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Toronto poverty levels up and more poverty areas in inner suburbs.

TORONTO -- A dramatic increase in the number of poor neighbourhoods in Toronto and an increased concentration of poor families in higher poverty neighbourhoods in the last 20 years is presented in a report from the United Way of Greater Toronto, Poverty by Postal Code: The Geography of Neighbourhood Poverty, which identifies levels of poverty by postal code.

Based on Statistics Canada census data from 1981 to 2001, the report indicates 1981 higher neighbourhood poverty was mostly concentrated in the old City of Toronto while today, that poverty is spread across the city's inner suburbs, particularly in the former cities of North York and Scarborough, York and East York.

Key among the study's findings was an increase in the number of poor families in Toronto of about 69 per cent in 20 years compared to only a 15 per cent increase in the number of families overall.

The United Way intends to address this growing poverty in the city through a three-pronged approach, including

* assisting youth,

* helping newcomers reach their potential and

* building strong neighbourhoods.

In 1981, there were 30 neighbourhoods identified as high poverty neighbourhoods, but 20 years later there are 120 such neighbourhoods. The study also showed the increase in higher poverty neighbourhoods was "especially acute" in the inner suburbs (the former cities of Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, York and East York) where the combined total of higher poverty neighbourhoods rose from 15 in 1981 to 92 in 2001. Only one postal code area in the Greater Toronto Area surrounding the city has been identified as high poverty.

In addition, the concentration of family poverty is increasing with 43.2 per cent of poor families living in higher poverty neighbourhoods compared with 17.8 per cent in 1981. The study also found that since 1981 there has been a 484 per cent increase in the poor immigrant family population living in higher poverty neighbourhoods with immigrant families accounting for two-thirds of the total family population living in higher poverty neighbourhoods.

"Neighborhood decline is not inevitable, and investments in communities do make an enormous difference," Lankin said. "That is the lesson to be learned from successful neighbourhood revitalization efforts in the United States and Britain."

"The increase in poor neighbourhoods is alarming," says Frances Lankin, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Toronto. "We know that the consequences of living in a poor neighborhood are significant and long term for children and youth, for newcomers to our country, for the entire community. Toronto is losing ground faster than almost all other urban centres in Canada," regarding poverty levels and the greater number of poor neighbourhoods.
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Publication:Community Action
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 19, 2004
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