About 10% of Canadians are below the poverty line, but the low-income cutoff isn't a complete picture of poverty, because poverty isn't all about income: If you can't build savings and assets, income doesn't help much. If you spend all you make, $1 Million a year won't help you when you don't have that income anymore.
If you're asset poor, you're not alone. About 40% of Canadians couldn't live at the poverty line for 3 months without any income according to David Rothwell at the Able 2013 conference in Calgary.
That three month cushion is a conservative limit, demonstrating how at risk people are, and how it's difficult to build assets.
You need an liquid emergency fund because you don't want to get stuck having to sell your home, car, or business to make up for an income crunch. You need that stuff to get back on your feet.
How much? According to Stats Canada it depends on your community (bigger communities more) and your family size. The bigger the community you live in and the bigger your family size, the more you should have available.
A small town family of four would need about $35000 in pre-tax annual income to be on the poverty line. That family, regardless of income would need $8750 in liquid assets to survive 3 months without income. Single? Save $5k to fund your emergency parachute. Minimum.