Canada sees 60% increase in homeless support workers over 5 years

Published May 12, 2023 9:39 p.m. ET

Share this story:

A man rests outside a tent at a homeless camp at a parking lot on Port of Vancouver property in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, June 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

As homelessness in Canada grows, the number of workers in the homelessness support sector has also been increasing.

According to Statistics Canada, the sector saw a 60.7 per cent increase in workers between 2016 and 2021, when there were 10,130 people employed in the field. StatCan says that this outpaced the growth in all other sectors by 3.4 per cent.

The majority of homelessness support workers lived in larger urban areas (70.8 per cent), with over half working in Ontario (4,000 workers) and B.C. (2,270 workers). Nearly half of all workers were in Canada's largest cities: Toronto (15.6 per cent), Vancouver (12.3 per cent), Montréal (8.2 per cent), Edmonton (4.4 per cent), Ottawa–Gatineau (4.3 per cent) and Calgary (3.8 per cent). Nine per cent of workers were in rural areas.

"The homelessness support sector provides support to individuals experiencing homelessness, and to individuals accessing services that are targeted toward those at risk of facing housing crises," StatCan said in a report released on Wednesday. "Homelessness support sector workers can be found in the community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services industry."

Nearly three quarters of workers in this sector were women (73.8 per cent) according to 2021 Census data, compared to just under half (48.2 per cent) in all occupations. Nearly eighty per cent more men entered the sector between 2016 and 2021, bringing the total to 2,655 men and 7,475 women.

The fastest growing age cohort were workers aged 15 to 24, which more than doubled in size from 625 to 1,455. Workers in one-parent family households also increased by 94 per cent.

Eleven per cent of workers had an Indigenous identity, a 65.7 per cent increase over 2016. Over one in four workers (28.4 per cent) were part of a racialized group, a 134.1 per cent increase.

Almost four out of 10 (39.8 per cent) had a bachelor's degree, an 82.6 per cent increase over 2016, including nearly one in ten who held a graduate degree.

Homeless workers were also more likely to live in poverty (6.7 per cent) than all other sectors (six per cent). Their median employment income was $34,000 in 2020; a 3.4 per cent reduction from 2016. In the same period, all other sectors saw a four per cent increase to $41,200, not adjusted for inflation.

More than 235,000 people in Canada experience homelessness in any given year, according to previous StatCan data, a number that’s beengrowing but difficult to calculate.

Read the original version