The Facts on Street Youths

  • On any given night, approximately 33,000 Canadians are homeless, of which about 8,333 to 11,000 are youth.
  • In Toronto, a good estimate suggests there are at least 10,000 different youth who are homeless at one point, in any given year – and anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 on a given night. 60% of these youth stay in and out of youth shelters, 25% stay with “friends”, and 15% live in squats, parks, alleys, or doorways.
  • In the past 25 years there has been a 450% increase in youth shelter beds.
  • 64% of homeless youths in Canada are male.
  • 60% of homeless youth have grade 11 or less education.
  • In 2000, the number of missing children in Canada was 50,633 youth runaways. In 2003 it increased to 53,459. This figure represents a 24% increase in a decade. Numbers appear to have decreased in 2007 to 46,189 reported runaways.
  • Approximately 70% of street youth report they have experienced some form of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. Many of the remaining 30% report ongoing neglect issues.
  • 47% of street youths in Canada have been physically assaulted by a family member and 15% report sexual assault by a family member.
  • 47% of street youth report being physically attacked in 2002, 52% report being threatened with an attack, and 42% had been sexually assaulted or threatened with an assault.
  • In Toronto, based on a 1999 study, 36% of street youth earned money by panhandling, 19% from break and enters/selling drugs, 18% receive social assistance, 17% have paid employment, and 10% do sex trade work (although 31% admit to working in a sex trade at least once in their life).
  • In Ottawa, based on a 2006 study, 32% of females and 17% of males are involved in the sex trade for food, shelter, drugs, or money.
  • It costs, on average, $95,826 to imprison a young person for a year.
  • In 2004, the chances of being a victim of crime was highest among people aged 15-24.
  • The mortality rate of street youth is 13 times higher than for other youth.
  • In a recent Quebec study, the homeless youth mortality rate was 11 times higher than the general population of youth between the ages of 14 and 25.
  • A study conducted in 1997-98 by the Hospital of Sick Children found that female street youth are more likely to get pregnant at a rate 2-3 times higher than the general population of youth. Miscarriages were 2-4 times higher among street youth.
  • 59% of female street youth have reported at least 1 pregnancy and the average age of the first pregnancy was 16.7 years.
  • HIV was found in 1.85% of homeless Montreal youth.
  • In 2003, the prevalence of Hepatitis C Virus among street youth was 4.5%.
  • 80% of street youth reported smoking ½ pack of cigarettes daily.
  • In a 2003 Health Canada Report, 95% of street youth report use of at least one drug in their life, and 80.6% report consuming alcohol in the 3 months prior to being surveyed. Drug use is 7 times higher than the general population.
  • 41% of Toronto street youths reported injecting drugs at some point in their life, as opposed to 20% among Canadian street youth. Of those users, 31% report no use of clean injection equipment.
  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit states that 36.9% of youth in Northwestern Ontario are using marijuana and prescription drugs regularly.
  • In a 2001 Thunder Bay study, “Youth Homelessness in Thunder Bay, A Snapshot”, 467 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 were identified as homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
  • Outreach Program stats for 2007 include approximately 175 clients seen, 569 community contacts made (phone and direct), and 2253 direct contacts with clients (stats also include student contacts).