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    Position Statement on Poverty

    Last Updated: June 23, 2010


    Human Services is committed to:

    • Supporting Council in advocating for reforms to Canada’s income security system to ensure that low income residents of Peel, including the working poor, have an adequate level of income for themselves and their children.

    • Playing a leadership role in collaborative efforts with other levels of government and jurisdictions, departments, community and business groups with the aim of improving supports and services to groups who are vulnerable to poverty in Peel.

    • Working with its partners to design innovative services that meet the needs of low income individuals, families and especially population groups that are most vulnerable to poverty.

    • Collaborating with community groups and businesses to develop a strategic, measurable plan focused on reducing poverty, mitigating its effects and supporting services for low income individuals and their families.
    • Low income is not necessarily the same thing as poverty.  Poverty is generally defined as persistent low income experienced by people who have difficulty changing their circumstances.

    • National studies have demonstrated that about half of all people in low income at any one time improve their circumstances within three years.  Those who lack assets (material/financial capital, human capital and social capital), or have lost them after a time in low income, are at risk of falling into persistent poverty.  The longer individuals stay in low income, the harder it is to change their circumstances.

    • Annually, the Region spends 31% of its total property tax supported operating budget ($414 million), and 22% of the net property tax supported budget ($180 million) on three programs supporting low income families in Peel:  Ontario Works, Children’s Services and Social Housing.

    • According to the 2006 Census, there were 167,000 individuals in low income in Peel, representing 14.5% of the total population, up from 114,505 or 11.6% in 2001.  Unlike in 2001 and 1996, the incidence of low income in Peel in 2006 is nearly equal to the provincial average.

    • Between 2001 and 2006 the percentage of Peel children age 0 to 5 in low-income grew from 14% to 19.8%, higher than the provincial rate of 19.3%.

    • The groups most vulnerable to poverty are also among the fastest-growing components of Peel’s population.  These groups include visible minorities, recent immigrants, single parents, young families with children and unattached seniors.


    • Long-term poverty has permanent effects on the health of individuals.  An April 2005 Council report from Peel Health showed that people in low income in Peel are often making a choice between paying rent and buying food.

    • A 2007 study found that in Ontario, women living in the lowest income quintile neighbourhoods have 25% higher odds of a premature birth and 46% higher odds of a low birth weight baby (Urquia, Frank, Glazier & Moineddin, 2007).

    • A 2009 study found a connection between low-income and psychological stress and overall self-rated health. Men and women with low-income report lower levels of self-rated health and higher levels of distress. Low-income men are 58% more likely to become distressed than higher income men; low-income women are 25% more likely to become distressed (Orpana, Lemyre & Gravel, 2009).

    • Peel Health’s State of the Region’s Health Report 2008 noted that evidence indicates that among the key factors which influence health status are socio-economic status, education, social support, employment, migration and the social and built environment. Factors such as low-income, substandard housing, deprived neighbourhoods and poor access to nutritious food cluster together to contribute to poor health.

    • Among the reports other findings are:
      •  The rate of low-birth weight was highest in census tracts with the largest proportion of low-income economic families and/or individuals
      • Over the last 5 years low birth weight among single births has been higher in Peel than in Ontario

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    • In a December 2009 Canadian Index of Well Being report, the Institute of Well Being noted that low-income and poverty have an obvious negative effect on the health and wellbeing of those who directly experience it, but it also affects us all. It is estimated that poverty costs Canada between $24.4 and $30.5 billion a year in health spending not including additional costs at the provincial level. The World Health Organization estimates that households with the lowest 20% of income account for 31% of health care spending on individuals (Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 2008).

    • Large numbers of low income households in Peel are unable to afford shelter that meets adequacy, suitability and affordability standards. According to Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, in 2006, 15.6% or 53,345 households in Peel were in core housing need. This rate has risen steadily from 9.2% in 1991. (Region of Peel Housing Strategy, Aug. 2009, pp. 14-15). 


    The Region of Peel through its Council has:

    • The Region of Peel through its Council has:

      • In 2009, passed resolutions strongly supporting the Province of Ontario’s poverty strategy, Breaking the Cycle, and encouraged them to provide the necessary dollars to implement the recommendations as well as get annual reports on the provincial efforts to reduce child poverty in Peel.

      • Since 1998, reinvested millions of dollars in savings from the National Child Benefit supplement reduction of Ontario Works benefits into programs and services to benefit low-income families with children. In 2004, Peel reinvested $2 million, the majority of which went to child care.

        Invested in several programs and initiatives that address the root causes of poverty including:


    • Advocating on behalf of low income individuals and families by collaborating with:
      •  Municipal associations such as the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Campaign 2000 (http://www.campaign2000.ca_) and the 25 in 5 Network (http://25in5.ca).
      •  The United Way of Peel and some sixty community partners in the Success by Six Peel initiative which has highlighted economic security as a key indicator of early child success in their first Community Report Card.  See: Success by 6 Peel.

    • Conducted a strategic review of poverty in 2005 that highlighted the relevant demographic, economic and labour market trends affecting poverty in Peel.  The review recommended that staff collaborate with community groups to develop an action plan to reduce poverty and mitigate its effects in Peel.
    • As a result of the strategic review of poverty, The Peel Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee was formed to respond to the growing and critical issue of poverty in Peel.  The committee is comprised of a diverse number of agencies, grassroots organizations, stakeholders as well as local governments committed to reducing poverty in the region. The committee is building on the Region of Peel’s 2005 Strategic Review of Poverty and creating a regional strategy that addresses root causes of poverty in Peel.
    • In December 2008, the Government of Ontario released Breaking the Cycle, Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, which promises a reduction in child poverty by 25% in 5 years; in May 2009, the Government affirmed its commitment to poverty reduction by passing Bill 152, An Act respecting a long-term strategy to reduce poverty in Ontario.
    • The Peel Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee supports this target and has committed to using the eight (8) provincial indicators and work with the provincial government and Regional Council to achieve the same target in Peel.
    • In November 2009, Regional Council adopted 24 new human service policies and 13 amended policies related to the location of human service facilities, accessibility mobility, affordable housing, and advancing health promotion and disease prevention.

    • Regional Council has made considerable investments in new affordable housing units since the province devolved responsibility to municipalities in 2001.  Since 2003, the Region has spent nearly $9 million to build 367 affordable housing units, and in 2009, millions more were invested to build additional affordable & appropriate housing units to support 800 families.
    • Human Services and Peel Health brought food organizations in Peel together to create a Food Distribution in Peel Network. The Network is comprised of approximately 35 organizations who are beginning to work together to ensure that all Peel residents have access to more and fresher food. The process has been linked to the Ontario Association of Food Banks, the provincial coordinating body for solicitation and distribution in Ontario.
    • Peel Public Health also provides equitable access to public health programs to all Peel residents, including people of modest and low income.  Peel Public Health has bridged the funding gap for the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program; and expanded clinics that protect the dental health of Peel’s working poor.  Peel Long Term Care is also taking actions to adapt services to address the varying economic backgrounds of clients and their families.
    • Regional Council continues to make substantial investment in the Families First program. The program was developed by the Region of Peel to provide employment and health services, recreation and childcare to sole support parents receiving Ontario Works assistance. The program design is based on studies conducted by Dr. Gina Browne that indicate that participants in similar programs experience permanent benefits such as reduced reliance on the healthcare system and less dependence on social assistance.


    Peel’s poverty rate of 15% in 2006 was slightly higher than the provincial rate and significantly higher than the Peel rate in 2001.

    Poverty has well documented negative impacts on the health of adults and children and if not adequately addressed will impact future health costs, including the Region’s ambulance and public health programs.

    The groups most vulnerable to poverty are also among the fastest-growing in Peel’s burgeoning population: recent immigrants, racialized communities, single parents, young families with children and unattached seniors.

    Unlike older urbanized communities, geographic concentrations of low income are much more widely dispersed in Peel.  Concentrations of low income tend to be small due to the existence of planned mixed income neighbourhoods.

    The Strategic Review of Poverty has assembled a large and growing body of information on low income and poverty which will be used in our collaborative efforts to address the root causes of poverty in a preventative way.

    Annually, Region of Peel spends over one-third of its gross controlled operating budget and one-fifth of the net property tax revenues on three programs supporting low income families in Peel:  Ontario Works, Children’s Services and Social Housing.

    Regional Council is committed to advocating for reforms to Canada’s income security system to ensure that the working poor and low income individuals in Peel have adequate income and can fully participate in the economy and society.

    Peel Human Services is committed to collaborating with community groups, businesses, other levels of government and other municipalities in the planning, design, placement and improvement of innovative services that meet the needs of vulnerable groups, reduce poverty and mitigate its effects.


    Revised: Thursday June 18 2015


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