Canada’s poverty measure shows the high cost of necessities in Calgary

The latest Market Basket Measure numbers show Calgary's cost of living is the second highest in Canada

27 January 2023

hands holding an empty black wallet

Last week, Statistics Canada released an updated Market Basket Measure (MBM) which is Canada’s official measure of poverty. The MBM uses local data on things like food shelter and transportation and determines a threshold that would give an individual or family a modest, basic standard of living. If your income is less than the MBM, you’re considered to be living in income poverty or under the poverty line. Using this threshold, the government of Canada has established targets for reducing poverty – their current goal is to reduce the poverty rate by 50% from its 2015 level.  

Statistics Canada prices the MBM for 53 different geographic areas. 

Calgary’s MBM was the second highest in Canada. This means that basic necessities in our city cost more than every other major city in Canada with the exception of Vancouver. Below are the top five cities and their MBM threshold in dollars.

If you’re wondering how costs in Vancouver can be so similar to Calgary or why our shelter numbers are so close to Toronto’s, you’re not alone. These are questions that VCC will be asking over the coming weeks as we explore affordability in our city.

Government policy is important in poverty reduction

Learn about how Edmonton and Calgary are working together to push the needle.