With a growing aging population, the Windsor region needs to invest in youth for future economic success, according to the United Way.
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada released its 2021 census profile data, which breaks down the demographics of the region including the number of people in different age brackets, the household size and dwelling type.
The numbers show that within the Windsor Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), which includes all regions from Windsor to Leamington, there has been an increase in people aged 65 and older, but a decrease in children ranging from newborns to teens up to 14 years old.
"We're seeing a decrease in young people in our region, and in order to ensure our region's success we have to be able to keep young people here as the grow older and enter the workforce and they're starting their own families, so we need to continue to invest in young people in our communities ... that's really important to drive our local economy," said Alicea Fleming, the director of impact and community investments for United Way Windsor-Essex.
As of 2021, people 65 and older make up 19.3 per cent of the Windsor CMA population — that's a 1.6 percentage point increase since 2016. Children 14 years and younger make up 16.3 per cent of the Windsor CMA population as of last year — a 0.4 point decline since 2016.
While Fleming said the data doesn't explain why young people aren't staying in the region, United Way has anecdotally seen that there's a "skills gap" in how young people are being prepared for the jobs in the local economy.
She said this needs to be improved through training, education and a better pathway to post-secondary schooling.
And across Canada, the aging population means more people are retiring than entering the workforce, which will only create a growing gap in the coming years.
Pressure on housing market
In general, the Windsor CMA population grew by six per cent since 2016 — bringing it to 422,630 people.
But United Way emphasized that despite the increase in population, the number of single detached homes didn't change much — which could explain the pressure in the housing market.
"There was relatively no change in the percentage of single detached houses in the region from 2016 to 2021, as it still represents about 69.6 per cent of all dwelling types," Fleming said.
"This, once again, in our opinion highlights the pressure on our local housing market for single family detached homes, likely contributing to rising in housing prices and putting further affordability pressures on families living in low income."
There was an increase in the number of apartment-style dwellings and decrease in the number of row houses and semi-detached dwellings compared to 2016.