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September 9, 2004
Major survey shows single parent families mired in cycle of poverty
Single parent families on social assistance in Toronto are struggling more than
ever to escape the damaging effects of living in poverty, according to a report
released today that surveyed 800 single parents.

The survey was conducted by the polling firm Pollara on behalf of the City of
Toronto. The results, discussed in Social Assistance and Social Exclusion:
Findings from Toronto Social Services' 2003 survey of single parents on Ontario
Works, reveal how single parents are struggling to raise their children, join
the labour force and integrate into their communities.

Among the report's key findings:
· Two out of three single parent families ran out of food at least once during
the previous two-year period.
· Half of single parent families were not able to pay their rent at least once
or paid it late.
· A significant proportion of single parents face major obstacles to finding
work (a much higher proportion than a similar City survey reported five years
· 40 per cent of single parents could not access reliable child care when
· Single parents had few social opportunities and supports, resulting in
feelings of isolation and exclusion for many.

The report notes that responding to the diverse needs of single parents
requires more focused strategies to help strengthen connections to the labour
market and community. This is especially important in Toronto where single
parents are faced with a highly competitive job market and rising cost of

"Today's report shows that single parents and their children are continuing to
suffer from the cycle of poverty," said Councillor Olivia Chow, Chair of the
City's Community Services Committee. "We know what needs to be done. We just
need the political will to do it."

"Time and again, research has shown that single parents are among the most
vulnerable members of our community," said Heather MacVicar, general manager of
the City's Social Services Division. "That is why housing and food security,
child care and transportation supports, health benefits and services for
dealing with depression and other family challenges, are often crucial to the
success of single parents' efforts to move off of social assistance."

A copy of the full report is available at

Media contacts:
Heather MacVicar, General Manager, Social Services, 416-392-8952
Councillor Olivia Chow, Trinity-Spadina - Ward 20, Chair, Community Services
Committee, 416-392-4044



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