Report on child poverty shows greater Montreal has room for improvement
A wide-ranging study of the status of people who live in and around Montreal shows that the region does rather poorly on an international scale when it comes to food security, poverty, and peace and abuse, but is better than average at reducing inequality and providing quality education.
The Foundation of Greater Montreal presented its Vital Signs report to the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, outlining the status of children in the metropolis and it found that more than one in ten children in Montreal either don't get enough to eat, or are not eating well.
The report was prepared in conjunction with organizations that help youth throughout the region, such as the NDG Food Depot.
"Were hearing this from the schools, we're hearing this from social workers, lots of different groups have come to us and asked what we can do to help food insecurity for youth," said Robyn Dalton, president of the charity.
The Vital Signs report shows that 50 percent of high school students in greater Montreal do not eat breakfast before they go to school.
Yvan Gauthier, president of the FGM, said that according to the report Canada did not do well in dealing with relative poverty and hunger.
"The report that UNICEF released last June comparing Canada with 40 other rich countries, Canada ranks 37 on 41, so it's kind of a Canadian problem on the question of children and hunger," he said.
On that scale Montreal and Quebec were the best places to be in Canada for children, with poverty rates below the national average.
Montreal had the best showing of any metropolis in Canada, due in large part to income tax redistribution.
Despite that, the report found that 35, 000 children in greater Montreal use food banks each month, although the number of dependants in Montreal had dropped, while it rose in the suburbs.
"The NDG Food Depot started as an emergency measure 30 years ago and we're still in existence, still trying to serve the immediate needs and trying to dig deeper," said Dalton.
The study also examined anxiety and stress, and showed that girls are more likely than boys to experience intense stress.
Sylvie Lauzon of the Fondation les Petits Tresors said treatment should be quicker.
"Twenty-five percent of kids have an anxiety problem. Not a slight anxiety, not an anxiety about exams, but an anxiety that causes them not to function very well," she said.
"If we do nothing with the kids, we don't do prevention, we don't treat them, I don't know what society will look like in 20-25 years."
With elections coming next month in all municipalities in Quebec, the FGM hopes these issues will be addressed.
"We've been working in health, education, environment. I think it's time to put our forces together and find a solution," said Gauthier.