Metro Toronto: A Community At Risk (United Way Report review) FWD

Tom Boland (
Tue, 3 Feb 1998 04:17:42 -0800 (PST)

FWD excerpt from

METRO TORONTO: A COMMUNITY AT RISK (United Way report review)

--A United Way Report called Metro Toronto: A Community At Risk has been
released. United Way president Anne Golden said ``You can't walk around the
homeless and the outstretched hands any more. The numbers are too big and
the trends are too alarming,'' she  said in an interview yesterday. An
estimated 5,000 people were seen sleeping on Metro streets and doorways in
1996. As many as 50,000 people may be without a permanent address or
doubling up with friends or family in the City of Toronto alone. And
135,000 people on welfare in Metro are at risk of homelessness due to high
rents. Demand at Metro food banks rose 71 per cent in a six-month period in
1995. More than 40 per cent of those who needed food were under age 18.
The report notes that: Metro's poverty rate of almost 19 per cent is double
that of the outer ring of the Greater Toronto Area cities. While Metro has
just 50 per cent of the GTA's population, it has 70 per cent of all single
parent families and 67 per cent of all seniors. Both groups have high
poverty rates. Metro has the lowest vacancy rate in Canada and high demand
for  emergency shelters and social housing.  36 per cent of Metro children
aged 10 and under live in poverty compared to 22 per cent for the rest of
Canada.  ``Residents of the GTA outside Metro tend to be younger and have
higher incomes, leaving Metro - with its significantly higher social needs
- with a disproportionate tax burden,'' the report says.

The province's plan to force municipalities to pay more for social services
such as welfare and social housing will make the problem worse, the report
says.  A Metro report notes that property taxes will have to increase by at
least 7.1 per cent next year to maintain existing service levels. The
preoccupation with fiscal restraint and deficit reduction in Ottawa and at
Queen's Park is having a profound effect on social services, the report
says. ``The trend toward privatization of health and human services is
pronounced, and includes significant cuts to funding,'' it says. Those most
hurt by funding cuts are low-income families, victims of abuse, people with
developmental disabilities, immigrants and refugees, according to the


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