Family Poverty in Toronto

A dispatch from PEF member (and essay contest winner!) Nick Falvo in Toronto:

Just last week, the United Way of Greater Toronto released a report entitled “Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth Of Family Poverty In Canada’s Largest City.” Some of the findings are very disturbing.

-After-tax median family income in Toronto is $41,500 ($6,100 less than in 1990, in constant 2005 dollars), compared with $60,000 in the 905 area (just outside Toronto), $54,300 in Ontario as a whole, and $51,800 nationally.

-In 2005, roughly 1 in 5 of Toronto’s two-parent families were low-income, compared with 1 in 10 nationally, provincially and in the rest of the Greater Toronto area.

-In 1990, 16.3% of families in Toronto were low-income.  By 2005, the figure was 28.8%.

-In 1990, 1 in 6 Toronto families were low-income.  By 2005, it was 1 in 4.

-Between 2005 and 2005, the number of lone-parent families (with children 17 years of age and under) in Toronto increased by 13.8%.  By contrast, the number of two-parent families actually declined slightly (by 0.7%) over the same period.

-By 2005, 1 in 3 Toronto families were headed by one parent.  In the Greater Toronto Area, it was 1 in 5.

-The report raised concern about eligiblity for unemployment insurance for Toronto residents.  In 2004, only 27% of Toronto’s unemployed workers were able to obtain EI.

The income data used in the report was obtained from StatsCan.  It was derived from income tax returns for families with children 17 years of age and under.  It was analyzed at three points in time: 1990, 2000 and 2005.  All of the income data was adjusted to 2005 dollars and is expressed in after-tax dollars.  The report uses StatsCan’s Low-Income Measure to measure “poverty.”

The report is available at the United Way’s web site: http://www.unitedwaytoronto.com/

(If you look under News, in the left-hand margin, you’ll also be able to access a lot of media coverage of the report.)

There is strong speculation that this report will influence the Ontario government’s recently-announced poverty reduction strategy.

One comment

  • Yesterday, I attended a presentation on this report. Some points that came out of the presentation:

    -United Way had to do a custom order from StatsCan for this data.

    -The report findings came a surprise to the United Way’s research team. Nobody had anticipated that Toronto would have fallen quite so far behind the rest of Ontario or Canada with respect to family poverty.

    -The report was mentioned by the McGuinty government in their December 2007 throne speech.

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