2021 Census – Military, Families and Income

Census day is here again, and if you saw on my twitter a few things jumped out at me. Let’s dig in a bit.

Military Service and Veterans Data

This is the first time Statistics Canada asked questions military service. At this point the data isn’t available at a local level but capturing at regional/Provincial where people serving are where veterans end up after their service is important.

Statistics Canada 2021

Unsurprisingly communities home to a major forces base generally are home to larger portions of the population who serve in the military. This also holds true for Veterans.

Veterans made up 1.5% of the total population aged 17 and older in 2021. Belleville–Quinte West (4.5%), Halifax (4.4%), Kingston (4.0%), Fredericton (3.8%) and Saint John (3.5%) had the highest share of Veterans among the total population aged 17 and older within Canada’s CMAs.

Statistics Canada 2021


This new data set is important as not only due active duty and veteran service members bring valuable skills and experience to communities but there is also clear relationships with challenges including poor mental health, homelessness and other social barriers. Better understanding where veterans and service persons reside can provides key insights on potential career and other post service supports for communities.


The data released on families was certainly interesting but few things really jumped out beyond the core reporting. Locally one of the new elements was identifying where multigenerational households reside in Windsor-Essex.

What is most interesting is that the location of the multi-generational households is strong correlated with the most diverse parts and affluent parts of the region (partially based on 2016 data as ethnographic data is not available for 2020 yet).

Another big takeaway was how many young people live with their parents.

The fact that Windsor remains having the third highest rate of young people living at home is actually largely unchanged from 2016 when the same was true. Now unlike other regions Windsor-Essex does have a two post-secondary education institutions in very close proximity that does enable a portion of the population to live at home and attend school. That being said there is certainly a relationship between household and family income and the ability of a young person to move away from home.

Income/Low Income

The one we are all waiting for. A wide range of income data was reported, some good, other bits not so good. Some good news is that median incomes are up.

Double digit income growth for much of the region is certainly a good news story. LaSalle breaking $100,000 as median household income is certainly a story. When visualized these income numbers are telling.

Calculated from Median Household Income

The contrast between Windsor and the rest of Essex County is pretty stark. With median income rates in the City Core being 1/4 of Lasalle and parts of Lakeshore. This map directly illustrates the income inequality challenges in our region as we are 5th most unequal region in Canada.

Statistics Canada

Although Canada is a relatively equal country particular compared to the US and others the fact that Windsor CMA (which now represents all of Essex County) as a mid-size region ranks 5th most unequal community in the country is shocking. There are likely a lot of reasons for this which may become clearer with future census releases but you can certainly look at the disruption in the auto sector of the last decade playing a role. When incomes declined between 2006-2016 they did not decline equally they declined for the bottom than the top. This obviously bridges into low income rates which are negatively correlated with the median household incomes.

Despite improvements in low income rates since the 2016 Census a big peace of that was COVID income support. In fact Essex County, was a net benefiter due to COVID supports. In 2019 Median individual income was $38,000 and in 2020 it was 40,000 – yet median market income (incomes from wages, salaries or other employment) fell from $35,600 to $33,200. At the same time median government transfers grew from $3,960 in 2019 to $10,100 in 2020. This government transfer growth represents a 6.3% increase in income share in our community. After taxes in 2020 median individual incomes went up to $36,400 from $34,800 in 2019.

In other words we have to assume a least a several thousand dollar regression to the mean has begun to occur. Yes some COVID supports were made permanent like the top ups to Old Age Security and Canada Child Benefit. These benefits disproportionate impact the lower section of the income spectrum with like contributes to the actual shrinking of the income inequality since the last Census. Most of those gains are going to be lost while high inflation hurts those at the bottom more.

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