Saint John Poverty Concentrated In Two Wards

 


Ward Poverty in Saint John


It will hardly come as a shock to anyone to hear that Saint John's neighboring municipalities enjoy higher family incomes and lower poverty rates than the City.

 

Neither should it come as a surprise that the rates of overall and child poverty vary among neighbourhoods in Saint John. After the 2006 census, we were able to collect data for small geographies and identify five “priority neighbourhoods”– Crescent Valley, the Old North End, the Lower West Side, the South End and the Waterloo Village area. At that time, neighbourhood levels of poverty ranged from 24.0% to 52.6% (using Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Off – LICO)

 

With changes to the last census in 2011 – in particular, replacing the mandatory long-form  census with a voluntary national household survey – we can no longer reliably track poverty rates and other social conditions in our neighbourhoods.

 

What we are able to do is use 2012 taxfiler data at the census tract-level to calculate poverty rates in the city’s four wards. The results are stark, and show a huge difference within the city’s boundaries. While the overall poverty rate in Saint John (using Statistics Canada’s Low Income Measure) in 2012 was 19.4%, it ranged from a low of 10.8% in Ward 1 to a high of 31.1% in Ward 3.

 

The difference was even greater when comparing rates of child poverty – 17.2% in Ward 1 and a staggering 47.0% in Ward 3. Rates of poverty in Wards 2 and 3 are up to three times higher that the rates in Wards 1 and 2.

 

This is a distinguishing feature of income poverty in our region: its concentration in neighbourhoods (and two wards) in Saint John.

Within the Saint John Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) overall rates of poverty range from a low of 6.2% in Quispamsis (2011 population: 17,886) to 31.1% in ward 3 (2011 population: 17,865).

 

Though a mere 20km apart, the lives of this region’s suburban rich and urban poor are worlds apart.


Overall Poverty Rate (%):

 

2012

Saint John (CMA)

14.7

Saint John (City)

19.4

Ward 1

10.8

Ward 2

25.2

Ward 3

31.1

Ward 4

12

Quispamsis

6.2

Rothesay

8.7

Grand Bay-Westfield

6.6

 

 

Child Poverty Rate (%):

 

2012

Saint John (CMA)

22

Saint John (City)

30.4

Ward 1

17.2

Ward 2

40.1

Ward 3

47

Ward 4

18.8

Quispamsis

8

Rothesay

13.2

Grand Bay-Westfield

8.9

 

The great divide, as one could call it, is between Wards 2 and 3 and Wards 1 and 4. In the former, we see more lone parent families, older housing stock, a higher percentage of renters than homeowners, and a much lower voter turnout in the last municipal election. The HDC will examine these features more fully in the weeks ahead.

 

These numbers shock, but they also inform.

 

They make the case for adopting a poverty lens on public (and private) investments and choices.




Author - Randy Hatfield