The city of Toronto continues to hold the unenviable spot of having the highest percentage of children living in low-income families among Canada’s major cities, according to a new report released on Monday.
The study, which looked at 2014 data and was co-released by Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Family Service Toronto, Social Planning Toronto, and Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change, reveals 133,000 children in Toronto continue to live in poverty, representing 27 per cent of all children in the city.
The report titled, “Divided City: Life in Canada’s Child Poverty Capital,” states the disparity between the haves and have-nots is most glaring in the Leaside and Thorncliffe Park area.
“When you cross Laird Avenue to go from Leaside to Thorncliffe, the rate of child poverty rate increases from 4 per cent to 52 per cent,” said Jessica Mustachi of Family Service Toronto in a media release. “This divide shows how we can and must do more to provide quality services to support low-income residents.”
The new numbers come as Toronto City Council faces the possibility of $600 million in cuts for city-funded programs and services.
“Despite Toronto’s booming housing market and significant wealth, more than one in four children is living in poverty,” report co-author Michael Polanyi of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto said. “Now is definitely not the time to reduce city spending on critical services and programs.”
The report also found one-third of families with children under age 18 in Toronto are living in unaffordable housing. When it comes to nutrition, there’s been a 48 per cent increase in food bank use in Toronto’s inner suburbs since 2008.
“We hope the report will put the 133,000 Toronto children living in poverty front-of-mind for Mayor Tory and Council as they debate the City budget,” Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto Sean Meagher said. “All children deserve a fair start in life, not just those whose parents happen to have high incomes.”
The 2016 Toronto Vital Signs Report released earlier this year, which offers a snapshot of key quality of life trends in the city, also painted a bleak picture for child poverty by labeling it a “hidden epidemic.”
That report further pointed out the high child poverty rate isn’t limited to Toronto with 30 federal ridings in the Greater Toronto Area above the national average of 19 per cent.