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The Progressive Economics Forum

Child poverty rampant in Canadian cities

The story of child poverty in Canada is very much an urban story. One out of every 10 children living in urban areas was poor in 2010, compared to one in 20 children living in non-urban areas. Three quarters (or 76%) of all poor children in Canada lived in one of the urban centres shown in the chart below.*
Child poverty isn’t a question of jobs: the cities with worst child poverty only had middle-of-the-pack unemployment rates (out of the 19 cities, St. John’s, NL was 8th highest and Vancouver, BC was 11th highest). Similarly, the cities with the lowest unemployment rates in 2010 (Regina, SK and Quebec, DC) did not score particularly well in terms of child poverty. This is why it’s so important to talk about the living wage in Vancouver and wages in general.

Chart showing the percentage of children with family income below LICO-AT in selected Canadian urban areas from Statistics Canada Cansim table 202-0802

St. John’s in Newfoundland had the highest child poverty rate of all Canadian cities (15.8% or one in every 6 children). Vancouver saw the second-highest child poverty at 13.8%. Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo and Hamilton (both in Ontario) had the lowest urban child poverty rate in the country, lower than Canada’s non-urban child poverty average of 5.1%.

Statistics Canada reports on child poverty rates in selected municipalities with a total population of at least 100,000 (known to statisticians as census metropolitan areas). The data are updated every summer and can be found in CANSIM table 202-0802.

* Victoria, BC is also included in the Statistics Canada’s census metorpolitan area child poverty statistics, but the 2010 survey sample was deemed too small/unreliable for Statistics Canada to release a separate child poverty estimate for the municipality.

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