Poverty afflicts 12.6% of all Ontario children including 44% of all children in low-income families
Toronto (7 April 2008) - A new report says one of every eight children in Ontario is living in poverty. The assessment is based on data from Statistics Canada.
The anti-poverty group Campaign 2000 argues in its 2007 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Ontario that the solution to family poverty is not as simple as getting a job.
It notes that 70% of all low-income children in Ontario live in families where at least one parent is working part-time or full-time, yet the families are unable to earn enough to lift family income above the poverty line.
“Campaign 2000 calls on the Ontario government to set its target to reduce the number of children living in poverty by 25% within 5 years, and 50% within 10 years,” says spokesperson Jacquie Maund. “Quebec has been able to reduce its child poverty rate by more than 50% over eight years. If they can, we can too.”
The report notes that living on social assistance is a guarantee of poverty for Ontario children. Parents who are unable to be in the workforce and rely on social assistance struggle on welfare benefits that are as low now as they were in 1967. The majority of Ontario children receiving social assistance benefits (67%) are in lone-mother led families.
“In addition to ensuring good jobs at living wages and a stronger social safety net, the Ontario strategy needs significant public investment in the construction of affordable housing, expansion of the regulated child care system, and in education and training opportunities - all key pathways out of poverty for low income families,” Maund says.
The report, entitled “The Road Ahead: Poverty Reduction in Ontario,” includes the following:
- The provincial child poverty rate is 12.6%, or 345,000 children (using 2005 Statistics Canada data on tax income). The rate declined slightly from 2004 to 2005, but has been on an upward trend since 2001.
- Ontario’s child poverty rate is the fourth highest in Canada - 44% of all low-income children in Canada live in Ontario.
- Poverty rates for children in Aboriginal, racialized, new immigrant and lone mother-led families are at least double the provincial rate.
- 67% of all children relying on social assistance are in lone-mother-led families. In 2007, a single mother with one young child on social assistance had a family income that was at least $5,357 below the poverty line.
- Full-time, full-year work at Ontario’s new minimum wage of $8.75 an hour generates earnings that are approximately $3,000 below the poverty line.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring that our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE