Close to 35 per cent of all youth across northwestern Ontario are living in poverty, according to a recent report by Campaign 2000. The report studied the rates of poverty for youth under the age of 18 in each federal riding across Canada. The latest data paints a stark portrait of inequality in the nation, highlighted by wide economic gaps.
The average child poverty rate across Canada is 17.4 per cent, which nearly half of the federal ridings surpass (162 out of 338). The Kenora riding has a rating of 34.7 per cent, when comparing the number of children between the ages of 0 – 17 (17,570), to the number of low income children between the ages of 0 – 17 (6,090).
The Churchill Keewatinook-Aski riding has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, with a rating of 64.2 per cent. Winnipeg comes in third at 41.1 per cent.
The report also finds that federal ridings with the highest levels of child and family poverty are home to a higher proportion of Indigenous, immigrant and single-parent families.
“Child and family poverty knows no boundaries in Canada: it is a disturbing reality in every single riding. Poverty means there are too many children suffering hunger, ill health and stress beyond their years in communities across the country,” says Anita Khanna, Campaign 2000’s National Coordinator.
“Given Canada’s wealth, no child should go to bed hungry. No parent should be forced to choose between paying rent and buying medication or miss out on work or training for lack of quality affordable childcare. With every riding affected by poverty, every riding will benefit from a strong federal strategy.”
The federal government has been working on a national poverty reduction strategy, which is set to be released later this year.
The Kenora District Services Board has detailed their strategy to reduce child poverty in the region. They have awarded their 2018 Child Poverty Reduction Reinvestment Funding to community-led initiatives within the district.
In 2017, the funding provided through this program assisted over 1,000 children across the district, which equates to approximately 20 per cent of children meeting eligibility for assistance. A total of $130,145.00 will be provided by the Kenora District Services Board as committed in the 2018 budget.
“Our Board’s annual funding contribution ensures children are supported and connected to their communities. It reflects a commitment to support children’s ability to learn grow through supporting basic needs as well as participation in sports and recreation,” said Sarah Stevenson, Director of Integrated Social Services at the KDSB.
The services board says that through the Child Poverty Reduction Reinvestment Funding Program they are able to create strong partnerships with community agencies, that will help further efforts to serve vulnerable children and families. One of those partnerships is with the Northwestern Health Unit, who will be expanding their Nutrition on Weekends Program to 5 communities this year.
“The Northwestern Health Unit is pleased to continue and expand our partnership with the Kenora District Services Board and communities in our area in support of the Nutrition on Weekends Program,” said Shannon Robinson, Manager of Chronic Disease Prevention at the NWHU.
“The program complements school-based meal and snack programs by providing healthy food for children and youth who might not have enough food at home on the weekends - lessening the impact of hunger and helping kids return to school on Monday ready to learn.”
In 2017, the health unit released their report on children’s mental health in the district. Key health indicators in the report show that children and youth living in northwestern Ontario are facing mental health challenges at a far greater rate than youth living in the rest of the province.
For more information:
Campaign 2000 – Child Poverty by Federal Ridings
New reports shows NWO children at greater risk of mental health illness