Homeless Youth in Ontario

Homeless Youth in Ontario (in the last 5 years)

Researcher: Alex Reurink


In Canada there is a minimum of 35,000-50,000 youth on the streets, from this 1,000-2,000 of these youth are located in Toronto alone. 65% of these youth have failed to complete high school, 77% are unemployed, 30% are involved in some sex trade 1 in 5 youth identify as LGBTQ, and studies have shown over 70% for these youth had suffered from some sort of abuse at their homes before leaving.

Who they are:

Youth in Ontario (and Canada) in considered an individual who is 25 years old or younger, most of the homelessness youth population falls between 19-25 years of age. The average individual leaves home at the age of 15 to live on the streets. There are more men than females’ homeless in Ontario, but only but a brief margin.  Now homelessness is not simply sleeping on the streets, it is more not have a stable place to stay. If a person is constantly coach surfing or sleeping in shelters they are considered homeless under Canada’s definition.

What Causes Homelessness:   

There are several different reasons why someone might be homeless in Ontario such as: lack of education, abuse, shortage of jobs, expensive housing, and addictions. However when dealing specifically with youth the reasons seem to deal with issues in the family.

Hazards/ Dangers to the homeless youth:

Homeless youth are much more likely to be threatened and/or attacked on the streets, attacks being robbed, held at knife point or being sexual assaulted. These youth are much more likely to be subset able to sickness and disease, specifically dealing with sexual transmitted diseases and pregnancy. These woman are 3x more likely to get pregnant. For woman who got pregnant (on average around ages 16-17) they are at a high risk of miscarrying. The reasons for this is because of poor nutrition, higher rates of substance abuse, and issues affected by sexual transmitted disease.

There is also increased risk of exploitation, violence, victimization, greater involvement in the police and justice system, disengagement in school, stress, depression, suicide and anxiety disorders.

Action Plans:


  • Poverty Reduction Plan


  • Goal is of lifting 25% of Ontario youth out of poverty in a 5 year span
  • Breaking the cycle of poverty: This includes high quality child care, health care, education and the support and attention youth need
    • A grassroots idea of trying to help the family to ensure that that the youth do not end up homeless in the first place
    • This is also being specifically targeted to higher at risk minorities groups such as first nations
    • Nutrition programs that provide free food
    • Initiatives to pay for youth to be involved in extracurricular activities
    • Summer school programs
    • Youth-in-transition program: connects young people with employment and education resources
    • Moving on Mental Illness action plan + special needs strategy
    • Local Poverty Reduction fund:
      • Supporting 15 projects that strengthen the well-being of children and youth
  1. Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Policy Brief: Towards an Ontario Youth Homelessness Strategy
  • Encompasses: knowledge base, community action, youth engagement, provincial engagement, federal commitment, and A way Home Canada (The emergence of A Way Home – a cross-sectoral, national coalition employing a solutions-focused approach to systemic change, program planning and implementation – provides an opportunity for the province to move quickly to support communities to engage in this work. A Way Home is dedicated to co-creating and amplifying solutions with communities and all levels of Government) (COH, 2015)
    • Grassroots idea
  • Focuses on three things: the prevention in order to stop it before it happens, a emergency or crisis response, and lastly need to move youth into a safe and planned way with the appropriate support systems in place







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