Latest census release provides income, family snapshot: Guysborough County lags behind positive provincial, national trends

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GUYSBOROUGH – Statistics Canada released the latest compendium of data gathered in the 2021 census last week. While previous releases focused on demographics and our aging population, the one issued on July 13 focused on income and family composition.

Median household after-tax income is up by 9.8 per cent from 2015, standing at $73,000. Statistics Canada reports, “Household after-tax income growth accelerated from 2015 to 2020, particularly among families with children, driven by increases in government transfers…After-tax income growth was faster for households with lower incomes, reflecting greater contributions of the Canada Child Benefit and pandemic relief benefits to the incomes of lower-income families.”

But the picture in Nova Scotia is a little less positive, with a median after-tax income per household in 2020 of $62,400. In Guysborough County the picture is even less rosy: Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) $49,600, Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s (St. Mary’s) $52,800, and the Town of Mulgrave $55,200.

Statistics Canada reports that, “Over two-thirds of Canadian adults received income from one or more pandemic relief programs, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).”

The prevalence of low incomes in Canada stood at 11.1 per cent in 2020. The rate fell from 14.2 per cent in the previous reporting period, 2015, which Statistics Canada attributes to the “pandemic and the income support programs introduced by governments across Canada… especially for families with children, but less for seniors and people living alone.”

Once again, the statistics show Nova Scotia and Guysborough County are lagging on these measures. The prevalence of low-income households based on the low-income measure, after tax, in the province is 14.9 per cent; MODG stands at 23.9 per cent; St. Mary’s at 20.5 per cent; and Mulgrave reports 20.4 per cent.

Part of this discrepancy may be due to single-parent households, as Statistics Canada notes: “The low-income rates for Canadians and their children living in couple-parent and lone-parent families reached historical lows in 2020. However, one-parent families, the majority of which are headed by women, remained more vulnerable to low income.”

The percentage of one-parent families in Canada is 16.4 and 17.4 in N.S. In Guysborough County, MODG has 225 one-parent families, 170 of which are led by women; St. Mary’s has 70, of which 50 are led by women; and Mulgrave has 40, of which 30 are led by women, according to the 2021 census data.

Statistics Canada states, “Employment returned to its pre-pandemic level in September 2021, as did economic activity in November 2021…most of the major COVID-19 income support programs had ended by the fall of 2021, as the CERB ended in September 2020 and the CRB ended in October 2021.”

Statistics Canada concludes income trends may “remain unsettled into 2021 and 2022.”

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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