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Income and voter turnout in Canada

Income and voter turnout in Canada

For years, Canada has seen a gradual decline in voter turnout in elections across the country.

At the federal level, voter turnout has steadily gone down since the 1990s to a low of 58% in the 2008 election. At the provincial level, Ontario set an all-time low in 2011 with a voter turnout below 49%. As Elections Canada and other organizations actively pursue ‘get out the vote’ campaigns, it is difficult to predict whether voter turnout will increase in the upcoming federal election.

Are people with lower incomes less likely to vote?

There are different reasons and theories for declining voter turnout, but there is some evidence that some specific socio-economic groups are less likely to vote than others.

Even though there is surprisingly little direct evidence about the correlation between income and voting, there are some compelling numbers that offer some clues. According to Statistics Canada, unemployed individuals are significantly less likely to vote than people who are employed. As well, renters are less likely to vote than homeowners. As our HungerCount 2014 report shows, people who access food banks are very likely to be both unemployed and living in rental housing.

What food banks are doing during Election 2015

The food bank network has a unique ability to talk about the importance of voting, and to help shape the political discourse in ridings across the country. With thousands of people and organizations spread out across Canada, food banks are in a position to inform the public (including the people they help) about relevant issues, and to make the problems that affect low-income Canadians heard during this election.

Food banks are hosting candidate’s debates, meeting with candidates and informing them and the public about the realities facing the hundreds of thousands of people helped by food banks each and every month.

Food banks are raising important issues – such as high levels of household food insecurity, the pressing need for affordable housing, and the shortage of skills training for low-skilled workers – in an effort to build support for policies that will reduce the need for food banks.

To help food banks take on this important task, Food Banks Canada has developed an election toolkit to help guide them during this period. Read the full toolkit here.

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Hunger Facts



of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)