So how do we integrate the blustery politics and crazed gyrations of the Rob Ford era with lived reality and genuine human aspiration on the ground in Toronto? The amalgamated mega-city of Toronto is, we know, home to suburban poverty. Has the nation’s largest city become a suburban project with an urban core turned politically into a fringe element? What is the role of income in determining who supports Ford? Was Ford’s ascent to power really boosted by a suburban politics of resentment that will never reconcile with the non-suburban other? If this is true does it reflect what the people want and what are the chances for a more progressive future politically and economically with a little less of the unhappiness this bipolarity seems to guarantee. It’s looking messy and interesting and messy so if suburban-poverty.com’s readers are getting frustrated and turned off, well, we don’t blame you one bit. A possible filter for some of the bullshit exists online in academic Zack Taylor’s efforts to match voting patterns and income in the 2010 election won by Ford on his simplified neoconservative platform of stopping the abusive, out of control gravy train he alleged Toronto had become. Make a coffee and sit down to Metapolis.
In search of a winning progressive coalition – bullet point summary
…and as a more detailed .pdf file with maps
image: Roman coin depicting a citizen voting – via Wikimedia Commons
HungerCount 2013 has been released and it shows a dip in the overall number of people using food banks in Canada. That’s a good thing. But even a quick scan of the report is tough reading. Food banks exist in every part of the country and are patronized by some 882,000 people. That’s enough to see hunger as a product of the system and not the result of defective luck or character, isn’t it? In some provinces over forty percent of the persons served by food banks are children. This is where we are, Canada.
HungerCount 2013 is produced by Food Banks Canada, an umbrella organization that analyzes food need and makes policy recommendations. In the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area the international spectacle of Rob Ford has kept this report from a place in the media that you might expect it to have in a serious society run by grown ups. That’s a bad thing.
Hopefully the report and its recommendations will get proper attention soon. There’s even an iPod app for the HungerCount.
Almost as sickening as the moral relativism of the mayor of Toronto in a time of social difficulty as exemplified in this year’s HungerCount is the nation’s Prime Minister. Fresh from a party conference in snowy Calgary is Stephen Harper. The important issue there is how soon Canada will adopt right wing, American-style labour law.
40-page .pdf file from Food Banks Canada
For previous HungerCounts back to 2008 visit this page
Say No To Hunger
Hard on the heels of a report from the manager of the city’s food bank is another less-than-encouraging picture of social conditions in Mississauga. This time from the Community Foundation of Mississauga. Vital Signs documents like the newest one for Mississauga are produced by community foundations all over Canada. They offer a compelling and critical look at where things are at. …could be better Mississauga. The fact that 1 in 4 residents struggle to cover basics like rent and groceries and transportation here is a bit of a kick in the head.
This posting’s image is something of a front line moment in the response to social difficulty in Mississauga. It’s from one of the food drives put on by the regional police. This particular “cram-a-cruiser” drive stocked up the food pantry at a drop in centre that assists many people in uncertain situations, living the precarious lives described in a Vital Signs report. In just a few hours the police are able to leverage their credit in the community and secure a large quantity of staple items, one or two at a time, from willing people doing their weekly shop. A powerful example of what can result from people working together.
Mississauga’s Vital Signs Facts
We’ve had the weekend to absorb the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report on youth joblessness in Ontario. Pass the Tylenol.
On Friday the good folks at the centre forced us to consider the prospect of a lost generation. Windsor, Oshawa, Brantford and London carry youth unemployment rates at twenty percent which places them in the same danger zone experienced by many European Union member nations in recent years. Toronto is right behind these communities with just over eighteen percent, according to the report. The Statistics Canada data in the document indicates that in five years youth have seen little in the way of meaningful participation in recovery and can expect to continue to live impaired lives in terms of employment.
Ontario’s youth unemployment among worst in Canada: Toronto has highest unemployment rate for 15-24-year-olds
cbc.ca – includes short video
The young and the jobless: youth unemployment in Ontario
image: young woman working by Bill Branson via Wikimedia Commons
Seventeen percent of the population of suburban-poverty.com’s resident city live in poverty. Mississauga’s poverty rates are driven by the nasty combination of high housing costs and lacklustre wages. Toronto sits at a poverty rate of twenty-three percent and Winnipeg is at eleven percent by way of comparison. Mississauga Food Bank just released a report on social conditions here and the reading of it is a sombre sitting indeed.
The face of hunger in Mississauga 2013 8-page .pdf file
(205) Our own backyard
(99) Mississauga is broke
(3) A place called Mississauga
image: aerial view of central Mississauga by Jok2000 via Wikimedia Commons
Chicago’s bloggers and mass media have been commenting on the analysis of 2011 census data from the federal government by an area non-profit called the Heartland Alliance. They’ve confirmed that suburban poverty is reason for concern and many Chicago area counties are part of this significant change.
Posted to 312 the chicagomag.com staff blog is an article from this summer with a link to a mapping tool that displays the progress of Chicago’s suburban poverty from 1980 to 2010: How poverty moved to Chicago’s suburbs
Poverty increases fast in Chicago suburbs
Face of US poverty: these days, more poor live in suburbs than in cities
Christian Science Monitor feature starts a look at the national picture of suburban poverty in Harvey, IL
Study shows minimum wage workers need to work 82 hours/week to afford rent
chicagoist.com posting with a link to study from National Low Income Housing Association
How poor we are: Chicago and the suburbs
Chicago is the World
image: CTA bus on Milwaukee Avenue in 1981 by H. Zychowski via Wikimedia Commons
Money, money, money. Studies, studies, studies.
Do you want to be well off, young man? Then have your dad get you into his workplace, preferably one he is the owner of. A new study using data from Canada and Denmark, both countries known for comparatively reasonable levels of opportunity and equality, indicates that nepotism is a major strategy for maintaining family wealth and privilege.
Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility
29-page .pdf file from author Miles Corak’s blog
image: DJ Shin via Wikimedia Commons
Psychological Science presents material this month linking bullying in childhood to a host of ills in adult life, including lower incomes and financial difficulty. This should probably align with the experience and intuition of most of us. Both bully and victim are subject to this influence it seems. Bullying has some resonance for pretty much every single one of us. If we were not subject to some degree of it, then surely we saw it somewhere, heard stories or even perpetrated bullying (or all of these things!).
This commonality should help make anti-bullying efforts in schools and elsewhere even easier to agree upon. An anti-bullying environment helps inoculate children and communities against poverty. At least, that is suburban-poverty.com’s take away from this item which seems to have been picked up fairly widely. The list of things contributing to poverty and social difficulty is a long, evolving and complicated one.
The full text of the report is available here:
Impact of Bullying in Childhood on Adult Health, Wealth, Crime, and Social Outcomes
image: actress Mary Pickford in Rebecca (1917) via Wikimedia Commons
Citizens for Public Justice have been adding value to the discussion of social issues in Canada on a regular basis for decades. They look into Canada’s post-2008 labour market numbers with the type of concern for the general quality of life that seems a little absent on the part of government.
Poverty trends scorecard: labour market trends, July 2013
A lot of the material aggregated at suburban-poverty.com relies on descriptions and impressions taken at the local level. This item from Better! Cities & Towns carries the weight of academic statistics into the mix to good effect. The result of the work described seems to indicate that the accessibility and Walkscore data for American communities can be attached to census data regarding income mobility and the result is a picture of greater opportunity over time for traditional, higher density urban areas than is found where there is sprawl and lower levels of accessibility. The presence of Walkscore data in this effort is especially interesting, referring as it does to the level of amenity (schools, pools, jobs, transit, movie theatres, government services, parks, doctors offices and so forth) available to a given person within about half a kilometer of where they live. The findings here seem to provide support for what has been directly observed about suburban poverty by journalists and citizens for some time now. The result is a potentially very powerful tool for assessing reality.
Intergenerational mobility vs. sprawl: is there a connection?