This is one record we don’t want: Toronto leads Canada in child and youth poverty.
According to a new study, more than a quarter of the city’s children, or 29 per cent, live in low-income households. Child poverty is next highest in Montreal at 25 per cent and Winnipeg at 24 per cent. Toronto also has the highest child poverty rate in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, followed by Hamilton at 22 per cent and Peel at 21 per cent.
“It is shameful that our leaders have allowed widespread poverty of young people to continue,” Michael Polanyi of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto said in a statement.
“Until all levels of government make poverty reduction a priority, the success of tens of thousands of young people will remain at risk.”
With 29 per cent of children living in poverty in Toronto, that’s more than the number of working-age adults, at 24 per cent. In fact, children are the most at-risk age group. The same study found 10 per cent of seniors live in poverty.
The report, from Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and other anti-poverty groups, looked at Statistics Canada data from 2013 and found little change from previous years.
Now, as then, approximately 144,000 children and youth live in poverty, and it’s fairly obvious where those children will be found.
Children in some Toronto neighbourhoods are up to 10 times more likely to live in poverty, with the child poverty rate is over 50 per cent in Regent Park, Moss Park, Oakridge and Thorncliffe Park.
It is less than five per cent in Lawrence Park North and Kingsway South.
Children of colour, Indigenous children, children from single-parent and/or newcomer families, and children with disabilities are more likely to experience poverty in Toronto, the study found.
“The large and persistent neighbourhood and racial gap in children’s economic conditions and opportunities is alarming,” said Anita Khanna of Family Service Toronto and Campaign 2000.
Khanna said the city should adopt “a comprehensive and bold poverty reduction strategy this fall and making action a priority in the city’s 2016 budget.”
The executive committee is expected to vote on a poverty-reduction strategy on Oct. 20.