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February 3, 2004
2003 Toronto Report Card on Children released
Toronto's Children's Advocate, Councillor Olivia Chow, today released the 2003
Toronto Report Card on Children. The Report Card -- the 5th annual -- is part
of the City's ongoing commitment to improving the health and well-being of
Toronto's children.

The Report Card uses a variety of social indicators to track changes in the
condition of children since the 2002 update. It measures progress in improving
their situation, and identifies gaps in service and government actions that
affect the daily lives of Toronto's youngest citizens.

The Report Card shows that 2003 was not a banner year for Toronto's children
and families. It highlights steps forward in improving their lives, but also
shows steps backwards.

"Toronto's children and families are paying for the years of fiscal restraint
and neglect by senior levels of government. School-based programs, child care
subsidies and public health programs have been eliminated, reduced or are in
severe jeopardy," said Councillor Chow.

"The City of Toronto has continued in its commitment to better serve and
support the city's children and families. Unfortunately, much of the City's
funding has gone to replace funding that the previous provincial government
took out of the system, rather than make necessary improvements in service."

Among the findings of the Report Card:
· while child poverty appears to have declined in the city overall, in some
areas of Toronto the rate of child poverty actually increased; Toronto
continues to have the largest concentration of children growing up in poverty
among its southern Ontario neighbours
· the number of subsidized child care spaces has declined
· more families with children are relying on food banks
· the number of children and families served by Toronto child welfare services
continues to rise
· the rate of low birth weight babies continues to remain higher in Toronto
than in the rest of Ontario, at 5.3 per cent for single births (outside Toronto
the rate is 4.2 per cent).

"The City plans to work with the new provincial government to develop and
implement renewed children's policies and programs," said Councillor Chow. "We
will continue to press the federal government to increase federal funding for
children's services."

The Report Card is an important source of information that is intended to serve
as a planning tool for service providers, City staff, Toronto City Council and
senior levels of government so they can decide how to invest resources. City
staff, Toronto school boards and child welfare agencies collaborated on its

For more information visit

Media contact:
Councillor Olivia Chow, Toronto's Children's Advocate,
(office) 416-392-4044, (cell) 416-567-4036



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