UNITED WAY OF GREATER TORONTO

UNITED WAY OF GREATER TORONTO

November 26, 2007 13:07 ET

United Way Poverty Report Reveals 1 in 4 Toronto Families Struggling in Poverty

Despite economic prosperity, high employment and strong job growth Toronto's family poverty rate at 28.8 per cent, compared with 19.5 per cent across Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 26, 2007) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available on the CP picture wire via Marketwire.

The number of low-income families in Toronto continues to grow at an alarming rate, opening up an ever-widening gap with families in the rest of Canada, according to a research study released today by United Way of Greater Toronto. The study also chronicles a number of startling symptoms of the persistent growth of poverty in the city, including signs of growing debt such as insolvencies, rising eviction applications, and a rapid expansion of quick-fix money solutions targeting low-income neighbourhoods across the city.

"The median income for Toronto families, raising children 17 and under, has been static since 2000, and in stark contrast with families in the rest of Canada," said Frances Lankin, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Toronto. "This means that large numbers of families raising children in the Toronto area are falling into a cycle of poverty that is virtually impossible to escape."

Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth Of Family Poverty In Canada's Largest City focuses on families with children 17 years of age and under, documenting how Toronto families are faring financially compared to their counterparts in areas surrounding Toronto, in the province, and across Canada. The research is a follow up to Decade of Decline, the United Way study which documented the decline in household incomes in Toronto in the 1990s.

The study found that by 2005, the after-tax median income of families with children 17 years or younger living in Toronto stood at $41,500, a mere $400 dollars higher than in 2000, and $6,100 less than it was 15 years earlier in 1990, adjusted to inflation (2005). The median income of Toronto families with children has fallen well behind other large and mid-sized urban regions in Canada ($50,300 in Winnipeg, $52,400 in Halifax and $62,500 in Calgary).

"What is most disturbing is that these families face raising their children in the most expensive city in Canada," said Lankin. "This is why United Way supports the Ontario government's plan to build a much-needed poverty reduction strategy. However, this strategy must take into account the unique challenges facing low-income families raising children in Toronto."

The study also reveals that the number of lone-parents in the City of Toronto is growing at a faster rate than the total family population. More than 30 per cent of Toronto family tax filers were lone-parent families in 2005, compared to 19 per cent in the areas surrounding Toronto. In 2005, 51.6 per cent of Toronto's lone-parent families were low-income, compared to 1 in 3 in 1990. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 of Toronto's two-parent families are living in poverty, compared to 1 in 10 at the national and provincial levels and across areas surrounding Toronto.

Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth Of Family Poverty In Canada's Largest City makes a number of recommendations, including:

- Developing a poverty reduction strategy for Ontario that takes into account the unique low-income challenges facing the City of Toronto and sets clear poverty reduction targets and aggressive timelines for achieving those targets;

- Ensuring the strategy involves all orders of government so that all components of the social safety net are considered, including policies and programs that impact housing security, employment security and child care;

- Developing rigorous new regulatory measures to protect consumers from the payday lending sector, including setting interest rate caps, limits on fees and charges and other practices that trap consumers in a cycle of debt.

Key findings:

- The median income of Toronto families with children 17 and under, has fallen well behind the median incomes of families in the Toronto CMA, Ontario and Canada.

- In 2005, 1 in 5 of Toronto's two-parent families were living in poverty, compared to 1 in 10 at the national, provincial and rest of Toronto CMA.

- In 2005, 51.6 per cent of Toronto's lone-parent families were living in poverty, compared to 1 in 3 in 1990.

- One in four Toronto families is struggling in poverty - In 2005, Toronto's family poverty rate was at 28.8 per cent, compared with 19.5 per cent across Canada.

- Insolvency rates in Toronto were up 52.3 per cent between 2000-2005, compared with a 16.8 per cent increase nationally and a 39.5 per cent increase provincially.

- Eviction applications increased 26 per cent between 1999 and 2006.

- Debt management caseloads increased 50 per cent between 2001 and 2007.

- Payday loan and cheque cashing outlets increased from 39 in 1995 to 317 in 2007, with most concentrated in high poverty neighbourhoods.

About the research

The income data in Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth Of Family Poverty In Canada's Largest City was obtained from Statistics Canada, and is derived from income tax returns. While the focus of the analysis is on the first five years of this decade, data was analyzed at three points in time - 1990, 2000 and 2005. All income data has been adjusted to 2005 dollars, and is expressed in after-tax dollars. The report uses Statistics Canada's Low-Income Measure (LIM) as a measure of poverty and median income - the middle of the city's income distribution - as a determinant of how typical Torontonians have fared in the first five years of the 2000s.

About United Way of Greater Toronto

Established in 1956, United Way of Greater Toronto is a registered charity and community impact organization dedicated to improving lives and strengthening neighbourhoods across Toronto. United Way identifies needs and takes action to create a better, safer, stronger city through research, partnerships and support of a network of 200 health and social service agencies.

To read the report online or watch the news conference video visit, unitedwaytoronto.com

Contact Information

  • United Way of Greater Toronto
    Joanna King
    (416) 777-1444 Ext. 386
    Email: jking@uwgt.org