Toronto riding has 40% of its children living in poverty. According to a new report across all 338 federal ridings, Toronto’s has the highest rate.
Behind the report is an anti-poverty advocacy group, known as Campaign 2000. They hope that the report will make the government approve a strategy to reduce poverty before the next year’s federal election. The government must also make sure that the future government won’t undo the commitments.
The report shows that the high child poverty rate has also seen a higher proportion of families with only one parent, or Indigenous Peoples. The next two ridings are Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River and Winnipeg Centre, ranking on the second and third highest rate of child poverty in the country.
Anita Khanna, the national co-ordinator of Campaign 2000 stated:
“We might hear from some politicians that, ‘this is not an issue in my backyard’ and that really poverty is about either getting a job, or pulling up your bootstraps and it’s because of people’s individual choices. This really shows that there are systemic factors at play.”
According to the group, the ridings have high unemployment, a low rate of labour force participation, but there are also more renters, with people that play over 30% of their income on housing.
‘…We never wanted for anything at home” – Jane Syvret
The latest 2016 census and 2015 income tax data show that poverty is linked to discrimination and systemic inequality, not because of poor individual choice or luck, says the report.
Jane Syvret is of Indigenous and Black heritage. She grew up in a large family, but back then, “there were always programs available to local kids, with mentors and people who cared about us.” She said she never felt poor.
However, the area redeveloped, and community programs closed, shutting down many local families in favor of new facilities. Syvret has been working since she was 15, but with a minimum wage job, a newborn and two daughters, she won’t get out of poverty. She wanted to access adult education or skills upgrading programs, but they’re difficult to access:
“Why is everything always full? These are supports that are put in place to help. But if they are always full, that means there is not a lot of help.”
Fighting child poverty must be done through a complex strategy that combines financial and social support to families like Syvret’s, says Khanna:
“Universal child care, drug and dental coverage, affordable housing, improved employment insurance and support for workers are all needed.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere