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16 2013

Child poverty in Ontario deepening according to deprivation index

Syndicated from: Daily Bread Food Bank

On December 13 the Ontario government released its fourth annual progress report on its Poverty Reduction Strategy. The report measures the progress made toward reducing child poverty in Ontario by 25 percent in 5 years. The 2012 report shows that while progress was made for child poverty based solely on income-based measures, for 2009 and 2010 there was actually a slight increase in child poverty over the same period according to the Ontario Deprivation Index. That means that more children were in families that were experiencing a decrease in standard of living – not being able to afford things like fresh fruits and vegetables, or having to make difficult choices such as paying the rent or putting food on the table. This may be because the costs of basic items, such as food and fuel, are increasing beyond the rate of inflation and income levels simply can’t keep up. An income-based measure would not take in to account that living costs are going up and that a dollar in 2012 buys less than it would have even a few years ago. A combination of measures is being used to try and get a more accurate pulse of how many people are affected by poverty. These include the Low Income Measure which defines low income based on half of the median household income and the Ontario Deprivation Index. The Ontario Deprivation Index takes a closer look at the standard of living people in poverty experience, rather than how much income they earn. The Ontario Deprivation Index is a list of 10 items that the majority of Ontarians consider basic necessities and that most can afford. It was developed by Daily Bread Food Bank and the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, in partnership with Statistics Canada and the Ontario government. Households are deprived or considered poor if they do not have and cannot afford two or more items on the 10 item list. This report shows the importance of having measures such as the Deprivation Index that work with a low income measure of poverty to give a more accurate picture about the standard of living people may be experiencing.  The increase in child poverty according to the Deprivation Index shows that the Province has to continue to make this issue a priority in the upcoming Provincial budget and throughout the year.

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