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Although the differences between urban and rural Canada have been studied extensively, the issue of low income1 in rural areas and how it compares to low income in urban areas has not been examined in great detail.  A review of Canadian literature yielded only a few recent papers looking specifically into the issue of low income in rural Canada2.

The objective of this paper is to document the characteristics of the rural and urban working poor – specifically, those individuals living in a low-income economic family unit (see Box 1)  in 2003, who were not full-time students and who worked for pay for at least one hour in 2003. We then present some of the factors associated with their situation (Box 1). The results of this study are derived from Statistics Canada's Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (see Box 2).


  1. Specifically, the percent of individuals living in family units with income below a low income threshold.
  2. See Rupnik (2001), Heisz (2001), Singh (2004), Vera-Toscano (2001), Burns et al. (forthcoming) and Chokie and Partridge (2006).  Interestingly, one needs to go back to the early 1970s to find other studies on low income in rural Canada (Pepin, 1968; Mann, 1970; Schram, 1973 and Bussey, 1973).