Surrey’s Social Plan recognizes that “an inclusive city is one where everyone can participate and benefit from opportunities offered, regardless of economic means.” While there is the potential for families and individuals living in Surrey to benefit from the economic and social opportunities that come with the growth and change that the city is experiencing, there is also the need to work actively to ensure that such opportunities are available to everyone. For some, this might mean improving access to training programs and other initiatives designed to provide greater financial stability to low income families and individuals who are living from paycheque to paycheque. For others, it might mean working to strengthen and enhance the social safety net.

See Income Fact Sheet based on 2011 Census. See below for a graph defining Low Income Measure.

Key facts

  • Some households are at greater risk of poverty and exclusion. This includes single parent families, recent immigrants and single person households (senior and non-senior).
  • Households relying on income assistance are living well below the Low Income Measure (LIM). For example, a single person on income assistance receives only $610 per month, or $7,320 per year, to live on. This is considerably below the low-income measure of $19,460 (after tax) per year for a single person household. Likewise, a couple with two children receives $1,101 per month, or $13,212 per year, below the low income measure of $38,920 for a family of four.
  • Income assistance rates have not increased since 2008 while the cost of food, shelter and other basic essentials has continued to increase.
  • A minimum wage of $10.25 per hour, assuming a 37.5 hour week, translates into an annual income of $19,988. This income level is just above the low income measure for a single person household, and significantly below LIM for a single parent with one child.
  • Targeted initiatives like the Federal Child Tax Benefit and OAS/GIS can play a critical role in helping to lift low income families and individuals out of poverty and help to provide the foundation needed for moving forward.

Current initiatives

Below are some examples of initiatives underway:

  • The City of Surrey has taken a leadership role in advocating for the federal government to terminate the transportation loan program for government assisted refugees (GARs). Currently GARS, who are humanitarian refugees in desperate need of protection, are required to repay the costs associated with their transportation to Canada and their pre-entry medical costs.
  • The Metro Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Strategy (MVUAS) helped to facilitate a partnership between the City of Surrey, the City of Vancouver and ACCESS (an Aboriginal employment agency) to create opportunities for Aboriginal people to develop skills needed to access administrative opportunities within local government including positions within the library system.15
  • The Surrey Public Library, in partnership with OPTIONS, organizes an employment workshop for newcomers, which helps to provide them with the information and skills that they need to find suitable and appropriate work.16
  • The Employment Centre for Persons with Disabilities (ERCPD), located in Surrey, provides employment services to assist people with disabilities to attach to the labour market.17
  • Federal initiatives such as the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), the Child Care Tax Benefit (CCTB) and BC’s Family Bonus have helped improve the economic situation of many low income families with this support often lifting a family out of poverty.
  • The assistance available through the Federal government’s OAS/GIS programs and the indexing of this assistance has helped to provide greater economic stability and reduce the depth of need among many low income seniors living in poverty.

15 ACCESS.2012. ACCESS Funded Programs.
16 OPTIONS. 2012. OPTIONS homepage.
17 BC Centre for Ability. 2012. Employment Centre for Persons with Disabilities (ERCPD).


Low Income Measure

Click on the graph to enlarge it.

Click on the graph to enlarge it.