MPI: Professor Geranda Notten's contribution to a powerful tool for better understanding and combating poverty in Canada

The Material Deprivation Index (MPI) represents a major step forward in the fight against poverty in Canada. Unlike traditional measures based solely on income, such as the Market Basket Measure (MBM), the MPI offers a more complete and nuanced understanding of the reality of poverty by taking into account access to goods and services essential for an acceptable standard of living.

This index sheds light on hidden poverty in Canada by evaluating concrete situations deemed necessary by the majority of Canadians for a decent standard of living. For example, the MPI checks whether a person can keep their home at a comfortable temperature all year round, including a total of eleven similar criteria. In 2023, the MPI reveals that one in four Canadians aged 18 and over is unable to afford at least two of these items, and of these, 6 million have incomes above the poverty line. This is due to the inability of official measures of income poverty to capture the diversity of individual needs and situations, such as variations in housing costs or medical expenses not covered by employers.

The MPI has concrete impacts on public policy, awareness and social justice. It provides decision-makers with crucial data for developing more effective and better-targeted anti-poverty programs, tackling not only lack of income, but also the impact of programs that reduce the cost of living, such as subsidized housing, childcare, pharmacare and public transport. It also raises public awareness of the complexity of poverty and the inequalities that underlie it, thereby contributing to a more just and equitable society.

The MPI report recommends that Statistics Canada integrate this index into its surveys and analyses, thereby deepening understanding of poverty and guiding public policy more effectively. It also proposes that Canadian governments use this index as a complementary measure of poverty to assess progress in poverty reduction and analyze the effects of government efforts.

The creation of the MPI is the result of a close collaboration between Food Banks Canada, the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security, Maytree and the Environics Institute for Survey Research. This unique initiative brought together a wide range of expertise, from statistical research to hands-on experience of poverty, under the academic direction of Professor Geranda Notten.

Professor Notten's contribution to this project testifies to her commitment to knowledge mobilization. Her expertise in comparative public policy, and more specifically in poverty and social protection, has been essential to the development of this indispensable tool for understanding and combating poverty. As a full professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, Geranda Notten inspires the next generation of researchers and policy-makers to approach complex social issues with rigor and compassion. Her work on the IPM is a concrete example of how academic research Faculty of Social Sciencescan have a direct and positive impact on society by providing decision-makers with tools to better understand and respond to the needs of vulnerable populations.

To find out more, consult the MPI technical and non-technical reports.

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