UNEQUAL CITY: The Hidden Divide Among Toronto’s Children and Youth, 2017 Toronto Child and Family Poverty Report Card


This report draws on the Statistics Canada 2016 Census and other new data sources to describe the level, distribution and depth of poverty among Toronto children, youth and their families.

Its main findings1 are the following:

  • Indigenous families with children in the City of Toronto experience an extremely high poverty rate of 84%.
  • More than one in four children under 18 years of age (26.3%) live in poverty in the city of Toronto. This is the highest rate among large urban areas in Canada.
  • Children in racialized families2 are more than twice as likely to be living in poverty compared to children in non-racialized families (25.3% compared to 11.4%) in the Toronto region (i.e., Census Metropolitan Area or CMA). - Almost one in two children who are of West Asian (46.8%) or Arab (46.7%) background live in poverty in the Toronto region. This is more than four times the rate of poverty of children in non-racialized families.
  • Almost one in two Toronto region children who arrived in Canada between 2011 and 2016 (47.2%) live in poverty. This is almost three times the rate of poverty experienced by children in non-immigrant families.
  • Child poverty rates for children who are second and third generation Canadian remain particularly high for Black and Latin American families in the Toronto region.
  • 37.8% of children in lone-parent families in the Toronto region live in poverty, while the rate for children in female lone-parent households is 40%, more than twice the poverty rate of two-parent families.
  • The gap in child poverty rates across Toronto neighbourhoods remains stark, ranging from 4.1% in Kingsway South to 60.1% in Thorncliffe Park.
  • Thirteen city wards have areas of child poverty where rates are 50% or more.

As shown in this report, the divide in incomes along Indigenous, racial, immigration status, and gender lines is staggering. Rates of poverty for marginalized communities are several times what they are for others. As more than half of Toronto’s population identify as racialized (51.5%), this is a deep concern. Building a successful city must include providing the necessary measures to ensure no one is left behind and that systemic inequalities are addressed within City policies and programs.

Addressing these inequities will require concerted effort. The City must work together with community partners to address systemic barriers present in City policies, programs and services. It must provide adequate funding to implement approved strategies, including the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Toronto Newcomer Strategy, the Youth Equity Strategy and other relevant plans. The City must also pass the final Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism which is expected to come forward to the Executive Committee and City Council shortly, as well as create gender equity and racial justice strategies. Reducing racial, gendered and other disparities and inequities must be a top priority if the City is committed to reducing child and family poverty in Toronto.

Click here to read the full report

Click here to read the media release

+ Toronto Child and Family Poverty Report Card - 2016

Divided City: Life in Canada’s Child Poverty Capital, 2016 Toronto Child and Family Poverty Report Card

Purpose of Report:

This report draws from new data to update the 2014 report, The Hidden Epidemic: A Report on Child and Family Poverty in Toronto.1 It is the result of a collaboration between CAS of Toronto, Family Service Toronto, Social Planning Toronto, and Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change.

  • It describes the level – and unequal distribution – of poverty and deprivation among children and families in Toronto, and explores how living in poverty affects access to housing, food, recreation, education and transit.

Key Findings:

  • Toronto continues to be the child poverty capital of Canada: it has the highest rate of low-income children among large urban centres (26.8%). 
  • There were 10,000 fewer Toronto children living in low-income families in 2014 compared to 2013; however, 133,000 children continue to live in poverty.
  • Recreation and early learning participation levels of Toronto children are highly dependent on family income: half of children in families with annual incomes under $30,000 do not regularly participate in out-of-school arts or sports
    programs (in contrast, only 7% of children in families with incomes over $100,000 don’t participate in these programs).

Key Recommendations:

  • City Council should honour its commitment to reduce and eliminate poverty and deprivation in Toronto. It should adhere to the work plan of its poverty reduction strategy, ensure that the strategy is shaped by people with experience of poverty, and put in place clear short- and longer-term progress targets for ensuring fair and equitable access to adequate incomes, housing, transit, child care, food and other supports.
  • To reduce child and family poverty, it is imperative that the City address its ongoing fiscal shortfall, which puts city services and programs at ongoing risk of cut-backs and prevents adequate investment to improve access to services. To achieve this, the City must approve and implement a financial plan that includes fair and adequate revenue generation (taxation) and sustainable spending that is focused on improving the lives of children, adults and families most in need.

Click here to read the full report

Click here to read the media release

Click here to view the Child and Family Report infographic