Poverty in Toronto
Fearing eviction, walking to save a token, always choosing the cheapest and least nutritious food, telling government agencies the same information over and over again, and worrying that the opportunities enjoyed by other children will be denied to yours. That’s what life is like for too many Torontonians.
It hasn’t always been like this. Back in the ‘70s, one in 10 adults were poor, not one in five; two in three neighbourhoods were middle income, not one in three; the majority of people looking for work qualified for employment insurance, not the minority; income supports assisted us in times of need, not food banks.
It used to be that education led to jobs, jobs led to stability, and social supports allowed us to get back on our feet if a crisis struck. That path is broken. Good jobs are increasingly hard to find. Almost half of Greater Toronto Area workers have temporary, contract, part-time jobs with variable hours, little stability, and no benefits.
Education remains a smart long-term investment, but it offers no immediate guarantees: almost one in four college graduates are working low-wage jobs. Employment Insurance is less accessible. Ontario Works rates lost more than half of their value in the last 20 years. Child care is unaffordable.
At the same time, life in Toronto is getting more expensive every day. Housing, transit, and healthy food are increasingly out of reach for people living on low wages and income supports.
The City of Toronto has been tackling these issues for many years. City strategies, programs, and services provide targeted supports to individuals, families, and neighbourhoods. We must continue to do the things that work, and do more of them. But that is not enough. We must also try new strategies to ensure that the benefits of growth and prosperity are widely shared – so that everyone can live in dignity.