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February 15, 2000
Families with children make up majority of Toronto's Social Assistance caseload
  
After five years of steady decline, the City of Toronto's social assistance
caseload remained static from December 1999 to January 2000. In January, 74,975
cases - representing 175,894 people, of whom 81,500 are children - received
social assistance from the City. This is an increase of 80 cases over December
1999.

With Toronto's strong economy and consistent job growth, 59,000 fewer cases are
now receiving assistance than in June 1995 - a 48 per cent decline. But one
case can be a single person, a couple, or a family. Toronto's social assistance
program now assists mainly families with children, who make up 56 per cent of
the caseload. Five years ago, families with children comprised just 37 per cent
of Toronto's social assistance caseload. Now, single parent families alone
comprise 41 per cent of the caseload, a greater proportion than single people.

It is more difficult for families with children than for single people to get
off social assistance. Nearly 30 per cent of families stay on assistance for at
least three years. Parents need jobs that will pay them enough to support their
children. They also need affordable and safe childcare.

"With the strong economy, we're seeing more people, especially single persons,
get off social assistance. However, there is a worry that families with
children are not being as successful. They often face greater barriers to
finding work. And they need more help, particularly good quality childcare,"
said Councillor Brad Duguid, Chair of Toronto City Council's Community Services
Committee.

Changes to the Province of Ontario's social assistance program have had major
implications for Toronto. In 1998, the province introduced new social
assistance legislation requiring single parents, spouses and all adult
dependents to participate in an activity that will lead to a job. Then, in
1999, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services transferred over
11,000 single parents to Toronto's social assistance program.

Nearly 21,000 families on social assistance need childcare support so that they
can participate in Ontario Works. Over 3,300 children receiving social
assistance are now on the City's subsidized childcare waiting list.


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