What? In Toronto, poverty and hunger are shifting out of the city core and into the suburbs. Between 2008 and 2015, food bank demand in three inner suburbs (North York, Scarborough, and Etobicoke) rose 45% and declined 16% in the city core. The shift is driven by a labour market turn towards low-paying service jobs, increasingly unaffordable housing, and social-assistance payments out-of-sync with the cost of living. In these suburbs, NGOs are struggling to meet the relatively rapid rise in food bank demand.
So what? While for now suburban poverty in Canada seems limited to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, it could be an issue to monitor due to potential drivers such as the rise in Canadian inequality and the urban lifestyle preferences of the millennial generation. The recent widespread growth of suburban poverty in the U.S. is instructive as to the complications this poses for delivery of essential support services. Between 2000 and 2010, poverty in the U.S. grew 40% (from 33.0 million to 46.2 million), with the fastest growth in city suburbs, often as city cores gentrified. While the U.S. may have different development patterns driving suburban poverty, the consequences are proving a predicament for public and non-profit service delivery as more poor Americans now live in suburbs than in cities. Non-profit organizations that typically focused on urban poverty are now wrestling with how to serve more scattered populations. In the U.S., as in Canada, needed services such as health clinics, food pantries, legal services, and subsidized housing all tend to be centrally located.
- The Globe and Mail - Toronto's food banks see rising demand in inner suburbs
- The Globe and Mail - B.C.'s hidden new face of poverty
- Governing - Suburbs Struggle to Aid the Sprawling Poor