Supporting Families to Champion Positive Youth Development
An outlook on youth’s experiences of discrimination, homelessness, and food insecurity
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.
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.
Did You Know?
- In the Halton Youth Impact Survey, children and youth who experienced discrimination were twice as likely to report some degree of food insecurity compared to their peers who did not.
- As of October/November 2020, while 13% of Halton adults participating in a Public Health survey said they could not afford balanced meals, only 2% had accessed any community food program in the previous month[vii]Halton Region (2022). Incidental Impacts of COVID-19 series: Food insecurity. Retrieved from https://www.halton.ca/Document/Health-Statistics/Incidental-impacts-of-COVID-19-series-Food-insecu/Incidental-impacts-of-COVID-19-series-Food-insecu.
- Canada-wide, those most at risk are households with low incomes and limited assets. Indigenous-led households are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, as are those led by female lone-parents and those reliant on public income supports (other than public pensions)[viii]Fafard St-Germain, A.A. (2022).
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.
Did You Know?
- Children and youth who experienced discrimination were also 4 times as likely to report lifetime homelessness compared to their peers who did not.
- Discrimination impacts the options and choices of individuals in their daily lives, such as employment, housing, and even access to services. Discrimination can be a precursor of homelessness, and in time, people may be discriminated against for being homeless[xii]Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (2015). Discrimination & Homelessness. The Homeless Hub. https://www.homelesshub.ca/blog/discrimination-homelessness.
- In 2022 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed “deep concern” about structural discrimination in Canada against Indigenous and African-Canadian children and its impact on their access to basic standards of living[xiii]Committee on the Rights of the Child (June 9,2022). Concluding observations on the combined fifth and sixth reports of Canada. Retrieved from CRC/C/CAN/CO/5-6(ohchr.org).
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). Building for the future: how youth in Halton engage in caring for their communities and the environment. 2021 Halton Youth Impact Survey.
- Open invitation sampling strategy (non-probabilistic)
- Sample is not necessarily representative of all children and youth living in Halton.
- It is not possible to determine a response rate.
- However, considering the geographic coverage and the size of the final sample, it’s fair to assume that we have a reasonably good cross-section of children and youth living in Halton.
- A higher degree of diversity within this sample calls for caution when interpreting overall ratios. For more details on the composition of the sample see the sociodemographic table
- The data are meant to provide a snapshot of youth wellbeing during COVID, and caution should be used when comparing across time.
- While each indicator is important, using multiple indicators as evidence of strengths and needs provides a more comprehensive representation
- This is a self-report survey and several types of response bias have been identified related to self-report surveys. Use caution when interpreting the findings