Child poverty is a threat to families, the economy and the entire community as a whole- unfortunately it is present in every ward of Toronto.. Families are greatly impacted due to child poverty. As a developing child, children require certain necessities to grow as a part of society. A developing child needs to be nurtured and cared for- poverty affects a child’s mental health and physical health.
According to recent statistics, 48% of children who come from families with income below $30 000 are not given the opportunity to join in extra-curricular activities- such as: sports, clubs and arts. Amongst families with incomes of $100 000 or higher, only 7% of children do not participate in these activities. This is due to the lack of finance in the family and lack of transportation as parents are often busy with 2 or even 3 low-paying jobs. As a result, children are left neglected without the chance to develop their own hobbies and interests. Furthermore, children lacking access to these programs have disadvantages in a school environment- children in poverty have a high possibility of falling behind in school, as low as in kindergarten level. These children are also at a higher risk to acquire mental health and emotional challenges throughout their lifetime- such as depression and anxiety.
Child poverty is a known culprit in housing and food insecurity. As of Aug 2019, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in toronto is a whopping $2300. Children in low-income families are often forced to get a part-time job at a young age to help pay for their living costs. Statistics show that more than a third of families in Toronto with children nearing the age of 17 pay more than 30% of their own income to their housing rent. Following, a quarter of families with children as young as 12 and under, live under an unhealthy housing environment- with inadequate and over-crowded living space, which is often shared with siblings. Lack of access to nutritious foods threatens child development and contributes to child hunger- most children in low-income families rely on city food banks to receive basic meals. The most common reasons for insufficient access to food are low income rates, boost in food costs and unemployment. Lack of adequate housing and access to food poses a great threat to the overall well being of a developing child.
The city of Toronto is a face of diversity as different ethnic communities and groups greatly make up the city’s population- but unfortunately, child poverty present in the city of Toronto is highly linked to discrimination and systematic inequality. Ridings in Toronto with high rates of child poverty have a higher population of minority and Indigenous groups. Statistically, 1 in 5 children are living in poverty- especially those of Indigenous and First Nations heritage or descent. These same ridings are also plagued with high unemployment rates, along with considerably low labour force participation rates.