Toronto must stop rise in child poverty

Posted on in Social Security Debates

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorials – A new study finds Toronto is tied with Saint John, N.B., in having the highest poverty rate among 13 cities.
Aug 27 2014, Editorial

Toronto is failing more than a quarter of its children.

A new study concludes that child poverty has reached “epidemic” levels, with 29 per cent of children — almost 149,000 — living in low-income families. Even more disturbing: that figure has actually been on the rise for the last two years.

That’s right. After gradually declining to 27 per cent in 2010 from a high of 32 per cent in 2004, the city’s child poverty rate has increased once again.

In some areas it’s much worse: 15 of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods have child poverty rates of 40 per cent or more, while 40 have poverty rates of 30 per cent or more.

In fact, among Canada’s 13 major cities, Toronto tied with Saint John, N.B., as having the highest poverty rate, according to the analysis of new Statistics Canada data by a coalition of social agencies.

Sadly, while the figures shine a spotlight on the issue and detail the extent of poverty in the city, they aren’t telling us anything we don’t already know — in general — from earlier studies.

Which is this: despite years of government rhetoric, Canada has a shameful record when it comes to ending child poverty, and Toronto’s statistics highlight that failure.

In 1989, the House of Commons unanimously voted to end child poverty by the year 2000. How successful was that? By 2013, the number of low-income kids had actually risen — to 967,000 from 912,000.

Meanwhile, a Conference Board of Canada study in 2013 surveying 17 industrial nations gave Canada a grade of C on eliminating child poverty. As the board said then: “Not only is it socially reprehensible; it also risks being a drag on the economy for years to come.”

Many studies have clearly told governments who needs help. For example, 38.2 per cent of Ontario children cared for by single mothers are raised in a low-income environment. And they have laid out clear directions for ending child poverty — provide low-income housing, better child care and targeted (rather than universal) child tax credits.

But as the new statistics for Toronto indicate, that message isn’t getting through.

For example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says increasing child-care spaces eases child poverty by enabling mothers to get a job. But in 2006, the Harper government killed a national child-care program that would have provided 625,000 subsidized daycare spaces and replaced it with a taxable $100 per month child tax credit that actually benefits the well-off more than the poor.

In 2012, Campaign 2000, a national anti-poverty coalition, recommended cancelling the $100 monthly payment, along with two other tax credits beyond the reach of the poor. Directing the money that would be saved to poor people, it said, would put almost $2,000 a year more into their pockets. Of course, Ottawa did no such thing.

To be fair, some action has been taken. One bright light is the Ontario Child Benefit for low-income families, launched at $250 a year in 2007 and which has increased each year to $1,310 now. It has helped to raise thousands out of poverty.

Still, there are almost 149,000 children in Toronto whose families are living on less than half the median household income (after taxes). They don’t need more statistics. They need action.

The groups behind the study have invited the mayoralty candidates to address the issue Thursday morning. It’s the least they can do to starting dealing with this sad inequity.

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2014/08/27/toronto_must_stop_rise_in_child_poverty_editorial.html >

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4 Responses to “Toronto must stop rise in child poverty”

  1. Jasika Mehmi says:

    After reading this article I learned quite a few things. I had know idea that Toronto is tied with Saint John, N.B., in having the highest poverty rate among 13 cities. The numbers are pretty high when it comes to the amount of children living in low income families. The voting is being done by the citizens but nothing is being done by the government. They make false promises to get the votes and when there elected still nothing gets done. 38.2 per cent of Ontario children cared for by single mothers are raised in a low-income environments. The government knows what needs to be done but are not going through with it. To think, Canada is one of the worlds most wealthiest countries in world this should not even be a problem, our money clearly isn’t being put towards the things that are most important. For example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says increasing child-care spaces eases child poverty by enabling mothers to get a job. But in 2006, the Harper government killed a national child-care program that would have provided 625,000 subsidized daycare spaces and replaced it with a taxable $100 per month child tax credit that actually benefits the well-off more than the poor. Although some actions have been taken such as the Ontario Child Benefit for low-income families, which has helped raise thousands out of poverty, there is a lot that still needs to be done. The government needs to step up, put in the effort and make a change. Not investing in child poverty means not investing in the future because the children are our future.

  2. Kathleen says:

    “Toronto is failing more than a quarter of its children” according to recent statistics in this article and this is alarming considering the health care costs associated with poverty due to malnutrition, lower success rates in school, higher likelihood of contracting disease, and other. “The World Health Organization has declared poverty as the single largest determinant of health” (WHO, 2012). The capital of Ontario should be an example to other cities in regards to humanitarian efforts towards supporting a healthy population and with rising health care costs, targeting poverty should be top on the list of priorities for reducing government spending on health care. Preventative efforts would aid to reduce the cost of health care in Ontario because there would be less people coming into the health care system for treatment from disease and disorders related to poverty. The House of Commons declaration to end poverty by the year 2000 was sadly not reached due to lack of political will, and this is due to band aid economics which do not look to preventative measures for reducing budget costs. As stated in this article, the solution to ending child poverty is not a mystery, it is fairly straightforward, to “provide low-income housing, better child care and targeted (rather than universal) child tax credits” which would help to raise children and families out of poverty and result in a healthier population who poses less of a burden on the government in health care costs. I urge those in power to take a closer look at the economics between effective social welfare policies and health care costs.

  3. Affaa Darteh says:

    With the constant rise in the cost of living, I personally feel that the level of child poverty that is realistic is 50%. I say this because the cost of living does not correspond to the amount of income families are receiving. Low income creates poverty within families which in turn creates child poverty. I feel that if a family with children is not receiving enough income that ultimately puts the children in poverty. I do not believe any level of poverty is tolerable. I believe that poverty is something that society can decrease if only the cost of living measures to the income workers receive. As well I feel that if there were more employment opportunities and social welfare programs to support individuals and families the rate of poverty will decrease which in turn will also decrease the high rate of child poverty.

    With that said I believe that the reason why the Canadian Government is failing to decrease the rise of child poverty is because the governments present the dire situation of poverty in Canada through the lens of child poverty to win votes at elections. After elections are complete, there is very little focus from our government on child poverty. Once elections are coming back up, citizens start to see much concern from our government regarding child poverty again. After elections are complete, we go back to seeing very little focus from our government on child poverty. We rather see that the cost of living keep increasing, yet there is not enough income going into household to contest with the cost of living. As humans we vote for parties that make “promises” to help our children, because we are naturally inclined to care for the vulnerable, which is often the children, and unable persons.

    In conclusion I just do not feel that the government is putting enough effort to decrease child poverty. We often only hear about the need to decrease child poverty when elections times are here. I feel that in 1989 if a little more focus was put towards decreasing child poverty it could have really happened. Maybe child poverty would not be completely removed but the rate would have decrease. Child poverty is an issue which the government really need to take seriously. Poverty puts many children at risk in terms of health wise, education and in many other areas of life. If the government does not focus on the children now, there will be fewer children to focus on in the future, because poverty slowly exterminates.

  4. It appears to me from reading this article that plenty of ideas have been brought to the attention of both the Provincial and Federal governments, yet not much action has been taken to put an end to poverty. Some of the suggestions mentioned in this article were providing more low-income housing and better child care and targeted child tax credits rather than universal. I agree that focusing on low-income housing and youth are essential to stopping and preventing poverty. If more health benefits such as dental and eye care were provided to low-income families this would prevent the need for families to choose between putting food on the table and providing proper health care for their children who are too young to be working in order to receive health benefits through a job. Also, most adults in low-income families do not have any health benefits through their employment for their family either. However, I think that the recent increase of the Ontario Child Benefit for low-income families is definitely a step in the right direction. Also, although it is not mentioned in this article, I have read about the action that has been taken over the past few years to try to implement full day, 5 days a week kindergarten (Chapin, 2014). I think this is key for not only the education of children to help them with their literacy skills in order to help them get a job in the future, but also to help parents be able to go to work without having to pay for the cost of child care.

    This article mentions that although Toronto has a very high poverty rate, poverty rates are high in many areas across Canada. I believe that the financial situation of the country can be improved most effectively if both the Federal and each Provincial government contribute to both the planning and the financial contributions necessary to reduce our country’s poverty rates.

    The second last paragraph of the article states that “They (children) don’t need more statistics. They need action.” This quote is short and sweet, but it stuck out to me because it really is the truth. Statistics are important to calculate and have so that we know if action needs to be taken, but we have established that. So let’s spend less time gathering statistics on poverty in Canada and more time implementing the steps necessary to make the change.

    Reference:
    Chapin, A. (2014, September 6). The school system can’t solve child poverty. Ottawa Citizen

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