Windsor has the highest rate of children living in low-income households, and the largest decline of household income of any large urban city in Canada, according to a Statistics Canada analysis of the 2016 census released Wednesday morning.
According to the report, nearly one in four Windsor children (24 per cent) were living in a low‑income household in 2015. The report states this is consistent with the fact that the median household total income in Windsor dropped 6.4 per cent between 2005 and 2015, "the largest decline of any large city."
The report attributed the loss in income to the decline in manufacturing in Ontario.
"It's not the same as poverty," said senior research analyst at Statistics Canada Nell Hamalainen. "It's an aspect of what some people would consider to be poverty but it's really just whether their household income is less than half of the median household income in Canada."
Tillsonburg came in second-last place with a 5.7 per cent decrease in income. The report said both cities had "about one-quarter" of their workforce in manufacturing in 2005.
Ontario metropolitan areas had the largest increases in low income rates, with Windsor's rising from 14 per cent in 2005 to 17.5 per cent in 2015.
"Income levels in Windsor may have changed since they were measured in 2015 with the census," said Hamalainen adding that the census provides a snapshot' of data from a certain point in time and not up-to-date numbers.
"What the census gives you is still a broad indicator of what is going on overall," she said.
Victoria Larsh said she's tired of watching friends and family tighten their belts as Windsor continues to deal with losses in manufacturing. The Windsor woman graduated from St. Clair College in April, but has yet to find a job in advertising and graphic design.
"I see my family and my friends they're all downgrading their level of living and dealing with tighter incomes and tighter budgets," she said.
Mayor Drew Dilkens says the latest round of numbers doesn't take the Child Tax Credit introduced in 2016 into account, but he's still taking the situation very seriously.
"I'm disturbed by the numbers I'm seeing," he said. "We're doing everything we can and we're prepared to put more resources on the table to address this concern that we see today."
But the situation may not be so bad. According to a spokesperson from the Conference Board of Canada Windsor's economy has been growing over the last three years.
Alan Arcand said 5,000 manufacturing jobs have been created in the Windsor area since 2015 and he expects the economy to grow another two per cent next year.
But, he added, the new jobs may be lower paying than the manufacturing jobs people had before.
Rate of low-income seniors rises
The report showed household income in Canada rose 10.8 per cent between 2005 and 2015 overall, and slightly fewer young children are living in low-income households.
However, the number of seniors living in low income households went up to 14.5 per cent in 2015, largely due to an aging population, according to the report.
The numbers also indicate most Canadian households are saving for their retirement, more couples are contributing equally to their earnings, and the rate of inequality has been largely flat over the last decade.