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March 21, 2000
Toronto Families on Social Assistance Need Affordable Child Care
  
Community & Neighbourhood Services - The City of Toronto's social assistance
caseload declined in February by 906 cases, or 1.2 per cent. Last month, 74,069
cases, representing 172,490 persons, of whom 79,700 - or 46 per cent - are
children, received social assistance from the City.

Toronto's social assistance caseload has declined steadily since March 1994,
when more than 125,000 cases received assistance. The economy's continued
strength has been reflected in the high turnover of single persons entering and
then leaving the system. In February however, there was a very small increase
in the number of single people receiving assistance. Families with children
receiving social assistance declined by just over 100 cases.

Single parent cases saw the biggest decline, approximately 780 cases. But they
left the social assistance system because they no longer met the requirements
of the province's Ontario Works program. In 1999, the Ministry of Community and
Social Services transferred over 11,000 single parents to Toronto's Ontario
Works program. The city then reviewed each of these cases to make confirm
eligibility for assistance under the rules set out in the Ontario Works
legislation.

Families with children continue to make up 56 per cent of the city's social
assistance caseload. As family heads typically have a harder time finding jobs
than single persons do, city staff focus on helping parents take advantage of
Toronto's strong job market. But, commented Councillor Brad Duguid, chair of
the city's Community Services Committee, "Parents on social assistance need
affordable and safe child care so that they can get back into the job market.
As long as there isn't this kind of support, these parents will continue to be
held back from looking for work, upgrading their skills or education, or taking
a job or volunteering in an Ontario Works community placement."

Approximately 3,300 children receiving social assistance remain on the city's
subsidized child-care waiting list. The City of Toronto continues to urge the
province to make affordable child-care a top priority.


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