This Profile of Effective Practice is one of fifteen stories examining how innovative, community-based initiatives are using comprehensive approaches to improve social and economic conditions on a local level.
Cities are the home to the majority of Canadians. In 2001, 80 percent of the population lived in an urban centre, up from just under 78 percent in 1996. Cities are also the primary settlement areas for new Canadians. From a human capital perspective, these new Canadians bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the labour market. Immigrants of all categories, including independents, family class and refugees, have a substantially higher proportion of university graduates than among Canadians in the same core working age group.
However, while cities contain some of the most prosperous communities in Canada, they also contain areas of marginalization, exclusion and poverty. The former city of York in Toronto, where the Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF) is located, is one such example. Compared with the other cities in pre-amalgamated Toronto, York has the lowest percentage of population over age 25 with a university education, the lowest average total income, the highest unemployment rate, highest percentage of lone-parent families, and the highest percentage of population over age 25 with less than grade 9 education. This is the grim reality of Canada's cities.