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No end to child poverty in Canada

More than 1.35 million Canadian children live in poverty 30 years after a unanimous all-party promise to end child poverty, according to a new national poverty report card from Campaign 2000, a non-partisan coalition of 120 groups and individuals co-ordinated by Family Service Toronto.

The report, 2020: Setting the Stage for a Poverty-Free Canada, was released Jan. 14 and provides strong direction to government for ending child and family poverty.

“Despite multiple commitments to end poverty, we still have exceptionally high rates of poverty and unjustifiable levels of income equality for a country as wealthy as Canada,” says Campaign 2000 National Co-ordinator Leila Sarangi.

“As we begin a new decade under the mandate of a new minority government, we are provided with the opportunity for collaboration on the shared goal of ending poverty for all,” she says. “We cannot afford to miss another generation of children.”

Campaign 2000 was formed in the early 1990s to urge governments to deliver on an all-party House of Commons resolution to end child poverty by year 2000.

Six Campaign 2000 provincial partners also released their annual report cards on child and family poverty on Jan. 14. The Ontario report will be released in late February.

FST staffer pens caregiver column

Identifying your role as a caregiver can be empowering, writes FST social worker Erin Relyea in her first online column as a contributor.

“Being a caregiver can be one of the most challenging roles,” she notes. “It can be lonely, emotional and overwhelming to balance the needs of another person while still maintaining your own. I am still learning from caregivers and those receiving care, and am often reminded that they are the experts in what they need.”

Erin has worked as a social worker and counsellor with FST’s Seniors and Caregivers Support Services team for the last two years.

She is currently the Project Co-ordinator for the Caring for Caregivers project, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to deliver free educational workshops to those who are caring for a senior (55+).

The workshops are offered monthly in English at FST locations across the city, as well as through partner organizations and in the following communities: Afghan, Iranian, Somali, Spanish-speaking, Tamil and LGBTQI2S+ communities.

Watch for Erin’s future monthly columns on caregiving at

Happy International Women’s Day

Family Service Toronto joins the world today (March 8) in celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and supporting a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender. This year, everyone can show support through social media by visiting #BalanceforBetter and taking groundbreaking action to build a gender-balanced world.

“Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue,” notes the IWD website. “The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

In the lead up to International Women’s Day, Oxfam Canada published its annual Feminist Scorecard, tracking government action to deliver on a feminist agenda, both at home and abroad.

The scorecard assesses the steps that the federal government has taken over the last year to make progress on women’s rights and gender equality. The scorecard focuses on eight policy and spending categories that affect the lives of women in Canada, and world-wide. They include: representation, global development, climate change, care work, gender-based violence, tax, jobs and pay equity, and conflict and crisis.

Scores are reflected on a stoplight range (red, yellow and green) where the Liberal government has either made very little, some, or significant progress. Only representation and global development achieved significant development marks this year.

Read Oxfam’s Full Feminist 2019 Scorecard.

Report focuses on child poverty

Child and family poverty is a disturbing reality in every ward in Toronto, a new report from a coalition of community agencies finds. Family Service Toronto’s Campaign 2000 team contributed to the report, which uses newly released census data. The data show that ten wards in the city have a child poverty rate between 33% and 47%, but even wards with relatively low rates include areas where child poverty is pervasive, at double or triple the ward average.

The report, entitled 2018 Toronto Child & Family Poverty Report: Municipal Election Edition is the first to use census tract data to show hidden poverty within the city’s wards. The report provides thorough analysis of child poverty in Toronto, provides ward by ward child poverty rates and calls for renewed commitment to poverty reduction from Toronto City Council. You can also read the front page story in the Toronto Star.

Sharing our Vision for Pharmacare

Campaign 2000 submitted its recommendations for a national universal pharmacare program to the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. Canada’s current patchwork system of drug coverage relies on an uneven mix of contributions from the private and public sectors. This system is inconsistent, confusing for families to navigate and costly to administer. Canadians spend more on medication than residents of countries with universal, public pharmacare programs. In the current system, too many children and families fall through the cracks and cannot access required medication. It is estimated that nearly 2 million Canadians cannot afford their prescription medication

With an aging population, rapid innovation in drug development and significant potential for cost savings from a single-payer system, it is Canada to move away from the current two-tiered system of private coverage for the affluent versus contingent and partial state coverage for people in poverty. The brief states that a national universal pharmacare is both the equitable and fiscally responsible approach to improved access to medications in Canada.

FST produces resource for lawyers

FST’s Violence Against Women team and a group of survivors of gender-based violence has collaborated with fellow agencies, counsellors and lawyers to create a resource for family lawyers. The tool contains practical suggestions on how to integrate a trauma-informed approach into one’s legal practice. This project was funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario.

Tip Sheet – 2.7 mb

YWCA salutes Margaret Hancock

Family Service Toronto’s Executive Director was honoured May 24 with one of 2018’s Women of Distinction awards by the Toronto YWCA.

“Margaret Hancock’s work has created a ripple effect of inclusivity and social justice,” the YWCA states on its website. “When Margaret comes to the table she has the unique ability to harness the power of collective action to improve the lives of others.”

“Her effective consensus building battles oppression and creates solidarity with social justice networks. Her work is guided by her core beliefs of equity, inclusion, and justice… In all of Margaret’s work one aspect is unchanging: she is resolute in her commitment to make sure justice is not just for some but for all.”

Watch the Margaret Hancock Women of Distinction video posted on YouTube.

Other recipients of this year’s YWCA Women of Distinction award were Toyo Ajibolade, Zanana Akande, Pat Armstrong, Julia Deans, Lynn Factor, Marcie Pointe and Milica Radisic.

The awards were presented at a YWCA fundraising dinner at the Fairmont Royal York in support of women and girls in the city.

Margaret Hancock is the fourth woman associated with Family Service Toronto to receive the Women of Distinction award. Previous winners were:

  • Pat Israel (1989) for her work as founder of the DisAbled Women’s Network. Pat is a support worker with FST’s Seniors and Caregivers Support Services and Violence Against Women units.
  • Tamam McCallum (2007) for her community development work as a former FST counsellor.
  • Fran Odette (2008) for work around access and equity. Fran was a member of FST’s board of directors and served as chair from 2010 to 2012.

FST opens 355 Church

Our counselling and central administrative services are now open at our new downtown office at 355 Church Street.

FST previously occupied the site, which has been under redevelopment since 2015. Offices were temporarily relocated to 128A Sterling Road in the city’s west end during construction.

FST has partnered with Tridel for their Alter condominium project which sits 29 storeys above our new four-storey office podium fronting Church Street.

In late June, our Lawrence Road West offices will move to our Sterling Road location which are now under renovation.

Clients Give FST High Marks

Client satisfaction ranked high across several FST programs in our most recent survey which evaluated service accessibility, staff communication, quality and impact.

The majority of clients provided positive feedback about their FST experience. The survey showed high satisfaction with service, counsellor relationships and FST’s welcoming environment. The Client Satisfaction Survey Summary is posted in our Publications and Reports section along with a Summary of Client and Program Participant Demographic Report

FST evaluates services every three years. Programs involved in the latest survey were David Kelley Services, Families in Transition, Next Steps, Seniors and Caregivers Support Services, Violence Against Women, Counselling Services and Walk-In.

FST explores LGBTQ+ poverty

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FST’s Campaign 2000 team has assisted efforts to explore poverty among LGBTQ+ Canadians in connection with the federal government’s work towards a national Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Campaign 2000 – a non-partisan coalition of 120 groups and individuals co-ordinated by Family Service Toronto – has called for a federal anti-poverty strategy for decades and partnered with University of Toronto Prof. Lori Ross on the LGBTQ+ recommendations.

They were included as part of a joint submission to government from the Canadian Coalition Against LGBTQ+ Poverty, an emerging new group comprised of university faculty and community groups across Canada.

Read the full submission here.

Welcome to FST 5.0!

You’ve arrived.

Yes, this is Family Service Toronto. And we’re glad you’re here.

And we’re so pleased to show off our new online presence and redesigned website.
It features improved language translation and an increased profile for our social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as well as a new mobile Instagram presence for photos and updates.

This new site improves navigation for users learning about our areas of expertise and searching for diverse programs and services offered across the city. It also highlights our vision, leadership, breaking news and career opportunities.

It also coincides with the launch and integration of a new site for Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty in Canada, a national non-partisan coalition of 120 organizations co-ordinated by Family Service Toronto. A complementary provincial site for Ontario Campaign 2000 has launched with the national site.

We invite you to check out all our new sites and follow us at your favourite social media channels.

And we’d love to hear from you. Please send us your feedback at [email protected] or tweet us at #FSTonline2016

Programs and Services

Programmes en Français
Appointments and Frequently Asked Questions
Campaign 2000
Caring for Caregivers
Families in Transition
Growing Up Healthy Downtown
Healthy Families. Healthy Communities
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Options – Adults
Options – Children
Partner Assault Response
Partner Contact
Pat’s Place
Person Directed Planning
Seniors and Caregivers
Seniors Community Connections
Social Action
Transitional and Housing Support
Violence Against Women
Single Session Walk-In Counselling