In 2019 UNICEF[i]UNICEF Canada (2019). Where Does Canada Stand? The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being, 2019 Baseline Report. UNICEF Canada. reported that 35% of youth in Canada experienced discrimination or unfair treatment in the past five years.
Similarly, 37% of young people participating in the Halton Youth Impact Survey experienced discrimination or unfair treatment in the previous year. The most frequently reported reason for discrimination was race or ethnicity. Both Indigenous and other racialized children and youth[ii]Black, East Asian, and Southeast Asian. were more likely to report experiencing discrimination than their non-racialized peers.
Young people with a chronic illness or disability were twice as likely to report experiencing discrimination than those not living with a chronic illness or disability. However, “disability” was one of the least mentioned causes for discrimination, even within this group[iii]Among children and youth living with a chronic illness or disability who had experienced discrimination, 28% reported they were discriminated because of a disability..
Youth reporting experiences of discrimination were less likely to have a strong sense of community belonging. They were more likely to report low community support and higher levels of social isolation. They were also more likely to feel lonely compared to their peers who had not reported discrimination.
Food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. It is a serious public health problem, and a matter of public policy[iv]Feeding America (2022). What is food insecurity in America? https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity/.
Results from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Income Survey show that 16% of households in Ontario experienced some degree of food insecurity in 2021. Of the total number of children and youth under 18 in the surveyed households, almost 21% were food insecure[v]Fafard St-Germain, A.A. (2022) Household food insecurity in Canada, 2021. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from https://proof.utoronto.ca/. Whereas the Halton Youth Impact Survey results are not directly comparable to those of the Canadian Income Survey[vi]The Halton Youth Impact Survey assessed food insecurity with 7 questions. Participants in our survey were considered food insecure if they had at least one affirmative answer to the 7 questions. Whereas the Halton Youth Impact survey collected data on each respondent, the Canadian Income Survey collected data on households – a closer estimate would be the number of children and youth under 18 that are food insecure in Canada. However, the methodologies are different, and the highly diverse Halton Youth
Impact Survey sample may also impact the overall food insecurity ratio reported here., the National numbers highlight the importance and magnitude of this problem.
Twenty-eight percent of children and youth in Halton report experiencing some degree of food insecurity. This percentage is higher for some children and youth. For example, there is a higher percentage of food-insecure children and youth among Indigenous participants and among participants who perceived their families as not well-off. As food prices continue to rise, these numbers may underestimate the current experience of some families in Halton.
Food security questions are organized from least to most severe food insecurity. The order is based on Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2021, by V. Tarasuk, T. Li and A.A. Fafard St-Germain, 2022. Data cannot be directly compared as methodologies and questionnaires are different. Participants impacted by food insecurity could have affirmative answers in more than one item.
According to Statistics Canada, there are many definitions of homelessness. However, it is mostly described as a situation where individuals or families live without stable, safe, permanent, appropriate housing, or have the immediate prospect, means, and ability to acquire it.
Homelessness can be defined as unsheltered homelessness, which includes living on the streets, living in places not appropriate for human habitation, or staying in shelters. Living temporarily with family or friends due to not having a place to live is known as hidden homelessness.
Homelessness is a relevant social concern in Canada. In 2018, 3% of the persons[ix]15 years old and above making housing decisions for their household had experienced unsheltered homelessness, while 15% had experienced hidden homelessness[x]Uppal, S. (2022). “A portrait of Canadians who have been homeless.” Insights on Canadian Society. March. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 75-006-X; Statistics Canada, Canadian Housing Survey, 2018..
The Halton Youth Impact Survey assessed lifetime homelessness, which captures whether participants had ever experienced homelessness (sheltered or hidden), even if that is not their current situation. Lifetime homelessness has been connected to poorer socioeconomic and health outcomes[xi]Uppal, S. (2022)..
In Halton, 16% percent of respondents had experienced some form of homelessness at some point in their lives. Similar to the Canadian Housing Survey results, in Halton, Indigenous children and youth were more likely to have been affected by homelessness at some point in their lives compared to non-racialized participants. Other racialized children and youth were also more likely to report lifetime homelessness compared to their nonracialized peers.
Young people living with a chronic illness or disability, compared to their peers not living with a chronic illness or disability, were more likely to report experiencing homelessness.
Young people reporting lifetime homelessness were less likely to report a strong sense of belonging to their community and more likely to report low community support compared to their peers who had not experienced homelessness.
Family meals are an essential aspect of family life. Eating together can improve relationships and give a sense of stability and connectedness. In the Halton Youth Impact Survey, children and youth who had at least one meal with one adult member of their family 5 days a week were more likely to report stronger positive relationships within their families.
However, to ensure quality time together, families need strong support systems that secure their basic needs. When basic needs are met, families can more easily enjoy quality time together, which is important for building and maintaining strong family connections and home life. For example, children and youth reporting food insecurity were around 60% less likely to enjoy regular meals[xiv]One meal with at least one adult from their family 5 days a week with at least one adult from their families.
Young people working full-time or part-time were also less likely to have regular meals with at least one adult from their families.
Suggested citation: Our Kids Network (2023). Supporting Families to Champion Positive Youth Development. 2021 Halton Youth Impact Survey.
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