Gap Between Rich and Poor

collage-gapWhy is this important?

Rising income inequality (rising twice as fast in Toronto than in the rest of the country)[1] affects everyone. As median incomes and income mobility stagnate, poor health outcomes among those with low incomes lead to lost productivity and higher health care costs, and income polarization creates a widening achievement gap in city schools. The widening gap between rich and poor has an impact on the health of the economy.

 

What are the trends?

The median family income of low-income families ($14,930 before taxes in 2013) doesn’t come close to supporting a household. The rising cost of nutritious food is out of reach of these households—2014 saw a significant increase in the monthly cost of a nutritious food basket for a family of four. In Toronto’s inner suburbs visits to food banks have increased 45% since 2008.

 

 

 

Data refer to the city of Toronto unless otherwise noted 2012 2013 2014
1. Percentage of seniors living in poverty in the Toronto Region 10.5%

(2010)

9.5%

(2011)

11.6%

(2013)[2]

2. Median total annual family income (before tax) of low-income families in the Toronto Region (based on the Low-Income Measure or LIM). $14,350

(2011)

$14,630

(2012)

$14,930

(2013)[3]

3. Monthly cost of a nutritious food basket for a family of four in Toronto $762.04 $792.82 $835.91[4]
4. Number of visits to Toronto food banks 937,500

(April 2012 to March 2013) [5]

883,900[6]

(April 2013 to March 2014)

890,000[7]

(April 2014 to March 2015)

5. Percentage of food bank visitors who are children who go hungry at least once per week because of lack of money 20%[8]

(GTA)

16%[9]

(GTA)

16%[10]

 

 

 

What’s new?

Toronto is by most measures Canada’s richest city, but access to opportunity is increasingly out of reach for too many. The Region’s gap between the richest 1% and the rest is the second biggest in Canada, and income inequality among Toronto’s households is growing at twice the national average. We now have the dubious distinction of being Canada’s capital of working poverty (moving increasingly into the outer suburbs). Two working parents with two young children each need to earn at least $18.52 an hour to make ends meet. Meanwhile, with “epidemic” levels of child and family poverty in Toronto, the City is developing a Poverty Reduction Strategy.

 

 

 

How big is the gap in Canada, and in Toronto, between the richest and the rest?

 

Inequality appears to have narrowed in Canada over the past six years, but has it really?

  • Statistics Canada figures show that the share of income (not adjusted for inflation) going to the top 1% of income earners in Canada declined between 2006 and 2012, from 12.15% to 10.3%. Median incomes of the other 99% rose nearly 5% (from $28,900 to $30,300) over the same period, marking the first prolonged period since 1982 where they gained any ground on the wealthy.
  • However, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives argues that this slight thinning of the inequality gap is due less to any structural economic changes to increase income for the bottom 99% and more to a fluctuation of income in the top 1%.
    • Despite the slight gain from 2006-2012, the median income for the bottom 99% of Canadians has risen by a paltry 3.6% between 1982 and 2012, while the top 1% have enjoyed an almost 50% increase in theirs.[11]

 

Toronto’s grade on equality of income distribution from the Board of Trade remained unchanged in 2014, after a year when it had improved:

  • With a score again of 0.40 on the Gini coefficient, the Toronto Region retained its 11th place ranking out of 24 global metropolitan centres on the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s 2015 Scorecard on Prosperity, unchanged from Scorecard 2014 (when it had moved up from 14th place).
    • The Gini coefficient uses a spectrum to measure income distribution (it does not consider real levels of poverty or prosperity in society). 0 represents perfect equality, and 1 represents perfect inequality (or one person has all the income, and the rest of the population has nothing).
  • The ranking keeps Toronto ahead of Calgary and Vancouver, and behind Halifax.Montréalglobal (0.39), Toronto, and Vancouver (0.42) all received “B” grades, and Calgary (0.43) a “C,” while Halifax was the only city outside Europe to earn an “A.”
  • The top five cities, and six of the top seven, are European, while US cities continue to dominate the other end of the rankings, occupying seven of the bottom eight places this year.[12]

 

The gap between the richest 1% in the Region and the rest of the Region’s income earners remains the second biggest in Canada:

  • In 2012 the top 1% (66,840 people versus 68,230 in 2011) of individual tax filers in the Toronto Region shared 17.4% of the total declared income.
  • Although their share has dropped from 18.1% in 2011, their median incomes have continued to rise—to $322,200 in 2012 (up from $314,500 in 2011 and $301,200 in 2010). Two-thirds of their income (65.2%) came from wages and salaries.
  • Toronto’s disparity is second only to Calgary. Although the median income of the top 1% is lower there at $309,500, the wealth is even more concentrated at the top—30,655 people share 25.1% of declared income. [13]
Area Number in top 1% Income share Median income % from wages/salaries
Toronto Region 66,840 17.4% $322,200 65.2%
Vancouver 20,355 12.3% $302,400 61.4%
Calgary 30,655 25.1% $309,500 77.4%
Regina 1,720 8.1% $295,900 66.8%
Montréal 28,875 10.4% $301,500 53.3%
Halifax 2,240 7.3% $292,800 56.1%
Canada 261,365 10.3% $299,000 63.4%

Toronto Region’s Top 1% vs. other Canadian Cities and Canada, 2012[14]

 

  • Meanwhile, the Region’s top 10% shared 43.1% of total declared income in 2012.[15] Their average incomes grew by 1.6% between 2011 and 2012.[16]

 

 

In what ways does income affect opportunities to “get ahead” in the city?

 

Two working parents with two young children need to each earn a minimum of $18.52 an hour just to make ends meet in Toronto:

  • A new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report updates Toronto’s 2008 living wage by drawing on a national methodological framework (based on a hypothetical two-parent family with two children, aged 7 and 3).
  • The Provincially calculated minimum wage of $11 an hour leaves workers far below the poverty line, especially if they have dependants, because it does not take into account the expenses necessary for a family to meet its basic needs.
  • While a living wage counts both employment and government transfer income, it also recognizes that things like rent, transportation, childcare, food, clothing, internet, and laundry costs are basics.
    • It does not, however, consider any “extravagances” like saving for childrens’ post-secondary education, and it does not acknowledge that many working families are carrying debt.
  • Since 2008 (when the living wage was estimated at $16.60 per hour), the cost of childcare in Toronto increased by 30%, rent 13%, and public transit 36%.
  • To afford just the basics in Toronto in 2013, each parent in the hypothetical four-person family needed to earn $18.52 per hour (working 37.5 hours per week). Their expenses for one year totalled $65,870.55 and included (among other things):
    • $7,639.29 for food,
    • $14,220.00 for rent (two-bedroom apartment),
    • $8,189.10 for transport ($6,506.50 for a car and $1,682.50 for public transit),
    • $16,999.45 for childcare,
    • $1,200.00 for cellphone bills,
    • $1,037.16 for laundry,
    • $1,036.76 for a family vacation, and
    • $2,533.48 in “contingency” money.
  • More than 1.5 million people in the Toronto Region earned less than $21 an hour in 2013.
    • A living wage of $18.52 an hour would make a huge difference particularly in the lives of families who work in the retail and service sectors, where lower-waged workers are concentrated. In 2013 the median wage was $12.95 an hour in the retail sector, $14 an hour in administrative support services, and $11.50 an hour in accommodation and food services.[17]

 

Income inequality among Toronto households is growing at twice the national average, placing access to opportunity increasingly out of reach for too many who live here, shifting the way our city works, and compromising our reputation as “Toronto the Good”:

  • A United Way Toronto and York Region report examining growing income inequality and what it means for access to opportunity shows that at 31%, Toronto’s income inequality growth over 25 years (1980-2005) was double the national rate (14%) and almost double the province’s (17%).
    • Toronto fares worse than other major Canadian cities. Although Calgary is not far behind at 28%, Vancouver (17%) and Montréal (15%) have much lower rates of inequality growth.
    • Average household incomes in the poorest 10% of neighbourhoods increased by only 2%, while those in the richest 10% of neighbourhoods rose by 80%.
  • The concentration of poverty in Toronto is also growing. The income divide between neighbourhoods has grown by 96% between 1980 and 2010.
  • In light of deteriorating job quality, 38% of Torontonians surveyed in 2014 for the report believe that good opportunities are not available to everyone.
    • A third of those surveyed feel worse off relative to the previous generation and to where they thought they would be 10 years ago.
    • Almost 80% believe that many people are disadvantaged because of their background and have to work much harder than others of equal talent to overcome the obstacles they face.[18]

 

gap-BackgroundRealImpactLifeChances

Background has a Real Impact on Life Chances[19]

 

 

  • A majority (73%) believe that hard work and determination are no guarantee that a person will be successful in Toronto.[20]

 

gap-HardWorkNotEnough

Hard Work is Not Enough to Get Ahead[21]

 

 

  • Troublingly, inequality is generating pessimism about the future. Only 17.4% of those surveyed think the next generation will be better off. A majority (52.1%) think they will be worse off.
    • Youth are already in trouble: Toronto’s youth unemployment rate for 2014 was almost 22%,[22] significantly higher than the national rate (of about 14%[23]).
  • Despite the pessimism, 95% of respondents believe they can make a difference where they live—24.4% believe they can make “a small impact,” 40.2% “a moderate impact,” and 30.6% “a big impact.”
  • The report offers a blueprint for action based on three goals:
    • ensuring young people have the opportunities they need to build a good future,
    • promoting jobs as a pathway to stability and security, and
    • removing barriers to opportunity based on background and circumstances.[24]

 

Toronto is now being called “the Downton Abbey of Canada,” with a growing class of working poor serving the needs of a well-to-do knowledge class[25]:

  • A new report from the Metcalf Foundation finds that while Toronto is by most measures Canada’s richest city, we also have the dubious distinction of being its working poverty capital.
  • Between 2006 and 2012, working poverty increased from 9.9% to 10.7% of the working-age population in the city of Toronto, and from 8.2% to 10.7% in the Toronto CMA—the highest among Canada’s 10 largest CMAs.[26]

 

gap-workingPoorIndividuals

Percentage of Working Poor Individuals Among the Working-Age Population, Canada and 10 CMAs, 2006 and 2012[27]

 

  • Although the rate of increase of working poverty has moderated—10.7% in 2006-2012 compared to 39% in 2000-2005—the increase is actually still “perplexing and troubling” because increasing incomes, declining employment figures, and government interventions between 2006 and 2010 should have helped offset growth of the working poor:
    • the minimum wage increased by 37.6%,
    • three new income supplements were introduced (the Working Income Tax Benefit, the Ontario Child Benefit, and the Universal Child Care Benefit), and
    • overall employment rates fell (by 2.7%, from 63.8% in 2006 to 61.1% in 2012) while the number of individuals collecting welfare increased.
  • Rising property values, long wait lists for subsidized housing, and higher private market rents are resulting in the “Manhattanization” of Toronto, with working poverty moving northward away from the downtown core and increasingly into the outer suburbs. Mapping working poverty in the Toronto CMA from 2006 to 2012 shows that:
    • North York and Scarborough have the highest levels; and
    • While the area south of the Bloor-Danforth corridor saw reductions in working poverty in 17 census tracts and increases in only four, between Highway 401 and Steeles Avenue 39 census tracts saw increases and only one saw a reduction. Working poverty grew by 26% in Markham, 22% in Brampton, and 21% in Richmond Hill.

 

gap-Change in Percentage of Working Poor Individuals Among Working-Age Population

Change in Percentage of Working Poor Individuals Among Working-Age Population, After-Tax, Toronto CMA, 2006–2012[28]

 

  • The report concludes that higher wages, better job stability, and more effective support programs are needed to respond to the trend towards working poverty and to create both the labour market and the society Torontonians want. Toronto could reduce and even eventually eradicate working poverty.[29]

 

Is Toronto on its way to becoming an “elite citadel”?

  • Toronto ranks 14th on a list of global cities with the most ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs), defined as those with $30M or more in net assets.
  • The Wealth Report, published by independent real estate consultancy Knight Frank, maps the global super-rich and finds Toronto has a total of 1,216 of these individuals within the city, representing 0.7% of the total global UHNWI
  • Controlling for population, i.e., on a per capita basis of 100,000 residents, Toronto shifts to 13th place with 20.1 UHNWIs per 100,000 residents.
  • Toronto has not evolved beyond gentrification to “plutocratisation,” in which “global cities…are turning into vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself” (a globalphenomenon being experienced by the “superstar cities” topping the list: London,Singapore, New York, Hong Kong, and Paris). However, as in other global cities, our growing divide threatens the creativity and diversity that underpin growth.[30]

 

 

Should we be worried about rising inequality and increasing socio-spatial and ethno-cultural divisions in the city?

 

Toronto is an increasingly divided city. Our middle-income neighbourhoods are continuing to disappear as polarization continues to grow:

  • Research from the University of Toronto documenting the 40-year pattern of income trends that transformed the mostly middle-income Toronto of the 1980s into “Three Cities“ was first highlighted in Toronto’s Vital Signs Report in 2009.
  • New analysis of 2012 tax filer data shows the long-term trend saw average incomes increase significantly in 28% of census tracts (“City 1”), especially in the core, while they decreased dramatically in 40% of census tracts, mostly in the inner suburbs—particularly northwest Etobicoke and northeast Scarborough (“City 3”).
    • In between is a shrinking swath of middle-income earners with no significant increase or decrease in income (“City 2”). In 1990 68% of the city’s census tracts had this profile. In 2012 just 32% did.
  • Just under half of Toronto’s population lives in neighbourhoods that are low-income, 21% high-income, and only 30% middle-income.[32]

 

gap-NeighbourhoodIncomeChange-City of Toronto, 2012 vs. 1970

Neighbourhood Income Change: City of Toronto, 2012 vs. 1970

gap-NeighbourhoodIncomeChangeinToronto’sThreeCities1990-2012vs.1970

Neighbourhood Income Change in Toronto’s Three Cities, 1990-2012 vs. 1970

 

gap-IncomeEqualityBetweenCensusTractsUsingGiniCoefficient

Income Equality Between Census Tracts Using Gini Coefficient, 1970-2012

 

  • Between 1970 and 2012, income inequality between census tracts grew 74% in the outer suburbs, 61% in the CMA, and an astounding 96% in the city of Toronto.

 

gap-AverageIndividualIncomeCityofToronto

Average Individual Income, City of Toronto, 2012

gap-ChangingIncomeDistributionintheTorontoMetropolitanArea

Changing Income Distribution in the Toronto Metropolitan Area, 1970-2012

  • Income inequality is racialized. Whites comprise ever-smaller proportions of Cities 2 and 3, while their numbers have remained relatively stable in City 1, where incomes are growing.

 

gap-ThreeCitiesPopulationbyVisibleMinorityStatus

Three Cities Population by Visible Minority Status, 1996 and 2006

The researchers warn that if nothing changes—that is, if the trends of income equality and projectingpartitioning of urban space and resulting socio-spatial and ethno-cultural divides continue—by 2025:

  • City 1 (Toronto’s wealthiest neighbourhoods) will comprise 30% of the city;
  • The poorest, City 3, will comprise 60%; and
  • City 2, the middle-income neighbourhoods, will have almost disappeared.[33]

 

gap-WhatTorontosThreeIncreasinglyDistinctCitiesCouldLookLike2025projecting

What Toronto’s Three Increasingly Distinct “Cities” Could Look Like by 2025[34]

Note: Projections dependent on 2005 data and no future policy changes.

 

How are Toronto’s children and youth and their families faring, and are we making any progress in reducing poverty?

 

Median incomes of low-income families in the Region have risen:

  • The median total annual family income (before tax) of low-income families in the Region (based on the Low-Income Measure, or 50% of median family incomes adjusted to consider family needs) increased to $14,930 in 2013, up 2% from 2010 ($13,670), 4% from 2011 ($14,350), and 2% from 2012 ($14,630).[35]
    • Comparatively, the median total annual family income of all census families in the Region in 2013 was $72,830 (an increase of 31.7% from $55,300 in 2000 but 4.9% lower than the national level of $76,550) and 4.8% lower than the provincial level of $76,510).[36]

 

Social assistance caseloads in the city of Toronto continue to drop, but they have still not reached pre-recession levels:

  • The average monthly social assistance caseload for January to October 2014 was 92,771. As of October 2014 the social assistance caseload totalled 90,202 cases, 5.6% less than a year earlier, and well below budgeted levels.
    • Although the trend is positive, the total caseload remains much higher than before the recession. Cases numbered 76,867 in December 2008.[37]

 

Child poverty rates are decreasing nationally and provincially:global

  • Canada’s child poverty decreased 2.44% from 2008-2012, placing us 11th out of 41 OECD countries on a UNICEF index measuring change in child poverty levels.
    • Child poverty increased in the US and the UK (they ranked 27th and 25th respectively, with increases of 2.06% and 1.6%).[38]
  • Between 2008 and 2011, Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy made some headway in meeting its child poverty reduction goal of 25%, by lifting 47,000 children and their families out of poverty. It prevented 61,000 children and their families from falling into poverty in 2011 alone.[39]

 

Building on the success of its previous five-year strategy, the Province’s new Poverty Reduction Strategy has set a long-term goal of ending homelessness in the province, beginning with examining ways to define and measure homelessness:

  • The first step in Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2014-2019 will be to try to measure the homelessness scenario in the province by working with researchers and experts, including people with lived experience, to set a baseline and establish a future homelessness target.
  • The strategy emphasizes employment and income security by focusing on support systems—employment opportunities, income supports, and education—for those who are homeless or at high risk of becoming so, including youth and people with addictions and disabilities. For example,
    • Programs targeting youth at risk, such as summer programs that boost learning and programs that build community in urban high schools, will tackle obstacles to educational achievement.
    • The Province is proposing to index the minimum wage to the Ontario Consumer Price Index to ensure that it keeps up with the cost of living. Meanwhile, it invests $1B annually in the Ontario Child Benefit, which makes it easier for working parents to avoid turning to social assistance (the benefit provides some support to the families of about a million children in over 500,000 low-to-moderate-income families).
    • The strategy also aims to connect more people with employment, especially vulnerable populations.
  • Since 2003, the Province has committed over $4B to affordable housing initiatives and promises to continue the process by working with the federal government to build and renovate affordable units.
  • The Province reports that since the first Poverty Reduction Strategy was launched in 2008 its indicators have trended in a positive direction.[40]

 

The City is implementing its own Poverty Reduction Strategy:

  • In April 2014, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to develop a poverty reduction strategy, and in the City’s 2015 Budget process devoted $24.5M to it.[41]
  • In July 2015, Council approved an amended Interim Poverty Strategy (called TOProsperity) which included a vision, three overarching objectives, six issue areas, 24 recommendations and 74 actions. Throughout the summer and fall of 2015, City staff will create plans to implement the three key objectives identified in the strategy:
    • Address immediate needs: ensure that essential services are effective, well funded, coordinated, and meet the needs of those living in poverty.
    • Create pathways to prosperity: improve the quality of jobs in the city, attract investments to low income areas, and ensure that City programs and services are integrated, client-centered, and focused on early intervention.
    • Drive Systemic Change: create a more accountable and participatory government, where reducing poverty and inequality is an integral part of day-to-day business.[42]

gap-RoadmaptoReducingPovertyinToronto

Roadmap to Reducing Poverty in Toronto[43]

Ideas-and-InnovationsHousing First—credited to Canadian psychologist Sam J. Tsemberis—is an innovative approach to end homelessness that is increasingly gaining interest from policy makers and throughout the service delivery sector:

  • The concept is premised on the following understandings:
    • The majority of people experiencing homelessness have mental health issues that are often coupled with substance abuse, and thus the only way to eradicate homelessness is to provide all-encompassing mental health and addiction support services.
    • The best way to reach people with services is to go to them, in their own home. The efficacy of the stabilizing factor of housing works only in an environment where sobriety is not a requirement (aligned with the best practice of harm reduction).
    • Giving people housing first (“Housing first, as advocates like to say, but not housing only”) allows for sobriety and reintegration into society.
  • Multiple studies have shown that this approach is among the most effective.[44]
  • Medicine Hat, Alberta, has become the first city in Canada to claim that it has nearly eliminated homelessness by using a Housing First strategy. Of course hidden homelessness, housing precarity, and other critical social challenges continue to plague many members of that community.[45]

 

The Homeless Hub is a leading Toronto-based resource working to address homelessness in Ideas-and-InnovationsCanada, including youth homelessness:

  • Along with Covenant House, the Homeless Hub, has created a Youth Transitional Housing Toolkit as a resource for shelters, housing providers, youth-serving agencies and others that help at-risk and homeless youth move towards independence.[46]
  • The Homeless Hub is also working to develop an in-depth national youth homelessness survey, the first of its kind in Canada, to gather informative local data from community agencies and their clients from across the country to better understand the problem and to design permanent and effective solutions.

 

A 2014 report from The Alliance for a Poverty-free Toronto and Social Planning Toronto revealed that Toronto is experiencing a “hidden epidemic” of child and family poverty that varies significantly by race and ethnicity:

  • The number of children living in low-income families increased by over 10,000 between 2010 and 2012, to 145,890—almost one third (29%) of Toronto’s children, the highest rate in the GTHA. But poverty varies significantly by where in the city these children live, and by their race and ethnicity.
    • People of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and Latin American backgrounds are much more likely to be living on low incomes. Those of African and Middle Eastern backgrounds are about three times more likely to experience poverty than those of European backgrounds, based on calculations using the After Tax Low-Income Measure (LIM-AT).[47]

 


snapshot

The Alliance for a Poverty-free Toronto and Social Planning Toronto report that in 2012, less than 5% of children in Lawrence Park North and South, Leaside-Bennington, and Kingsway South lived in low-income families. But in some neighbourhoods—Regent Park, Moss Park, Thorncliffe Park, and Oakridge—poverty was 10 times worse, with over 50% of children living in low-income families. [48]

 


 

gap-PercentageIndividualsbyEthnicOriginLivingBelowtheLIM-ATTorontoPercentage of Individuals by Ethnic Origin Living Below the LIM-AT in Toronto[49]

 

gap-PercentageofChildren

Percentage of Children (0-17) under the LIM-AT Living in Toronto’s Neighbourhoods, 2012[50]

 

Percentage of Children Age 0-17 Living Below the LIM-AT in Selected Canadian Cities[51]

 

What does food insecurity look like in Toronto?

Lack of income and an unsustainable food system deprive Torontonians of access to the safe, healthy and affordable food that is their basic right, but Community Food Centres (CFCs) are changing lives by bringing people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food:

  • Household food insecurity and diet-related illness disproportionately affect the poor and have enormous social, economic, environmental, and health-related costs.[52]
  • A report from Community Food Centres Canada demonstrates the impact of CFCs by reporting on four established locations—The Stop and the Regent Park Community Food Centre in Toronto, The Local in Stratford, and The Table in Perth.
  • In 2014, these four CFCs alone served 143,419 healthy meals during 1,053 meal sessions and hosted 136 affordable market sessions.
    • 92% of 348 adult program participants surveyed said their CFC was an important source of healthy food and 82.5% said these community meals have helped them eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • The CFCs also held 414 community kitchen sessions teaching basic cooking and food preparation skills and nutrition, and 1,030 community garden sessions (with the thousands of pounds of produce yielded shared between participants and programs). 846 children participated in these educational programs.
    • 79.3% of those surveyed said they had made healthy changes to their diets, and 82.4% of community cooking participants said they have increased confidence in the kitchen.
  • 88.7% of respondents with one or more health conditions said participating in CFC programs has helped them manage their condition, 54.5% said involvement has contributed to improvements in their health over the past year, and 60.5% of respondents who participated in the community garden program said they have seen a positive change in their physical fitness level as a result.
  • Increased social interaction is a large benefit of CFC programs. 80.8% of people surveyed said they have made new friends at their CFC, and 87.9% say they feel a community atmosphere there. 65.4% say they have met at least one person they feel they can go to for advice and would be able to count on in a time of need.
    • 1,217 volunteers contributed 64,394 volunteer hours.[53]

gap-CanadasComplexInterconnectedFoodIssues

Canada’s Complex, Interconnected Food Issues[54]

The monthly cost of a Nutritious Food Basket in 2014 for a family of four in Toronto reached $835.91, an increase of 5.4% over 2013:[55]

  • Food insecurity puts families and individuals at higher risk for many poor health outcomes including reported poorer physical and mental health and a range of chronic diseases.
  • Boards of Health in Ontario are required to monitor food affordability annually, and calculate the average cost to feed a nutritious diet to households of varying ages and sizes. The Nutritious Food Basket reflects the lowest prices for 67 basic food items. Processed, prepared, and snack foods are excluded, as are household items such as laundry detergent and soap. The actual grocery bill for most households would likely be higher than the estimate, due to costs not reflected in the nutritious food basket:
    • the cost of transporting, storing, and cooking food;
    • the cost of convenience foods to households that lack the time or skills to plan and prepare meals from scratch; and
    • the added expense for households of one (it is cheaper to buy food in larger quantities).[56]
  • Data available for recent years show the cost of the Nutritious Food Basket has increased steadily: it was $633.78 in 2009, $715.28 in 2010, $748.40 in 2011, $762.04 in 2012, and $792.82 in 2013.[57]
  • The major barriers to accessing nutritious food are low incomes and the high cost of housing. The chart below shows the situations facing low-income Toronto households, forced to choose between shelter and healthy food, and funding all of their other daily needs.

 

 

 (Monthly) Family of Four, Ontario Works Family of Four, Minimum Wage Earner

(Full-time/Full-year)

Single Parent Household

with 2 Children, Ontario Works

One Person Household, Ontario Works One Person Household,

ODSP

Income $2,320.00 2,955.63 2,116.00 756.00 1,198.00
Average rent

(may or may not include hydro)

(3 Bdr.) $1,444.00 (3 Bdr.)

1,444.00

(2 Bdr.)

1,241.00

(Bachelor)

857.00

(1 Bdr.)

1,050.00

Nutritious food $703.96 703.96 532.60 236.06 236.06
Total food and rent $2,147.96 2,147.96 1,773.60 1,093.06 1,286.06
Funds remaining* 172.04 807.67 342.40 (337.06) (88.06)
% income required

for rent**

62% 49% 59% 113% 88%

 

Nutritious Food Basket Scenarios, City of Toronto, May 2014[58]

 

  • Adding in the cost per month of one transit pass paints an even harsher picture for low-income Torontonians.
 (Monthly) Family of Four, Ontario Works Family of Four, Minimum Wage Earner

(Full-time/Full-year)

Single Parent Household

with 2 Children, Ontario Works

One Person Household, Ontario Works One Person Household,

ODSP

Total food and rent $2,147.96 2,147.96 1,773.60 1,093.06 1,286.06
Cost of TTC Metropass $133.75 133.75 133.75 133.75 133.75
Funds remaining 38.29 673.92 208.65 (470.81) (222.81)

 

Nutritious Food Basket Scenarios and Metropass Affordability, May 2014[59]

 

 

 

In 2014-2015, visits in Toronto’s inner suburbs increased 45% since 2008:

  • The Daily Bread Food Bank’s 2015 “Who’s Hungry” report showed that there were 896,900 visits to food banks across the city between April 2014 and March 2015.[60] This is an increase from the 883,900 visits between April 2013 and March 2014[61] (but still lower than the 937,500 visits between April 2012 and March 2013[62]
  • Here’s what hunger looked like in Toronto in 2014-2015:
    • 32% of food bank users were children (and of those users who are children, 16% go hungry at least once per week because of their family’s lack of money).
    • 48% were from single-person households
    • 38% were university or college graduates, and
    • 51% were disabled
  • Food banks in Toronto have seen decreasing numbers of newcomers to food banks since 2008, in 2014-2015, 25% of users have been in Toronto four years or less (whereas in 2008, that number was 40%). These trends may be indicative of other data that has been reported in various issue areas of Toronto’s Vital Signs Report the last few years which all suggest that Toronto is becoming less of an arrival city for newcomers.[63]

 

 

 

The following groups are addressing issues relating to the gap between rich and poor through their innovative community-based programs.

 

Click on the name of the group to be directed to their profile on the Community Knowledge Centre to learn more about how.

 

ACCESS Community Capital Fund – Enabling individuals with economic barriers to realize sustainable self-employment

Arts for Children and Youth – Offering hands on, community and school based arts education

Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders – Increasing leadership skills for underserved teens through sailing

Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre – Improving the quality of life in the Christie Ossington community

Community MicroSkills Development Centre – Assisting the unemployed, with priority to women, racial minorities, immigrants and youth

Connect Legal  – Promoting entrepreneurship in immigrant communities

COSTI Immigrant Services – Providing educational, social, and employment services to all immigrants

Covenant House – Serving youth experiencing homelessness

The Children’s Book Bank – Providing free books and literacy support to children in priority neighbourhoods

Daily Bread Food Bank – Fighting to end hunger

Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre – Supporting their neighbours

Dixon Hall – Creating opportunities for people of all ages to dream

The Dorothy Ley Hospice – Fostering hope and dignity for individuals living with life-limiting illness or loss

Dovercourt Boys & Girls Club -Providing a safe, supportive place for children and youth

Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre – Serving a low-income, ethnically and socially diverse community

Elizabeth Fry Toronto – Supporting women have been or are at risk of being in conflict with the law

Findhelp Information Services – Providing information and referral services in Ontario and across Canada

FIT Community Services – Friends In Trouble – Bridging the income inequality gap

FoodShare – Working towards a sustainable and accessible food system

For Youth Initiative (FYI) – Creating healthy communities by increasing life-chances of underserved youth

Fred Victor – Providing accessible housing to people experiencing homelessness and poverty

Frontier College – Elevating literacy through a wide range of programming

FutureWatch Environment and Development Education Partners – Fostering the creation of sustainable communities

Greenest City – Building healthy neighbourhoods through gardening and the celebration of food

The Good Neighbours’ Club – Welcoming homeless men into a safe space through a drop-in centre

Habitat for Humanity Toronto – Mobilizing volunteers to build affordable housing

Inner City Angels – Bringing imaginative interdisciplinary arts programs to children in Toronto

Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre – Gathering community together in a place focused on social justice

John Howard Society –Supporting rehabilitation and re-integration of those in conflict with the law

JUMP Math – Encouraging an understanding and a love of math in students and educators

Junior Achievement of Central Ontario – Educating young Canadians to understand business and economics

Lakeshore Area Multi-Service Project (LAMP) – Partnering with their community to address emerging needs

Law in Action Within Schools (LAWS) – Engaging high school students through education in the legal profession

Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF) – Providing holistic and integrated services in York Region

Licensed to Learn Inc. – Empowering children to reach their potential through peer-led tutoring

Literature for Life – Helping marginalized young moms develop a practice of reading

LOFT Community Services – Helping people with challenges including mental health and addiction issues

Lost Lyrics – Providing alternative education through arts to racialized youth in ‘priority neighbourhoods’

Lumacare – Providing essential programs and services for the support of seniors

Macaulay Child Development Centre – Helping all children thrive in caring, responsive families

The Massey Centre for Women – Striving to achieve healthy outcomes for all young mothers and families

Mentoring Junior Kids Organization (MJKO) – Promoting healthy and active lifestyles for youth

Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation – Enabling financially disadvantaged students to achieve their academic pursuits

Moorelands Community Services – Providing youth affected by poverty fun experiences to strengthen their confidence

Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto – Building the collective capacity of Aboriginal women

Neighbourhood Information Post (NIP) – Empowering marginalized and socially isolated people

New Circles Community Services – Offering volunteer driven services in Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park and Victoria Village

Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto – Delivering educational and employment opportunities for immigrant women and their children

North York Harvest Food Bank – Creating community where all members can meet their food needs

OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants – Helping to integrate immigrants and refugees

Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC) – Working with members of the Parkdale community on issues of poverty and mental health

Pathways to Education Canada – Helping underserved youth graduate from high school and transition to further education

PEACH: Promoting Education and Community Health – Transforming the lives of young people through youth-centred, social and educational programs

Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario – Championing childhood cancer care

Ralph Thornton Centre – Building the potential of the Riverdale community

The Redwood – Supporting women and their children to live free from domestic abuse

Regent Park Focus – Bringing best practices in training and mentorship of youth to broadcasting and digital arts

Renascent Foundation Inc. – Facilitating recovery, education and prevention relating to alcohol and drug addictions

Scadding Court Community Centre – Providing opportunities for inclusive recreation, education, and community participation

Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities – Cultivating vital and connected communities

Second Harvest – Feeding hungry people by picking up, preparing and delivering excess fresh food to social agencies

Seeds of Hope Foundation – Building sustainable communities with resource centres that encourage learning, recovery, and enterprise

Shakespeare in Action – Enhancing arts and education through exploring and performing Shakespeare

Sherbourne Health Centre Corporation – Providing healthcare and transformative support to those experiencing systemic barriers

Sistering: A Women’s Place – Offering emotional and practical supports enabling women to take greater control over their lives

SKETCH Working Arts – Creating a safe space for arts and creativity for young, marginalized people

SkyWorks Charitable Foundation – Advocating and participating in social change through community film making

Small Change Fund – Supporting grassroots projects that contribute to social and environmental change

Social Planning Toronto – Building a civic society by mobilizing community organizations around specific local issues

Springboard – Helping people develop the skills they need to overcome barriers and achieve their full potential

St. Paul’s L’Amoreaux Centre – Providing programs and services for seniors and older adults

St. Stephen’s Community House – Programming for newcomer and low-income residents

The Stop Community Food Centre – Increasing access to healthy food by building community and challenging inequality

Teen Legal Helpline – Giving free and confidential online legal advice for youth

TIFF – Bringing the power of film to life by providing arts education for all ages and running the world’s largest public film festival

Toronto ACORN – Building community groups in low income areas to establish community campaigns

Toronto City Mission – Creating lasting change through preventative and transformational programs

Toronto Foundation for Student Success – Initiating innovative anti-poverty programs for students

Toronto Lords – Providing recreation through basketball for young people in marginalized communities

Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs – Providing a safe, supportive place for the young people of Regent Park, Cabbagetown, and Trinity-Bellwoods

Toronto Public Library Foundation – Providing essential resources for the enhancement of the Toronto Public Library

Trails Youth Initiatives Inc. – Challenging and equipping youth from the inner city of Toronto

Vermont Square Parent-Child Mother Goose Program – Fostering parent-child bonding and literacy through a rich oral language experience

Windfall – Providing new, donated clothing to 64,000 people in the GTA, more than 21,000 of which are children

WoodGreen – Enhancing self-sufficiency, promoting well-being and reducing poverty

YMCA of Greater Toronto – Offering opportunities for community involvement and leadership

Youth Employment Services (YES) – Empowering disadvantaged youth through employment services

YouthLink – Providing a range mental health services to improve the life outcome for youth at risk

YWCA Toronto – Transforming the lives of women and girls through programs that promote equality

 


 

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