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Poverty, homelessness rates high in Canada: reports


08:29, June 20, 2013

OTTAWA, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Half of status First Nations children on reserves in Canada live in poverty, while at least 30, 000 Canadians are homeless on any given night, according to two reports released Wednesday.

At a rate of 40 percent, indigenous children in Canada are over two-and-a-half times more likely to live in poverty than non- indigenous children whose poverty rate is 15 percent, says the Poverty or Prosperity study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children Canada.

It found that the poverty rate for immigrant children is 33 percent, or 11 percentage points higher than the poverty rate for visible-minority, or non-white, children.

But the situation Canadian Aboriginal children face is most dire, where two out of three status First Nations children in the central-west Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan live in poverty.

To bring all children in Canada up to the poverty line would cost 7.5 billion Canadian dollars annually, of which 1 billion dollars is required for indigenous children and over half of that (580 million dollars) directed to lifting status First Nations children to the poverty line.

Another report by the Canadian Homelessness Research Network and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness found that at least 200,000 Canadians access emergency homeless or violence against women shelters; are provisionally accommodated in such places as prisons or hospitals; or simply sleep outdoors in any given year.

On any given night in Canada, as many as 50,000 people are estimated to be "hidden" homeless, which includes those who are temporarily staying with friends, relatives or others "because they have nowhere else to live and no immediate prospect of permanent housing," says the State of Homelessness in Canada 2013 report.

Nearly half (47 percent) of Canada's homeless are single adult males between the ages of 25 and 55, according to a Canadian government study, and the report estimates that young people comprise about 20 percent of Canada's homeless population.

The study says that Aboriginal people are "overrepresented" among homeless populations in most Canadian communities, while violence and poverty are the main causes of homelessness for women and families.

In what is billed as the first extensive Canadian report card on homelessness, the study also found that the annual cost of homelessness to the Canadian economy is 7.05 billion dollars. Enditem (1 U.S. dollar = 1.0280 Canadian dollars)

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