Poverty Reduction

Canada is a wealthy nation and Ontario a wealthy province. Even so, 16.8% of Canadians, and 17% of Ontarians – more than 1 in every 6 people – live in poverty.[1] Poverty rates are even higher for children, and thirty of the fifty-nine federal ridings in the Diocese of Toronto have child poverty rates above the national average. Women, who are much more likely to head single-parent families, and who are more likely to be employed in precarious and low-paid jobs, are particularly vulnerable.  Poverty also disproportionately affects Indigenous and racialized people as well as persons with disabilities.

Social Assistance: Social assistance rates fall well below the poverty line, with rates barely able to cover the cost of food and shelter, much less other necessities of life, while those relying on social assistance are often stigmatized as lazy or fraudulent.

Working and Still Poor: Ideally, employment would provide a pathway out of poverty for most people, but the rise of precarious work has trapped many workers in poverty, which is exacerbated by a lack of access to affordable childcare for working families.

Hunger: Squeezed between low incomes and the high cost of living, the number of Ontarians relying on food banks is increasing.  The Ontario Association of Food Banks reported that over 500,000 people relied on food banks between April 2017 and March 2018. While a third of food bank users were children under 18, the number of seniors using food banks has jumped by more than 10% in the past year.

HealthPoverty makes – and keeps – people sick, through inadequate nutrition or shelter, inability to afford dental care or prescription medications, or to take an unpaid day off work to recover from an illness or injury.

Poverty costs us all.  A 2008 report found that poverty in Ontario costs the provincial and federal governments up to $13 billion per year in burdens on the healthcare, social services and justice systems as well as in lost productivity.  That’s over $15 billion in 2018 dollars! By contrast, investments in poverty reduction have the potential to save all levels of government billions of dollars annually[2].

[1] Poverty Trends 2018, Citizens for Public Justice, October 15, 2018. Source: Statistics Canada: After-tax low income status of tax filers and dependents based on Census Family Low Income Measure (CFLIM-AT), by family type and family type composition, 2016 income year.
[2] Hunger Report 2018, Ontario Association of Food Banks