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Child & Family Inequities Score

The Child & Family Inequities Score provides a summary measure of the socio-economic challenges that children and families experience. The Child & Family Inequities Score is a tool to help explain the variation in socio-economic barriers across the City of Toronto neighbourhoods. While other composite measures of socio-economic disadvantage in the City exist, the Child & Family Inequities Score is unique because it uses indicators that are specific to families with children under the age of 12.

Figure 1: 2021 Child & Family Inequities Score Map

The map below shows the Child & Family Inequities Score by neighbourhood. Neighbourhoods are divided into four groups, with scores in the top 25% considered to have a ‘Very High’ level of inequities (shown in dark grey), and scores in the next 25% considered to have ‘High’ inequities (shown in dark blue), and so on to ‘Low’ inequities (medium blue) and ‘Very Low’ inequities (lightest blue). Hover over a neighbourhood to see the inequities level and child population.

*Please note that these maps are based on the 158 social planning neighbourhoods introduced in 2022. To learn more and find your neighbourhood, visit the City of Toronto’s Neighbourhood Profile Page.

Figure 2: 2021 Child Population by Inequities Level Dashboard

The dashboard below shows the total child population (ages 0-12) in each inequity level. Out of 331,185 children ages 0-12 living in Toronto, 100,440 or 30% live in very high inequity neighbourhoods. An additional 25% of children ages 0-12 live in high inequity neighbourhoods. Therefore, more than half of all children living in Toronto reside in either high or very high inequity neighbourhoods. This bar graph shows a clear trend: As the inequity level increases, the child population also increases. There are 40% more children living in very high inequity level neighbourhoods than very low inequity neighbourhoods. In each inequity level, wider bars indicate neighbourhoods with more children, while narrower bars indicate neighbourhoods with less children. Hover over a bar to view neighbourhood information.

Figure 3: 2021 Child and Family Inequities Table

This table shows the 5 indicators that make up the Child & Family Inequities Score as well as child population for children aged 0-6 and 0-12.

How was it made?

The Child & Family Inequities Score is a summary measure derived from five indicators which describe inequities experienced by the child and family population in each of Toronto’s 158 neighbourhoods. The choice of indicators was informed by roundtable discussion with experts and researchers that were brought together by the Toronto Child & Family Network, as well as research on the effects of socioeconomic status on child well-being, and the social determinants of child health. These five determinants were chosen because they are known social determinants of child health and well-being that reflect the important role that social demographic factors play in influencing healthy child development. Figure 3 shows the definition and weighting of the five indicators used in the creation of the Child & Family Inequities Score. For more information on how the original Child & Family Inequities Score was created, please refer to the Technical Report.

Figure 3: Indicators and weights included in the Child & Family Inequities Score

40% Low Income Measure Percent of families with an after-tax family income that falls below the Low Income Measure.
15% Parental Unemployment Percent of families with at least one unemployed parent/caregiver.
15% Low Parental Education Percent of families with at least on parent/caregiver that does not have a high school diploma.
15% No Knowledge of Official Language Percent of families with no parents who have knowledge of either official language (English or French).
15% Core Housing Need Percent of families in core housing need according to Statistics Canada definition
A caveat on the use of income data for years affected by COVID-19 pandemic benefits

In 2020, 15% of families with children ages 0-12, had an income below Statistics Canada’s Low-Income Measure After Tax (LIM-AT) as compared to 25% in 2015. This reduction is largely attributed to the Canadian Federal Government’s introduction of temporary income support measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures were intended to offset losses in employment income. As a result, Canadians experienced an accelerated growth of after-tax household income, particularly amongst lower-income families and families with children. Approximately 15.5% of all Torontonians’ income came from government transfers such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), and permanent transfers including GST/HST credits and the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). [1]

After careful analysis, it was determined the 2021 census data should be used in the calculation of the Child & Family Inequities Score and be interpreted with caution due to the influence of temporary pandemic support measures.

The rationale for this decision is below:

The absence of alternative data sources:

The T1 Family File (T1FF) is an annual tax filer income database that would not suffice as an alternative data source for estimating low-income in the Score due to the incomparable size of its population and geography misalignment. Even though more recent data is available from the T1FF, it is not a viable alternative data source for these, and other reasons listed below. Furthermore, combining information from the Census and the T1FF raises methodological concerns as the T1FF does not contain all the information required to calculate the scores.

1. Difference in the applicable population: On T1FF, anyone who files their taxes, and their dependents are in scope, regardless of where they live. On the census, the location of a respondent is based on their principal residence and includes only individuals living in private dwellings.

2. The main unit of analysis: The T1FF uses census family unit while the Census uses household.[2] This triggers a misalignment of the family structure breakdowns used in the Child & Family Inequities Score.

3. Calculation of the LIM on the Census is based on household (LIM-AT) while it is based on the census family in T1FF (CFLIM-AT):

a. Internationally, researchers tend to use household-based low-income measures since it takes into consideration the sharing of the resources by people living together regardless of their relationship.
b. All previous updates of the score used LIM based on households.
c. While this distinction yields higher low-income rates, trends between the two data sources are comparable. [3]

4. Geographic misalignment: The custom neighbourhood geographies that Statistics Canada uploaded to the Census database are not directly transferrable to the taxfiler database, which uses postal codes as the building block. This would cause neighbourhood boundaries to misalign.

a. Furthermore, combining data using a different methodology to assign geography could lead to inconsistencies between the various indicators used to calculate the score.
b. Additionally, while the Census is interested in the location of the principal residence, the T1FF uses the information provided by the tax filer to the Canada Revenue Agency to assign a geography.

5. Consistency of data sources: Keeping sources and methodology the same across updates of the Child & Family Inequities Score is also a priority.

An alternative option is to continue to use 2016 Census data which uses the 2015 tax filer data. However, this dataset is almost 10 years old and does not reflect the significant increases to the CCB which started in July 2016.

Permanent increase to CCB will continue to drive a decrease in poverty:

Based on data from the Census of Population, the low-income rate in Toronto’s families with children aged 0-12 decreased from 25% in 2015 to 15% in 2020, a 42% decrease.

A substantial decrease in poverty was driven by additional government transfers during this period, most significantly through temporary pandemic relief such as CERB but also with permanent increases to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). This permanent increase to the CCB helped to increase families income above the poverty line. The CCB was implemented in 2016 and is a tax-free income support program targeting low- and middle-income families, to assist with the cost of raising children.

Studies have shown that children in families near the higher-end threshold of low-income were more likely to be bumped above the poverty line by the CCB. However, children in families that were at a much lower income level did not see the same benefit.[4] Therefore, families experiencing deeper poverty did not benefit enough from the CCB.

Given that pandemic-related benefits were temporary, Statistics Canada will continue to examine poverty trends during the post-pandemic period to determine if the low poverty rates observed in 2020 will be sustained into the future. This is important in the context of record-low unemployment and excessive inflation. Although much of the decrease in poverty is due to temporary measures, it is likely that the permanent increase to the CCB will provide lasting improvements in the level of poverty among families.

The homogenous effect of income growth across families:

On average, Toronto neighbourhoods experienced a 10-percentage point decrease in low-income families. Of all Toronto neighbourhoods, 99% saw a decrease or no change in percent low-income families, while 2 neighbourhoods saw a 1-percentage point increase in low-income families.

The relative and composite nature of the Child & Family Inequities Score:

Income is one of 5 indicators that make up the Child & Family Inequities Score. To determine each neighbourhood’s inequities level each indicator is z-standardized, weighted, summed and sorted by score and split into 4 equal groups. The 40 highest scoring neighbourhoods being “Very high inequities” and the 40 lowest scoring neighbourhoods being “Very low inequities”. This recent update saw 78% of neighbourhoods remaining in the same inequities level, as compared to 2016. All neighbourhoods that changed inequities level moved up or down by only one level. Due to the comparative nature of this composite score, neighbourhoods are compared against each other, which means the overall decrease in low-income prevalence is experienced relatively.


[1] 2021 Census Backgrounder Families Household Marital Status Income (

[2] A census family consist of couple families with or without children and lone-parent families. A household takes into consideration the living arrangements and not the relationships between household members.

[3] Low Income Measure: Comparison of Two Data Sources, T1 Family File and 2016 Census of Population (


How can it be used?

The Child & Family Inequities Score is used throughout Raising the Village to demonstrate the important role inequities play in contextualizing child outcomes in the City. For examples of how the Child & Family Inequities Score can be used to explain outcomes, please see Physical Development, Emotional Maturity, Social Competency, Language and Cognitive Development and Communication and General Knowledge.

The Child & Family Inequities Score is not intended to be used to select “priority” neighbourhoods. Rather, it provides a summary score that allows us to quantify the level of inequities experienced by children and families in a neighbourhood while simultaneously considering five different indicators of inequity. The Child & Family Inequities Score is a powerful tool for understanding inequities that affect child and family well-being outcomes across the City, but it is only one measure. Communities are complex and multi-dimensional. Many neighbourhoods with Very High inequities also have resilient or protective factors, and many families in those communities may still experience good outcomes.