and Aggregate Dissemination Area geographic levels, as well as their relevance and impact on experiences of poverty and food insecurity. Statistics Canada does not provide access to data from sparsely populated areas due to privacy concerns as the data could potentially be used to identify households. Access to data from the territories is limited. Food security data collected from the Canada Community Health Survey was excluded because it is not available at the Federal Electoral District level.

Child Poverty Data

A big thank you to Campaign2000 for providing low-income rates for children based on the most current available data from the T1 Family File (T1FF) 2017. The child poverty rate variable is only available for Federal Electoral Districts, Provinces, and Territories.

Census Indicators

All census key indicator variables for Canadian Provinces, Territories, Federal Electoral Districts, and Aggregate Dissemination Areas were sourced from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census Program

Indicator Statistics Canada Description
Population, 2016 Statistics Canada is committed to protect the privacy of all Canadians and the confidentiality of the data they provide to us. As part of this commitment, some population counts of geographic areas are adjusted in order to ensure confidentiality.
The adjustment to counts of the total population for any dissemination block is controlled to ensure that the population counts for dissemination areas will always be within 5 of the actual values. The adjustment has no impact on the population counts of census divisions and large census subdivisions.
Median total income of households in 2015 ($) Total income - The sum of certain incomes (in cash and, in some circumstances, in kind) of the statistical unit during a specified reference period.
In the context of households, total income refers to receipts from certain sources of all household members, before income taxes and deductions, during a specified reference period.
Median income - The median income of a specified group is the amount that divides the income distribution of that group into two halves, i.e., the incomes of half of the units in that group are below the median, while those of the other half are above the median. Median incomes of households are calculated for all units, whether or not they had income.
Prevalence of low income based on the Low-income measure, after tax (LIM-AT) (%) Low-income status - The income situation of the statistical unit in relation to a specific low-income line in a reference year. Statistical units with income that is below the low-income line are considered to be in low income.
For the 2016 Census, the reference period is the calendar year 2015 for all income variables.
The low-income concepts are not applied in the territories and in certain areas based on census subdivision type (such as Indian reserves). The existence of substantial in-kind transfers (such as subsidized housing and First Nations band housing) and sizeable barter economies or consumption from own production (such as product from hunting, farming or fishing) could make the interpretation of low-income statistics more difficult in these situations.
Low-income measure, after tax (LIM-AT) - The Low-income measure, after tax, refers to a fixed percentage (50%) of median-adjusted after-tax income of private households. The household after-tax income is adjusted by an equivalence scale to take economies of scale into account. This adjustment for different household sizes reflects the fact that a household's needs increase, but at a decreasing rate, as the number of members increases.
Using data from the 2016 Census of Population, the line applicable to a household is defined as half the Canadian median of the adjusted household after-tax income multiplied by the square root of household size. The median is determined based on all persons in private households where low-income concepts are applicable. Thresholds for specific household sizes are presented in Table 4.2 Low-income measures thresholds (LIM-AT and LIM-BT) for private households of Canada, 2015, Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.
When the unadjusted after-tax income of household pertaining to a person falls below the threshold applicable to the person based on household size, the person is considered to be in low income according to LIM-AT. Since the LIM-AT threshold and household income are unique within each household, low-income status based on LIM-AT can also be reported for households.
Prevalence of low income - The proportion or percentage of units whose income falls below a specified low-income line.
Housing Affordability
% of tenant households spending 30% or more of its income on shelter costs
Shelter-cost-to-income ratio - Refers to the proportion of average total income of household which is spent on shelter costs.
Shelter-cost-to-income ratio is calculated for private households living in owned or rented dwellings who reported a total household income greater than zero.
Private households living in band housing, located on an agricultural operation that is operated by a member of the household, and households who reported a zero or negative total household income are excluded.
The relatively high shelter-costs-to-household income ratios for some households may have resulted from the difference in the reference period for shelter costs and household total income data. The reference period for shelter cost data is 2016, while household total income is reported for the year 2015. As well, for some households, the 2015 household total income may represent income for only part of a year.
For more information on household total income or shelter costs, refer to the Census Dictionary: Total income and Shelter cost
Unemployment Rate Refers to the unemployed expressed as a percentage of the labour force in the week of Sunday, May 1 to Saturday, May 7, 2016.
Early enumeration was conducted in remote, isolated parts of the provinces and territories in February, March and April 2016. When enumeration has taken place before May 2016, the reference date used is the date on which the household was enumerated.
Indigenous Identity Aboriginal identity refers to whether the person identified with the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. This includes those who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or those who are Registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada) and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
Users should be aware that the estimates associated with this variable are more affected than most by the incomplete enumeration of certain Indian reserves and Indian settlements in the 2016 Census of Population. For more information on Aboriginal variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, refer to the Aboriginal Peoples Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016 and the Aboriginal Peoples Technical Report, Census of Population, 2016.
Visible Minority Visible minority refers to whether a person belongs to a visible minority group as defined by the Employment Equity Act and, if so, the visible minority group to which the person belongs. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour." The visible minority population consists mainly of the following groups: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese.
For more information on the Visible minority variable, including information on its classification, the questions from which it is derived, data quality and its comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Visible Minority and Population Group Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016
The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as 'persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.'
Recent Immigration, 2011 to 2016 Immigrant status refers to whether the person is a non-immigrant, an immigrant or a non-permanent resident. Period of immigration refers to the period in which the immigrant first obtained landed immigrant or permanent resident status. For more information on immigration variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Place of Birth, Generation Status, Citizenship and Immigration Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016
'Immigrants' includes persons who are, or who have ever been, landed immigrants or permanent residents. Such persons have been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Immigrants who have obtained Canadian citizenship by naturalization are included in this category. In the 2016 Census of Population, 'Immigrants' includes immigrants who landed in Canada on or prior to May 10, 2016.

Geographic Data

Geography Notes Source
Federal Electoral District Polygons Cartographic boundary files of all Federal Electoral Districts of the 2013 Representation Order and used during the 2016 Census Statistics Canada
Aggregate Dissemination Area Polygons Cartographic boundary files of all Aggregate Dissemination Areas used during the 2016 Census Statistics Canada
Nutritious Food Basket Costs March 2018 values of the Revised Northern Food Basket (RNFB) in communities eligible for the Nutrition North Canada program. The amounts are estimates of what it cost to feed a family of four a healthy diet for one week. The cost of the basket was calculated price data provided by the following retailers: Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, North West Company, Rampart, and Stanton.
Community coordinates were approximated. Much like the rest of this map, they are not intended for navigational purposes.
Nutrition North Canada
Food Bank Locations The organizations listed on the map are those food banks and other programs which participated in the HungerCount in 2018 and/or 2019 – a total of 2536 organizations. Not all of these organizations could be mapped because of errors in or unavailability of postal codes. Of the organizations and food banks listed on the map, some are “hubs” which distribute food to community agencies like food pantries, shelters, and after school programs that rely on food to deliver their support. Others food banks are serve people directly, and some food banks do both. On the map, in many cases only the locations of the “hubs” are provided, even though their membership includes food banks and other programs in their areas. This is the case for larger cities like Vancouver and Toronto. When those organizations that are not listed on the map are included, there are approximately 5000. Points were approximated based on food bank postal codes and are not intended for navigational purposes. Food Banks Canada
Postal Code Conversion File The postal code conversion file was acquired from Geocoder.ca and was used for geocoding food bank location points. The team is grateful to Geocoder.ca for providing this product free of charge for not-for-profit use. GeoCoder.ca

Further Reading

This map presents key indicators that can help give insights as to which areas across Canada are vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity. However, it is not a comprehensive list, nor does it fully explain the multitude of factors that contribute to poverty in a particular area or region.

For further information on poverty and food insecurity, here are some helpful resources: