Your Input: Canadian Poverty Consultation for Ontario Until October 2013

This video presents “David Hulchanski: Toronto’s Three Cities.”

  • A new report details three cities within Toronto: the wealthy city, the middle-class city and the low-income city.
  • But if David Hulchanski’s research holds true, there will only be two cities in the near future: the rich and the poor.
  • What has caused this disparity? And what can be done to reverse the cycle?

The Ontario government  had launched Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2008.

Poverty is no longer just a cycle wherein poorly-paid workers are struggling to “keep up with skyrocketing costs in housing, tuition and energy.”

This title should be revised and updated to ‘Breaking the Path to Poverty’ so as to be fitting to the reality of the present economy.

In today’s economy, the significant loss of  Canadian jobs due to outsourcing, dearth of middle-income jobs due to technology/digital revolution, and rampant job insecurity are all causal factors to almost instantaneous poverty for many hard-working individuals.

The shrinking middle class trend goes hand-in-hand with the growing poverty trend in this economy of  “anaemic GDP growth“, which is delineated by of the Toronto Star as follows.

…just over 1 million Canadian workers are employed at minimum wage jobs, 534,000 of them in Ontario. That’s because low-wage work in the service sector has surged, while traditional, higher-paying manufacturing jobs have been fading away. Note the stupendous growth of minimum-wage employers like Wal-Mart and Tim Hortons, Canada’s biggest retailer and fast-food operator, respectively.

For the nearly one in 10 Canadians paid the minimum wage – more than double the portion of only a decade ago — pre-tax annual income is $20,500, woefully inadequate to raise a family. By comparison, the average industrial wage is $45,588 per year. And the average pay for the 100 best-paid corporate CEOs is $7.7 million.

The Agenda with Steve Paikin: David Hulchanski's study - “Three Cities Within Toronto.”
The Agenda with Steve Paikin: David Hulchanski’s study – “Three Cities Within Toronto.”

Jason Loftus of the Epoch Times Staff reported that, according to the David Hulchanski’s study – “Three Cities Within Toronto”, the middle-class “communities are disappearing fast and being replaced by wealthy and poor neighbourhoods” in Toronto.  This study also identified the following trends:

  • In 1970, two-thirds of Toronto’s communities had average incomes within 20 percent of the city’s overall average income, which is how the study’s researchers define “middle-income.”
  • Not so anymore. By 2005 only 29 percent of the communities fit that description.
  • Meanwhile, Toronto’s high-income communities grew from 15 percent to 19 percent, and its low-income communities increased from 19 percent to an astonishing 53 percent over the same 35 years.
  • Poverty is being concentrated at the outer edges of the city where services are most difficult to access.
    • Low-income households are concentrated in the northeastern and northwestern parts of the city (the inner suburbs), with relatively poor access to transit and services.

Let’s add the following phrase to the adage ‘the poor gets poorer and the rich gets richer’:

And the not-so-rich gets almost instant poverty as the rich gets exceedingly wealthy.

Rampant job insecurity is another reason that the middle-income household is struggling to balance a budget and stay out of debt, as explained by Laurie Monsebraaten of the Toronto Star.

…barely half of workers in Greater Toronto and Hamilton have full-time jobs with benefits and expect to be working for their current employer a year from now, says the report on precarious employment and household well-being by McMaster University and United Way Toronto.

In low-income households…, just one-quarter of workers are in secure employment.

So, when unexpected financial emergencies, such as the sudden loss of a job or major repair of a car, come up, both middle-income workers and low-income workers face the ordeal of instantaneous poverty and/or extreme poverty.

Regarding extreme poverty (a.k.a. homelessness), here are some Toronto statistics from the early findings of the point-in-time estimate and survey done by City of Toronto staff and volunteers on April 17, 2013 Street Needs Assessment.

  • Toronto’s population of homeless people staying outdoors, in emergency shelters, and in correctional and health care facilities in Toronto on the night of April 17, 2013, is estimated at 5,219.
    • That is about one per cent higher than the 2009 estimate.
  • However, the estimate of the homeless population living outdoors increased by 24 per cent this year compared to 2009. And this homeless population living outdoors has the following three notable characteristics.
    1. The number of seniors (aged 61 and older) has more than doubled since 2009 and now stands at 10 per cent.
    2. More than a third self-identify as Aboriginal; in 2009, it was 28 per cent.
    3. Sixteen per cent say they have served in the Canadian military.
      • The question was not asked in 2009.
  • Health care services, particularly hospitals and ambulances, are now the services used most often by homeless people in Toronto.
  • The vast majority of those experiencing homelessness want permanent housing, but continue to face barriers accessing it.
  • The most important supports are programs and services that help make housing more affordable, such as housing allowances.
  • Nearly 20 per cent of homeless youth identify as part of the LGBQT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community, more than twice the rate of other age groups.
    • This is the first time the survey asked about sexual orientation.
  • More than four out of five homeless people have lived in Toronto for more than a year.
    • This is the first time respondents were asked about residency in Toronto.
  • A staff report containing full data and analysis, as well as comments regarding impact on service provision and policy, will go to the Community Development and Recreation Committee for consideration at the committee’s September meeting.

This is an update to the following  previous blog: Put Food in the Budget: Please Urge Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to Raise Social Assistance Rates Now!

Ontario, Canada


Ontario Government Renewing Its Commitment to Reduce Poverty

Province to Consult with Ontarians on Development of New Strategy

July 26, 2013 12:30 p.m.

Ontario is renewing its commitment to reduce poverty with the launch of province-wide consultations to hear how government and communities can continue to work together to break the cycle of poverty.

Feedback from the consultations will contribute to the development of a new five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy for Ontario.

Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy was launched in 2008, signalling a bold, new vision for a fairer society. Despite a difficult economic climate, more than 40,000 children and their families were lifted out of poverty between 2008 and 2010.

Government-led community consultations will begin in early August and continue into October. Individuals and organizations will also have the opportunity to conduct consultations in their communities and provide feedback.

Reducing poverty and creating more opportunities for families is part of the Ontario government’s plan to build a fairer, more prosperous society and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts

  • More information and online consultations will be available at on August 6, 2013.
  • Over 950,000 children in 510,000 families are benefiting from the Ontario Child Benefit. The benefit increased this July to a maximum annual payment of $1,210 for each child, and will increase to $1,310 in July 2014.
  • Over 690,000 children receive healthy food in Ontario schools through the Student Nutrition Program so they are better prepared to learn.
  • A government-appointed advisory panel is consulting with Ontarians to examine the province’s current minimum wage, which has increased 50 percent since 2003, from $6.85 to $10.25 an hour.
  • A single parent with a young child, working full-time at minimum wage and accessing all available benefits was living above the poverty line in 2012. The same single parent would have been living below the poverty line in 2003.
  • The Poverty Reduction Act, 2009 requires Ontario to develop a new poverty reduction strategy at least every five years.


“It is important that we build on the momentum of the first Poverty Reduction Strategy to create a more prosperous and fair Ontario. That is why we’re asking for input from Ontarians as we work towards a new strategy. Together, we can find practical solutions to help families break the cycle of poverty.

Teresa Piruzza
Minister of Children and Youth Services

“Poverty erects barriers to health and happiness. A renewed poverty reduction strategy will help open the way to more opportunities for all Ontarians.

Ted McMeekin
Minister of Community and Social Services

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