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A <strong>STRONG</strong> <strong>ECONOMY</strong>

Quality of Life Subcommittee<br />

Dariel Bateman<br />

Beth Blowes<br />

Jeneane Fast<br />

Kehlar Hillyer<br />

Leah Kennedy<br />

Joelle Lamport-Lewis<br />

Barb Leavitt<br />

Robin Spence-Haffner<br />

Jennifer Rojas<br />

Nancy Summers<br />

Kathy Vassilakos<br />

Special thanks given to advisors<br />

from Huron Perth Public Health:<br />

Erica Clark, PhD<br />

Angela Willert<br />

The Social Research & Planning Council is funded by:<br />

City of Stratford, Town of St. Marys,<br />

County of Perth, through the Department of Social Services,<br />

the County of Huron and United Way Perth-Huron.<br />

Thank you to all the community partners who<br />

contributed to this project. We value your contribution.<br />

Social Research & Planning Council<br />

United Centre, 32 Erie St., Stratford, ON N5A 2M4<br />

Tel: 519-271-7730<br />

Email: srpc@perthhuron.unitedway.ca<br />


<strong>ECONOMY</strong><br />

Economic factors have a critical impact on quality of life.<br />

Employment is a significant contributor to overall quality of life.<br />

Together, income, financial security and employment directly<br />

impact one’s ability to afford essentials such as adequate housing,<br />

food, energy, internet and transportation. Emotional, physical and<br />

mental well-being is connected to access to these critical rights<br />

and factors.

INCOME<br />

Incomes in Perth-Huron are lower than<br />

provincial median<br />

Income has a significant impact on quality of life and is one<br />

of the most important social determinants of health. Living<br />

with low income can lead to incredible stress as low-income<br />

individuals and families try to get by while dealing with<br />

substandard housing, food insecurity, poor working conditions,<br />

unstable employment and discrimination. 1<br />

As of 2020, the median after-tax household income in Perth<br />

is $74,500 and $70,000 in Huron. By comparison, it is $79,500<br />

in Ontario. For one-person households, the median after-tax<br />

income is $37, 600 in Perth and $36,400 in Huron. It is $39,200 in<br />

Ontario. 2<br />

While low income is an indicator of living in poverty, it is not the<br />

same thing. Poverty is complex and can be described as not<br />

having enough money or access to resources to enjoy a decent<br />

standard of living. It extends beyond having enough income to<br />

afford only necessities — such as food or shelter — and is about<br />

exclusion. As such, poverty is difficult to define. In this report we<br />

refer to specific forms of poverty: energy poverty, food insecurity<br />

and housing poverty.<br />

Learn more about poverty. Visit Stats Canada’s Dimensions of<br />

Poverty Hub: www.statcan.gc.ca/en/topics-start/poverty<br />

2020 Median<br />

household<br />

income<br />

Perth<br />

$74,500<br />

Huron<br />

$70,000<br />

Ontario<br />

$79,500<br />

2020 Median<br />

one-person<br />

household<br />

income<br />

Perth<br />

$37,600<br />

Huron<br />

$36,400<br />

Ontario<br />

$39,200<br />

Page 4 A Strong Economy

In our region, 45% of residents over the age of 15 made<br />

less than a living wage as of 2020. According to Living<br />

Wage Canada, a living wage is the hourly wage every adult in a<br />

household needs to earn to cover basic expenses and participate<br />

in the community. In Ontario, a specific living wage is calculated<br />

for every region.<br />

The minimum wage is the lowest wage an employer can legally<br />

pay their staff. It is not based on a calculation of the cost of living,<br />

nor adjusted annually.<br />

The most recent living wage for Perth-Huron, released in<br />

November <strong>2023</strong>, is $22.75 per hour. As of October 1, <strong>2023</strong>, the<br />

Ontario minimum wage is $16.65 per hour and $15.60 for students.<br />

The gap between minimum wage and living wage in<br />

Perth-Huron is now over $6 per hour.<br />

45%*<br />

of residents over<br />

the age of 15 made<br />

less than a living<br />

wage as of 2020<br />

*Calculated with 2020 taxfiler data<br />

and based upon 2022 Living Wage<br />

Rate<br />

www.livingwage.ca<br />

Graph 1: <strong>2023</strong> Living Wage Breakdown; Perth-Huron<br />

Source: Ontario Living Wage Network<br />

*Figures represent an aggregation of three household types and a 35-hour work week<br />

A: Two working adults with two children<br />

B: One working adult with one child<br />

C: One working adult<br />

Page 5 A Strong Economy


Employers increase their rates of pay to a living wage and<br />

certify with the Ontario Living Wage Network.<br />

Employers currently paying a living wage ensure<br />

procurement policies and supply chain decisions reflect<br />

the local living wage.<br />

The provincial government raises the minimum wage to a<br />

living wage.

Women, racialized workers and new immigrants are<br />

disproportionately represented in the lowest paid worker bracket.<br />

The lowest paid workers are often more vulnerable and more likely to<br />

be precariously employed.<br />

The number of working poor in Canada is growing. In the Social<br />

Research & Planning Council’s recent report, Household Food<br />

Insecurity in Perth and Huron, more than 700 respondents reported<br />

being food insecure or at risk of food insecurity. Of the food insecure<br />

respondents, 64% had full-time employment.<br />

The following chart displays the difference in individual income<br />

between men and women based on data from the 2021 census. In<br />

both counties, women earned consistently less than men.<br />

Read Household Food<br />

Insecurity in Perth and Huron:<br />

perthhuron.unitedway.ca/<br />

research/<br />

Graph 2: Median total income in 2020<br />

Source: Statistics Canada<br />

$60,000<br />

$50,000<br />

$49,200<br />

$47,600<br />

Median Income is the value at<br />

which half the individuals earn<br />

below and half the individuals<br />

earn above.<br />

$40,000<br />

$37,600<br />

$35,600<br />

$30,000<br />

$20,000<br />

$10,000<br />

*Statistics Canada data for<br />

Perth-Huron does not reference<br />

transgender or non-binary<br />

identities. Instead, data is broken<br />

down by men+ (which includes<br />

men, boys and some non-binary<br />

persons) and women+ (which<br />

includes women, girls and some<br />

non-binary persons).<br />

$0<br />

Perth<br />

Huron<br />

Men<br />

Women<br />

Page 7 A Strong Economy

Graph 3: Projected median household income<br />

Source: Environics Canada<br />

$76,000<br />

$75,500<br />

$75,434<br />

$75,000<br />

$74,500<br />

$74,247<br />

$74,000<br />

$73,863<br />

$73,500<br />

$73,286<br />

$73,000<br />

2022 2025 2027 2032<br />


Employers in all sectors perform a salary<br />

audit to collect gender pay discrepancy data<br />

and address any pay inequities that emerge.

The Number of Low-Income Households<br />

Dropped Due to Federal Assistance Programs<br />

The LIM-AT is defined as half the median family income after tax<br />

and varies based upon family size. LIMs are the most frequently<br />

used measurement internationally, especially when making<br />

comparisons between countries. It is widely used because it<br />

is simple to measure, not necessarily because it is the best<br />

measure of poverty. 3<br />

20%<br />

18%<br />

16%<br />

14%<br />

12%<br />

10%<br />

Graph 4: Low-Income Population Based on LIM-AT by Age (%)<br />

Source: Statistics Canada<br />

8%<br />

6%<br />

4%<br />

2%<br />

0%<br />

Perth 2016 Perth 2021 Huron 2016 Huron 2021<br />

0-<strong>17</strong> 18-64 65+<br />

From 2016 to 2021, the number of youth ages zero to <strong>17</strong> living in lowincome<br />

households dropped considerably in Perth-Huron. This likely<br />

reflects the financial support provided by the Canada Child Benefit,<br />

introduced in 2016, which provides a significant increase for lowincome<br />

households as compared to the previous benefits system. 4<br />

The financial support provided through the Canada Emergency<br />

Response Benefit (CERB) to individuals 15 years or older who had<br />

earned $5,000 or more in the previous year and whose employment<br />

was affected by COVID-19 is another probable factor. Meanwhile, the<br />

number of individuals over 65 living in low-income households has<br />

increased slightly. 5<br />

Page 9 A Strong Economy

~19%<br />

of total income in<br />

our region came<br />

from government<br />

transfers in 2020<br />

Social Assistance Programs Supplement<br />

Incomes of Financially Insecure Households<br />

Government transfers cover a wide range of programs including<br />

Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age<br />

Security. In Perth, 18% of an individual’s total income comes<br />

from government transfers on average. In Huron it is 20%. In<br />

Ontario it is <strong>17</strong>%. 6<br />

Ontario Works (OW) provides money for food, shelter and<br />

other costs to people in financial need who are at least 16 and<br />

participate in employment activities. The Ontario Disability<br />

Support Program (ODSP) provides financial assistance and<br />

employment to people with disabilities. To receive ODSP, the<br />

individual must be 18 years old, be in financial need and meet<br />

the program’s definition of a person with a disability. Ontario<br />

increased the ODSP rate in July <strong>2023</strong>. However, the last Ontario<br />

Works increase was in 2018. While the number of OW cases has<br />

remained steady since 20<strong>17</strong> in Perth-Huron, ODSP caseloads<br />

increased between 2018 and 2020.<br />


The provincial government increases social assistance<br />

rates to the equivalent of a living wage so recipients<br />

can more adequately meet their basic needs, increase<br />

earnings exemptions and exemption rates and index<br />

rates to inflation.

Food Insecurity Impacts the Healthcare System<br />

Food insecurity means insecure access to food because of<br />

financial constraints. 7 The Social Research & Planning Council<br />

conducted a survey in November 2022 to better understand the<br />

nature and severity of household food insecurity regionally. More<br />

than 700 digital and paper surveys were analyzed. Findings of<br />

this survey revealed that 63% of respondents experienced food<br />

insecurity in the past year. Other findings can be seen in the<br />

charts below.<br />

Graph 5: Children and adults cut size of meals or skipped meals (past year)<br />

Source: SRPC Food Insecurity Survey<br />

Some months but not every month<br />

Only one or two months<br />

Almost every month<br />

0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35%<br />

Children<br />

Adults<br />

Graph 6: Does income meet everyday needs?<br />

Source: SRPC Food Insecurity Survey<br />

2%<br />

Prefer not<br />

to answer<br />

35%<br />

Meets most<br />

everyday needs<br />

24%<br />

Does not meet<br />

everyday needs<br />

39%<br />

Meets some of<br />

everyday needs<br />

Page <strong>11</strong> A Strong Economy

Of respondents, 87% said they had to sacrifice their household<br />

food budget to pay for other living expenses such as rent or<br />

mortgage, transportation and utilities. A reduced food budget<br />

results in a compromised quality and/or quantity of food. The<br />

SRPC survey validates the finding that poverty is the root<br />

cause of food insecurity. 8<br />

Graph 7: Mental health implications of inadequate food budget<br />

Source: SRPC Food Insecurity Survey<br />

Prefer not to answer<br />

None of the above<br />

Have suicidal thoughts<br />

Isolated<br />

Irritable/Angry<br />

Aggressive/Hyperactive<br />

Depressed/Frustrated/Powerless/Shame<br />

Anxious and stressed<br />

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%<br />

According to an Ontario study, kids in food insecure<br />

households are more likely to access healthcare for mental<br />

health and substance use. In other words, household food<br />

insecurity increases strain on the healthcare system. 9<br />

Page 12 A Strong Economy

In 2022, the cost of groceries for a family of four in Perth-Huron<br />

was $249 per week, or approximately $1,076 per month. A family of<br />

four relying on Ontario Works therefore needs to spend 39% of their<br />

income on food. Combined with the 52% of their income they must<br />

spend on rent, that leaves just 9%, or $261, each month for all other<br />

expenses. Households without children receive much less.<br />

For households earning minimum wage, working precarious jobs,<br />

receiving social assistance or living on a fixed income, it’s difficult<br />

to manage. The following table, taken from Huron Perth Public<br />

Health’s report The Real Cost of Eating in Huron and Perth 2022 * ,<br />

compares households receiving different social assistance benefits<br />

and how much money they have left after covering rent and food.<br />

Some benefits are not sufficient to cover even that. The table also<br />

shows the median Ontario income, highlighting the disparity with<br />

those who must survive on social assistance. 10 Maytree’s Welfare<br />

in Canada, 2022 report found that based on Toronto’s poverty line,<br />

social assistance rates in Ontario leave all family types living in<br />

deep poverty. Given that Perth-Huron’s living wage rate is only a<br />

couple of dollars less than Toronto’s, it is likely families would be<br />

living in deep poverty here as well. <strong>11</strong><br />

*Huron Perth Public Health<br />

surveys the average price of 61<br />

food items from multiple grocery<br />

stores across the region. These<br />

average prices are then used to<br />

calculate the cost of one week’s<br />

worth of groceries.<br />

Households with Child(ren)<br />

Households without Child(ren)<br />

Income Source<br />

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4 Scenario 5<br />

Ontario<br />

Works<br />

Median<br />

Ontario<br />

Income<br />

Ontario<br />

Works<br />

Income (After tax)<br />

ODSP<br />

Senior<br />

OAS/GIS<br />

Total Monthly Income $2,760 $9,323 $863 $1309 $1,885<br />

Expenses<br />

Housing $1,423 $1,423 $742 $1,258 $1,258<br />

Food $1,076 $1,076 $386 $386 $279<br />

Monthly Income Remaining for Other Expenses<br />

$261 $6,824 -$265 -$335 $348<br />

% Income Required for Rent 52% 15% 86% 96% 67%<br />

% Income Required for Food 39% 12% 45% 29% 15%<br />

Table 1: Income and expenses table<br />

Source: The Real Cost of Eating in Huron and Perth 2022<br />


All levels of government establish policies that support<br />

income-based solutions to food insecurity including a<br />

living wage and guaranteed income.<br />

Page 13 A Strong Economy


More of the Perth population is active in labour<br />

force, more men than women in labour force<br />

The labour force participation rate speaks to the proportion<br />

of the overall population over the age of 15 that is working or<br />

actively seeking work. In Perth, 66.3% of the population 15 and<br />

over is actively participating in the labour force. In this instance,<br />

a high participation rate and a low unemployment rate indicate<br />

a robust job market. However, the participation rates for men<br />

and women are significantly different. The participation rate for<br />

men is 72% and for women it is 60.8%. A similar trend is evident<br />

in Huron, with an overall participation rate of 60.9% but 66% for<br />

men and 55.9% for women. 12<br />

Historically, Perth-Huron — as part of the Stratford-Bruce<br />

Peninsula economic region — has one of the lowest<br />

unemployment rates in Ontario. The following graph displays<br />

the average unemployment rate in the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula<br />

region and Ontario over the past seven years. While the<br />

unemployment rate rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has<br />

since returned to pre-pandemic levels.<br />

Graph 8: Unemployment rate in Stratford-Bruce Peninsula and Ontario<br />

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, <strong>2023</strong>. Data has not been seasonally adjusted.<br />

10<br />

9<br />

8<br />

7<br />

Unemployment Rate (%)<br />

6<br />

5<br />

4<br />

3<br />

2<br />

1<br />

0<br />

2016 20<strong>17</strong> 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022<br />

Year<br />

Page 15 A Strong Economy<br />

Stratford-Bruce Peninsula<br />


1,636<br />

children on<br />

waitlist in Perth<br />

265<br />

children on<br />

waitlist in Huron<br />

The lack of early childhood<br />

educators has impacted the<br />

delivery of services in Perth-<br />

Huron. Licensed daycares,<br />

as well as multiple before<br />

and after school childcare<br />

programs ceased operating<br />

in mid-<strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Childcare Options Are in Short Supply<br />

While the workforce in Canada rebounded following the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic, reports indicate workforce gaps between<br />

men and women remain and childcare has been identified as<br />

a significant contributing factor. During the pandemic, more<br />

than 1.6 million women in Canada left the workforce. Women are<br />

more likely to work in sectors that were more directly impacted<br />

by COVID-19, such as education, childcare, service and tourism.<br />

The biggest decline in participation rates was for women who<br />

had school-aged children. Even among men, participation gaps<br />

exist for those with children and those without. The largest<br />

participation gap is 18.4% between men and women with<br />

children under the age of six. 13<br />

Among women who are not working, the main reasons they<br />

report being out of the workforce are personal and family<br />

responsibilities. Women working part-time reported that<br />

childcare was the biggest reason they could not work fulltime.<br />

14<br />

Huron 2019 2020 2021 2022<br />

Number of licensed childcare spaces 1,509 1,509 1,509 1,509<br />

Number of licensed private home childcare providers 21 14 12 13<br />

Number of children on the waitlist for licensed childcare 475 244 280 265<br />

Childcare fee subsidy (average per month) 475 350 180 239<br />

Table 2: Childcare spaces in Huron<br />

Source: Huron County<br />

Perth 2019 2020 2021 2022<br />

Number of licensed childcare spaces 1,989 2,030 2,078 2,094<br />

Number of licensed private home childcare providers 15 10 6 5<br />

Number of children on the waitlist for licensed childcare 814 1,034 1,166 1,636<br />

Childcare fee subsidy (average per month) 477 4<strong>17</strong> 384 379<br />

Table 3: Childcare spaces in Perth<br />

Source: City of Stratford<br />

Page 16 A Strong Economy

A Greater Percentage of People in Perth and<br />

Huron are Self-employed Compared to the<br />

Province<br />

Most workers in Perth and Huron work as employees, while close<br />

to one in five are self-employed. Compared to the province, this<br />

region has more self-employed people with 18% in Perth and 21%<br />

in Huron compared to 15% in Ontario. 15<br />

Graph 9: Self-employed workers in Perth and Huron<br />

Source: Statistics Canada<br />

HURON<br />

PERTH<br />

18% Self-employed 21%<br />

82% Employee<br />


The next chart displays labour force occupation by National<br />

Occupation Classification (NOC), Canada’s system for<br />

describing occupations. NOC codes help organize and explain<br />

job descriptions, educational requirements, skill requirements<br />

and related jobs. 16<br />

The top occupations in Perth and Huron are trades, transport,<br />

equipment operator and sales and service. In Perth, those<br />

fields are followed by business, finance and administration. In<br />

Huron, they are followed by natural resources and agriculture.<br />

Graph 10: Labour force occupation in Perth and Huron by National Occupational Classification*<br />

Source: Statistics Canada<br />

*This is not an exhaustive list<br />

Natural/Applied Sciences<br />

Health<br />

Education/Law/Social/Community & Gov. Services<br />

Natural Resources/Agriculture<br />

Manufacturing/Utilities<br />

Business/Finance/Administration<br />

Trades/Transport/Equipment Operators<br />

Sales/Service<br />

0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25%<br />

Huron Perth<br />

In both Perth and Huron the industries with the greatest number<br />

of businesses are agriculture, real estate and construction. <strong>17</strong><br />

Industry Perth Huron<br />

Agriculture 26% 35%<br />

Real Estate + Rental & Leasing 15% 16%<br />

Construction 9% 8%<br />

Retail Trade 7% 6%<br />

Table 4: Industries with the most businesses<br />

Source: 4 County Labour Market Planning Board<br />

Page 18 A Strong Economy


Small business and non-profits play an important<br />

role in rural well-being<br />

Perth and Huron have a large share of micro (one to four<br />

employees) and very small (five to nine employees) businesses<br />

— including non-profits — that contribute siginificantly to the<br />

economy. Huron has a very large proportion of small businesses,<br />

with only 0.02% of businesses having more than 100 employees.<br />

Additionally, 74% of businesses in Huron are classified as selfoperated.<br />

In Perth, 0.07% of businesses have more than 100<br />

employees and 70% of businesses are classified as self-operated. 18<br />

Small businesses also contribute to quality of life in many ways.<br />

They are reflective of the communities in which they operate and<br />

strengthen connections and relationships. Small businesses have<br />

a high rate of participation in community, purchasing goods and<br />

services from other local businesses, holding fundraisers and<br />

volunteering at local events. As of <strong>2023</strong>, 51% of business in Perth<br />

and 54% in Huron have one to four employees. 19<br />

The non-profit<br />

sector contributes<br />

7.9%<br />

to the Ontario’s GDP<br />

and employs<br />

844,000<br />

people<br />

77% of whom are<br />

women.<br />

Source: The Ontario Non-Profit<br />

Network<br />

Perth County small business trends<br />

Existing entrepreneurs — in business prior to<br />

2020 — are more likely to be interested in selling<br />

or reducing their services.<br />

Young entrepreneurs are the majority of new<br />

business owners.<br />

Trending industries include sustainable retail,<br />

micro-focused (single) food products, digital<br />

services and senior support services.<br />

Huron County small business trends<br />

The majority of existing businesses are in a stable<br />

position and expect to maintain size, with a<br />

moderate number wanting to expand.<br />

Mid- and late-career professionals are starting<br />

new businesses.<br />

Trending industries include small batch farming<br />

and small agri-food retailers, artisanal and craft<br />

businesses, specialty and gift retail.<br />

Table 5: Small business trends<br />

Source:Invest Stratford; Huron County Small Business and Entrepreneur Centre.<br />

Non-profits and private sector businesses experienced many<br />

changes due to COVID-19 restrictions and closures, exacerbating<br />

issues such as increased costs, workforce recruitment and<br />

retention and housing shortages. Many non-profits are using<br />

reserves to continue operations so the need for government<br />

funding remains high.<br />

Page 19 A Strong Economy


The federal government extends the interest-free<br />

full loan repayment period (i.e., the qualifying period<br />

for partial loan forgiveness) by at least one year, to<br />

December 31, 2024, for Canada Emergency Business<br />

Account (CEBA)* and Regional Relief and Recovery<br />

Fund (RRRF)** loans.<br />

All levels of government provide stable, long-term<br />

and flexible operational funding for non-profits that<br />

keeps pace with inflation and reflects the true costs of<br />

delivering programs and services.<br />

Provincial and municipal government increases funding<br />

and resources to support and encourage small business<br />

entrepreneurship.<br />

*The federal CEBA program offered interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to small<br />

businesses and non-profits.<br />

**The RRRF is part of the national COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to ease<br />

financial pressures caused by the pandemic. 25% was allocated for the tourism<br />


Location of Work is Varied<br />

During the pandemic, many businesses were forced to shut down<br />

in-person operations and began functioning remotely with many<br />

employees working from home. 20 In May 2020, roughly 37% of<br />

working Canadians were working from home . According to the<br />

2021 census, only 21% of people in Perth-Huron work at home<br />

in comparison to 30% in Ontario, although some people have a<br />

hybrid work situation. 21<br />

21%<br />

of people in<br />

Perth-Huron<br />

work at home<br />

Graph <strong>11</strong>: Location of work in Perth and Huron compared to Ontario<br />

Source: Statistics Canada<br />

Usual place of work<br />

No fixed place<br />

Worked at home<br />

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%<br />

Ontario<br />

Perth and Huron

employs<br />

4,200 people<br />

Most people in Ontario commute within the community they<br />

live. Perth’s numbers are similar to the province, but in Huron<br />

only 39% of workers commute within their municipality, 33%<br />

commute outside of their municipality but within their county<br />

and 28% commute outside of Huron. Length of commute is<br />

directly related to subjective quality of life, with longer commutes<br />

meaning less time spent with family and friends, less time spent<br />

on recreation and leisure and lower life satisfaction. 22<br />

Bruce Power is by far the largest employer in the Stratford-Bruce<br />

Peninsula region with over 4,200 employees, some of whom<br />

commute from Huron and Perth. There is a significant indirect<br />

economic impact on the region as thousands of people are<br />

indirectly employed by hundreds of companies providing goods<br />

and services to Bruce Power. 23<br />

Graph 12: Commuting for work<br />

Source: Statistics Canada<br />

Commute outside of county<br />

Commute outside of municipality<br />

(but within county)<br />

Commute within municipality<br />

0% 20% 40% 60% 80%<br />

Ontario Huron Perth<br />

Employees who fully or partially work from home may reduce the need for childcare, decrease<br />

GHG emissions and risk of traffic accidents by reducing the commute.<br />


Employers provide as much flexibility as feasible to<br />

accommodate the diverse needs of the workforce.<br />

According to a study conducted by researchers from the School of Environmental Design and Rural<br />

Development at the University of Guelph, average savings for rural telecommuters could range<br />

from $8,820 to $23,964 per year depending on the number of days telecommuted per week.<br />

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308596<strong>11</strong>8301046<br />

Page 22 A Strong Economy


Housing is a human right<br />

While it is often treated as a commodity, adequate housing is a<br />

human right according to Canadian and international law. This<br />

means every person has the right to secure housing without<br />

the fear of eviction or losing their home. People should also be<br />

able to live in a neighbourhood that aligns with their culture<br />

and where they have access to employment, schools and<br />

services. 24<br />

Rates of homeownership are higher in Perth and Huron<br />

than across the province. In Ontario, 68% of people own the<br />

home they live in and about 31% rent. In Perth, 72% of people<br />

own their home while 28% rent. In Huron, 78% of people own<br />

their home and 22% rent.<br />

Housing is generally considered “affordable” if all shelter<br />

costs amount to less than 30% of a household’s before-tax<br />

income. 25 Shelter costs include rent, mortgage payments and<br />

any necessary repairs. In our region, fewer homeowners than<br />

renters are living in unaffordable housing. In Perth, <strong>17</strong>% of<br />

homeowners spend more than 30% of their income on shelter<br />

costs while the number is 16% in Huron. By contrast, almost<br />

33% of renter households in Perth and 31% in Huron are<br />

spending 30% or more of their income on shelter costs.<br />

Subsidized housing refers to any housing subsidized in a<br />

variety of ways to make it financially accessible to low-income<br />

individuals and families. It includes rent-geared-to-income<br />

housing, co-op housing, social housing, public housing,<br />

government-assisted housing, non-profit housing and housing<br />

subsidized by rent supplements and housing allowances. 26 In<br />

Perth, 14% of tenants live in subsidized housing while 15% of<br />

tenants in Huron live in subsidized housing. 27 Waitlists for<br />

subsidized housing are long and, anecdotally, many<br />

individuals will have to wait as much as five years to<br />

move into housing.<br />

In Perth and Huron 14% of tenant households are in<br />

core housing need. This means their housing is some<br />

combination of unaffordable, inadequate and unsuitable<br />

and the median acceptable alternative housing would also be<br />

unaffordable. 28<br />

The number of people facing homelessness is on the<br />

rise with a <strong>17</strong>-person increase in Perth between 2018<br />

and 2021 and a dramatic 69-person increase in Huron.<br />

Graph 13: Rates of homeownership<br />

Source: Statistics Canada<br />


PERTH<br />

HURON<br />

68%<br />

32%<br />

72%<br />

28%<br />

78%<br />

22%<br />

Own<br />

Rent<br />

Own<br />

Rent<br />

Own<br />

Rent<br />

For the purposes of<br />

regulations, the Ontario<br />

government and the City of<br />

Stratford define an “affordable<br />

residential unit” as a unit<br />

which costs 80% or less of<br />

the average market rent or<br />

purchase price.<br />

Page 23 A Strong Economy

14%<br />

of Perth-Huron<br />

people are<br />

experiencing<br />

housing poverty<br />

129<br />

of people in Perth<br />

have identified<br />

as experiencing<br />

homelessness<br />

Both Huron County and the City of Stratford maintain a By Name List<br />

of people who are experiencing homelessness inPerth and Huron.<br />

The number of people fluctuates for a variety of reasons including<br />

securing housing, moving away, losing contact with housing support<br />

services, becoming ineligible for supports or passing away. On the<br />

other end, individuals may return to the By Name List because they<br />

moved back to the Perth region or became eligible, regained contact<br />

with services or are again experiencing homelessness. In Perth in the<br />

last 12 months, a median of 6.5 individuals per month were identified<br />

for the first time as experiencing homelessness. 29 In Huron, there<br />

was a gradual increase in the number of people on the By Name List<br />

between September 2022 and May <strong>2023</strong>, with no more than seven<br />

people coming on or off the list each month. Between May <strong>2023</strong><br />

and June <strong>2023</strong> there was an increase of 26 people. This increase<br />

was because of work done by partners such as employment centres<br />

and hospitals to connect with individuals experiencing chronic<br />

homelessness. 30<br />

In 2018 in Huron, the biggest reasons for homelessness were family<br />

conflicts, incarceration and an inability to pay rent or a mortgage.<br />

In 2021, however, the reasons for most people were family conflicts,<br />

abuse and illness, mental conditions or lack of income. In Perth, most<br />

people experiencing homelessness in 2018 stated it was because of<br />

relationship breakdown, addiction or substance abuse and unsafe<br />

housing conditions. In 2021, the main reasons were relationship and<br />

family issues, housing and financial issues and health and corrections<br />

31, 32<br />

issues.<br />

Some Causes of<br />

Homelessness<br />

Systemic Barriers<br />

Low income, inadequate<br />

supports for vulnerable<br />

populations<br />

Examples of Self-<br />

Identified Causes<br />

Incarceration, relationship<br />

breakdowns/divorce,<br />

unsafe housing conditions<br />

Some Exacerbating<br />

Factors<br />

Relationship Conflict<br />

Abuse, illness or<br />

mental health<br />

Lack of Housing<br />

Eviction, unaffordable<br />

housing, unsafe housing<br />

conditions<br />

Personal Challenge<br />

Relational, behavioural,<br />

emotional or physical<br />

Discrimination<br />

by race, gender, sexual<br />

orientation or ability<br />

Addiction<br />

or substance misuse

Graph 14: Number of people facing homelessness in Huron<br />

Source: Huron County, Housing Services<br />

100<br />

90<br />

84<br />

90<br />

83<br />

80<br />

70<br />

60<br />

50<br />

40<br />

42<br />

44<br />

37<br />

39<br />

48 49<br />

53<br />

57 58<br />

30<br />

20<br />

10<br />

0<br />

Graph 15: Number of people facing homelessness in Perth<br />

Source: City of Stratford<br />

180<br />

<strong>17</strong>0<br />

160<br />

140<br />

120<br />

100<br />

120<br />

102<br />

103<br />

87<br />

140<br />

129<br />

120<br />

80<br />

60<br />

40<br />

20<br />

0<br />

2019 2020 2021 2022<br />

Total Homeless<br />

Chronic Homeless<br />

Page 25 A Strong Economy

Graph 16: Number of people on the housing waitlist<br />

Source: City of Stratford, Huron County<br />

700<br />

650<br />

600<br />

550<br />

500<br />

450<br />

400<br />

350<br />

300<br />

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec<br />

Huron<br />

Perth<br />

*There is no Huron<br />

data for October and<br />

no Perth data for<br />

December.<br />

Housing market is tight<br />

Housing prices have been increasing for decades but<br />

jumped significantly after 2020, with a difference of almost<br />

$200,000 in the average price between 2020 and 2021.<br />

Graph <strong>17</strong>: Average price of houses sold in Huron-Perth<br />

Source: The Huron Perth Association of Realtors<br />

800<br />

700<br />

600<br />

Average Price (K)<br />

500<br />

400<br />

300<br />

200<br />

100<br />

0<br />

2013 2014 2015 2016 20<strong>17</strong> 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

Housing Spectrum<br />

Home<br />

Ownership<br />

Private Rental<br />

Affordable<br />

Rental &<br />

Ownership<br />

Public &<br />

Community<br />

Housing<br />

Supportive<br />

Housing<br />

Shelters/Crisis<br />

Accommodation<br />

Experiencing<br />

Homelessness<br />

Page 27 A Strong Economy

Page 28 Economics

Graph 18: Average price for one-bedroom rentals<br />

Source: City of Stratford<br />

$1,400<br />

$1,200<br />

$1,000<br />

$800<br />

$600<br />

$400<br />

$200<br />

$0<br />

20<strong>17</strong> 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022<br />

Stratford<br />

North Perth<br />

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Rental<br />

Market Survey collects rent rates, availability, vacancy and turnover<br />

data for urban areas with populations of 10,000 or more. These are<br />

used in setting government housing policies. The survey targets<br />

private structures that have been on the market for at least three<br />

months and have at least three rental units. While useful for urban<br />

areas such as the City or Stratford and North Perth (Listowel), data<br />

is not available for most areas in Perth and Huron.<br />

The Alternate Average Market Rent (AAMR) surveys to collect<br />

accurate data on current rental market prices from residential<br />

advertisements in areas not covered by the CMHC survey. While<br />

the CMHC survey includes both occupied and available rental<br />

units, the AAMR covers units that are available for rent, providing<br />

an accurate reflection of rental prices. The AAMR also covers<br />

structures with 1–2 units and is not restricted to structures with<br />

three or more units. Many units in both the Perth and Huron rental<br />

markets are owned by landowners with only one or two units.<br />

Having accurate rental housing data is important because it forms<br />

the basis of the housing benefit amount used for social assistance<br />

calculations and increases the possibility of recipients of housing<br />

allowances being able to afford rental units in the private market.<br />

Page 29 A Strong Economy

2020 AAMR<br />

from CMHC<br />

2021 Service<br />

Manager Area<br />

Rental Scan<br />

%<br />

Difference<br />

One bedroom $889 $1,253 41%<br />

Two bedrooms $1,034 $1,487 44%<br />

Three plus bedrooms $1,182 $1,894 60%<br />

Table 6: Comparison Between CMHC AAMRs and Local Rental Housing Costs<br />

City of Stratford. (2021). 2021-2 Request Alternate Average Market Rents Business Case.<br />

2022 AAMR<br />

from COHB*<br />

2022 Service<br />

Manager Area<br />

Rental Scan<br />

%<br />

Difference<br />

One bedroom $954 $1,345 41%<br />

Two bedrooms $1,144 $1,428 25%<br />

Three plus bedrooms $1,381 $1,800 30%<br />

Table 7: Comparison Between COHB AAMRs and Local Rental Housing Costs<br />

Huron County. (2022)<br />

*The CMHC does not<br />

collect rental data<br />

in Huron due to a<br />

small population size.<br />

Instead, the Canada-<br />

Ontario Housing<br />

Benefit (COHB) data<br />

is used for the Huron<br />

County comparison.<br />


The federal government and the Canadian Mortgage and<br />

Housing Corporation utilize an alternative methodology for the<br />

Rental Market Survey to collect data in rural areas that is both<br />

reliable and reflective of rural communities and their housing<br />


The following chart displays the Approved Alternate Market<br />

Rents (AAMR) in Perth for 2021. If a family makes the median<br />

after-tax income in Perth and Huron ($73,286 in 2022),<br />

29% of their income would go to rent if they were renting a<br />

two-bedroom rental based on the AAMR. For a one-person<br />

household, the median yearly after-tax income is $37,000.<br />

With this level, a one-bedroom rental would account for 46%<br />

of their income and a bachelor would account for 35% of<br />

their income.<br />

The<br />

median<br />

household<br />

earning $73,286<br />

spends 29%<br />

on rent<br />

Graph 19: Alternate Average Market Rent in Perth 2021<br />

Source: City of Stratford<br />

The median<br />

one-adult<br />

household<br />

earning $37,000<br />

spends 46%<br />

on rent<br />

Many factors play into this leap in prices. On the demand<br />

side, the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health<br />

measures increased demand for larger dwellings with more<br />

rooms, while remote work allowed city dwellers to relocate<br />

to smaller centres. Low interest rates and rising prices<br />

gave homeowners more equity to leverage for purchasing<br />

additional properties. 33 Rising prices also may have created<br />

a sense of urgency for new buyers, who didn’t want to miss<br />

out or get stuck. Others may have bought simply to flip<br />

properties in a hot market, or to convert downscale housing<br />

into upscale housing as an investment strategy. 34 Meanwhile,<br />

many potential buyers now find that homes are out of reach<br />

and they must stay in the rental market. 35 As a result the<br />

rental market is limited, with fewer units available overall.<br />

Simultaneously, immigration levels have increased to meet<br />

labour needs (including in construction), creating further<br />

demand for units.<br />

Dr. Andrew Boozary is a primary<br />

care physician and the Executive<br />

Director of Population Health and<br />

Social Medicine at the University<br />

Health Network (UHN) in Toronto.<br />

With the UHN, Dr. Boozary has<br />

been doing innovative work<br />

helping people experiencing<br />

homelessness. Along with a wider<br />

movement in Canada and the<br />

United States, they have launched<br />

a project to build and provide<br />

permanent housing for vulnerable<br />

populations. In addition to helping<br />

people facing homelessness, the<br />

project — built on what used to<br />

be a UHN parking lot — helps<br />

hospitals cut the costs of caring<br />

for homeless patients. According<br />

to Boozary, “The air you breathe,<br />

the job you have, the income<br />

and social connections you<br />

have, are a much larger driver of<br />

health outcomes than how many<br />

primary care visits or surgeries<br />

you get access to as a patient.”<br />

With this project, Boozary will be<br />

able to “prescribe” housing for<br />

those who need it most. 36

A<br />

In addition to its more positive<br />

elements, Bill 23 controversially<br />

opened certain Greenbelt lands<br />

to development. After a critical<br />

report form the Auditor General<br />

and significant public backlash,<br />

housing minister Steve Clark<br />

stepped down and Doug Ford<br />

vowed to return those lands to the<br />

Greenbelt.<br />

On the supply side, new housing has been severely constricted<br />

for many years by local land-use regulation and zoning rules. In<br />

many communities, it is simply against the rules to build many<br />

types of housing, particularly dense housing like apartment<br />

buildings, on most residential land. 37 Current regulation also<br />

empowers residents to block development, even if it is in the<br />

interest of the community. This means housing providers must<br />

often spend years navigating bureaucracy and facing down local<br />

opposition to deliver even small amounts of housing to market.<br />

This drives up development expenses which are ultimately<br />

passed on through higher prices. This is on top of the rising<br />

costs of raw materials and labour. 38<br />

Additionally, in the mid-nineties both the federal and provincial<br />

governments divested from new affordable, social and nonprofit<br />

housing. Social housing is now the responsibility of<br />

Ontario municipalities, who, of all levels of government, have the<br />

least capacity to fund it. While investments at the higher levels<br />

of government have increased in the past twenty years, for<br />

instance through the National Housing Strategy, many of these<br />

programs have been modest and the demand from affordable<br />

housing providers is incredibly high. 39<br />

The demand for housing has increased dramatically while<br />

supply of all kinds has been choked off. Wages are not<br />

keeping pace with the cost of housing and it has become<br />

unaffordable for many in our area. Fortunately, the province and<br />

local governments are taking steps to increase supply through<br />

initiatives such as Ontario’s Bill 23 A and the investStratford<br />

Attainable Market Housing Project. These are welcome steps<br />

but much more can be done.<br />


All levels of government collaborate with the private<br />

and non-profit sectors to incentivize and facilitate the<br />

development of affordable housing, particularly tailored to<br />

rural municipalities.<br />

The provincial government increases funding for<br />

municipalities and non-profits to expand access to and<br />

availability of supportive and transitional housing, as well<br />

as other emergency and long-term supports and services.<br />

Page 32 A Strong Economy

Energy Poverty is Higher in Rural Areas<br />

Households experience energy poverty when they face<br />

significant challenges in adequately meeting home energy<br />

needs, paying for home energy costs or affording other<br />

necessities because of energy costs. Energy poverty is<br />

often linked with household income because low-income<br />

households are more likely to live in lower-efficiency homes<br />

requiring more energy. Moderate-income households may<br />

also struggle because energy use increases with income.<br />

Households experiencing energy poverty are<br />

significantly more likely to suffer from poorer general<br />

and mental health. 40 Households in rural regions are<br />

more likely to experience energy poverty than households<br />

in urban areas. The possible reasons for this are a greater<br />

reliance upon electricity rather than natural gas to heat<br />

homes and water, higher transmission charges and overall<br />

41, 42<br />

larger home sizes in rural areas versus urban.<br />

Several municipalities within Perth-Huron are not serviced<br />

by natural gas. This means households are paying more<br />

to heat their homes and water, increasing the cost of<br />

living significantly. Additionally, there are competitive<br />

disadvantage for businesses. Portions of Ashfield-<br />

Colbourne-Wawanosh, Morris-Turnberry and Perth<br />

East do not yet have natural gas service. 43 The<br />

Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) offers<br />

emergency financial help for people who are behind on their<br />

electricity or natural gas bills and are faced with having their<br />

service disconnected. To qualify, household income must<br />

fall below a certain limit based on how many people live in<br />

the house and the total household income. 44 In Stratford,<br />

approximately 39% of households spend more than 6% of<br />

their income on energy costs, meaning they have a high to<br />

extreme home energy cost burden.<br />

6%<br />

Any household that spends<br />

more than 6% of after-tax<br />

income on home energy<br />

costs is considered to live in<br />

energy poverty.<br />

Citation Anon. 2019. Energy Poverty<br />

in Canada: A CUSP Backgrounder.<br />

The Ontario Energy Board<br />

estimates the average<br />

residential household uses<br />

750 kWh/month.<br />

Hydro One rural low-density<br />

customers used an average<br />

of 1,190 kWh/month.<br />

Citation Anon. 2019. Energy Poverty<br />

in Canada: A CUSP Backgrounder.<br />

More information about<br />

eligibility and the amount<br />

available here: Low-income<br />

Energy Assistance Program |<br />

Ontario Energy Board (oeb.ca)<br />


Governments and utility providers apply a human rights lens<br />

when providing utility services to rural customers, ensuring all<br />

customers have universal access to services and clean energy.<br />

The federal government allocates funds for low-income<br />

households to improve energy efficiency, move towards net-zero<br />

emissions targets and decrease energy poverty for vulnerable<br />

households.<br />

Page 33 A Strong Economy

Internet Access and Broadband<br />

Investment is Needed<br />

Internet access has become a necessity for nearly all of<br />

us. The internet enables access to information, education,<br />

healthcare and, increasingly, employment in remote and<br />

rural communities. 45 The following map displays internet<br />

access in Perth and Huron counties. Many municipalities<br />

have 91–100% coverage, meaning over 90% of the<br />

municipality has internet access. Howick ranks lowest in<br />

terms of broadband coverage in Perth-Huron, followed<br />

by Perth East. Municipal governments have made highspeed<br />

broadband internet access a priority and significant<br />

infrastructure investments have been or will be made. 46<br />

91-100%<br />

81-90%<br />

71-80%<br />

61-10%<br />

51-60%<br />

Page 35 A Strong Economy<br />

Map 1: Broadband coverage<br />

Source: Connected North

The following map displays broadband projects funded by the<br />

Province of Ontario. 47<br />

Planning<br />

Under<br />

Construction<br />

Complete<br />

Map 2: Broadband projects<br />

Source: Connected North<br />


Government and providers invest further in universal access to<br />

broadband and cellular service, ensuring all residents have the critical<br />

infrastructure to support their inclusion.

Transportation Issues Are Prevalent<br />

Transportation issues are prevalent in the rural parts of our<br />

region, making it difficult for residents to take advantage<br />

of opportunities that would be easily accessible in more<br />

densely populated centres. Employment, education, health<br />

appointments and social activities often involve travel across<br />

significant distances and therefore require reliable and<br />

affordable transportation options. When these are not available,<br />

people miss out on key opportunities, especially affecting<br />

people living on low-incomes and the elderly. While many<br />

services transitioned to online delivery because of COVID-19,<br />

this is still inaccessible for more isolated rural clients who do not<br />

have internet access.<br />

Non-profits and volunteers have filled the gap for some<br />

residents. For instance, ONE CARE’s EasyRide service provides<br />

transportation to seniors, people with disabilities and those in<br />

low-serviced areas.<br />

The City of Stratford operates a public transit system with<br />

seven routes and regular Monday–Friday service. On Saturdays<br />

and Sundays people can access an on-demand system.<br />

Stratford Transit also includes services for people with physical<br />

challenges. The City of Stratford has a transportation service<br />

called Parallel Transit, also known as the “Mobility Bus,” that<br />

provides transportation within the City of Stratford for physically<br />

challenged individuals who are unable to access Stratford<br />

Transit. 48<br />

Municipalities in Perth County have also collaborated on the PC<br />

Connect transit service, connecting communities within Perth<br />

County to each other and with Kitchener-Waterloo and London.<br />

GO Transit piloted service to Stratford and St. Marys on the<br />

London to Toronto route from October 2021 to October <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

During the two years of operation, there was a weekday<br />

commuter train to the GTA. VIA Rail also services Stratford daily<br />

on the Sarnia to Toronto line, but the once daily schedule is<br />

limiting.<br />

Due to the geographic size and sparse population<br />

of Perth-Huron, providing a sufficient transportation<br />

system is logistically and financially challenging. There<br />

are significant costs for individuals who must rely on taxis or<br />

charter services and these costs are particularly challenging<br />

for those living on restricted incomes. While strides have been<br />

made, transportation remains a barrier to quality of life for some<br />

in our rural region. Limited options for transportation make<br />

everyday activities such as grocery shopping and getting to<br />

appointments more complicated and costly, leading to social<br />


Table 8: PC Connect ridership (# of rides)<br />

Source: Perth County<br />

Funding Year 3<br />

Nov 2020–Mar 2021<br />

Funding Year 4<br />

Apr 2021–Mar 2022<br />

Funding Year 5<br />

Apr 2022–Mar <strong>2023</strong><br />

Funding Year 6 (partial)<br />

Apr <strong>2023</strong>–July <strong>2023</strong><br />

(in progress at time of writing)<br />

Route A<br />

Perth<br />

North<br />

Route B<br />

Perth<br />

South<br />

Transportation Within the Region<br />

PC Connect is a public transit service that offers<br />

transportation in Stratford, St. Marys, Perth County,<br />

London and Kitchener/Waterloo.<br />

Route 1<br />

KW to<br />

Listowel<br />

Route 2<br />

KW to St.<br />

Marys<br />

Route 3<br />

London to<br />

Stratford<br />

Totals<br />

342 87 55 186 94 764<br />

1,<strong>11</strong>6 578 872 978 1,127 4,671<br />

2,715 975 1,865 3,513 2,229 <strong>11</strong>,363<br />

1,324 621 1,390 1,675 1,253 6,263<br />

Totals 5,498 2,261 4,182 6,343 4,773 23,055<br />

Map 3: Perth County transit routes through the PC Connect service<br />

Source: perthcounty.ca<br />

Page 38 A Strong Economy

Map 4: Huron County transit routes through the Huron Shores Area Transit<br />

Source: huronshoresareatransit.ca<br />


Governments, community members and businesses<br />

explore alternatives to a fixed route transit system to meet<br />

transportation needs of the public, students, seniors and the<br />

workforce.<br />

Page 39 A Strong Economy


*The following data is from RTO4 for the Huron, Perth, Waterloo<br />

and Wellington region<br />

In 2019, over 10 million people visited the region. Most<br />

of these visitors were from Ontario, with about 154,000 from<br />

other provinces or territories and about <strong>11</strong>7,000 from outside<br />

of Canada. Most of these visitors did not stay overnight,<br />

with approximately 80% of visitors only staying one day.<br />

A little over 20% of visitors traveled for pleasure and 10%<br />

traveled for business. Other reasons for travel included<br />

visiting friends and family, shopping and attending festivals<br />

and events. The most popular accommodation types were<br />

private homes or cottages and hotels and motels. The most<br />

common activities visitors participated in were seeing<br />

friends or relatives, shopping, going to restaurants or bars<br />

and outdoor sports or activities. Over 30% of visitors<br />

were under the age of 35.<br />

The following table displays hotel statistics in the region<br />

from 2016 to 2020.<br />

2016 20<strong>17</strong> 2018 2019 2020<br />

Occupancy Rate 60.5% 60.3% 63.8% 63.9% 33.0%<br />

Average Daily Rate $<strong>11</strong>3.71 $<strong>11</strong>7.<strong>17</strong> $128.38 $131.84 $107.26<br />

Revenue per Available Room $68.77 $70.68 $81.89 $84.30 $35.35<br />

Table 9: Hotel statistics<br />

Source: Regional Toursim Organization 4<br />

*The following data is Huron specific from their visitor survey<br />

In 2022, Huron County Economic Development surveyed 609<br />

Ontario residents who visited Huron for business, pleasure<br />

or a personal trip in the past year. Goderich was the most<br />

visited with 51% of respondents visiting, followed by Bayfield<br />

with 25% and Port Albert and Clinton with 14% each. Of<br />

the 94% of respondents who visited as a personal trip,<br />

49% indicated their primary reason was visiting the beach/<br />

lakeshore. More than half (55%) of respondents stayed<br />

overnight, staying an average of two nights with 40% staying<br />

in a hotel or motel. About 20% stayed in a private home and<br />

roughly 20% stayed at an Airbnb or vacation rental. The<br />

following table displays the average amount spent by visitors<br />

during their stay, who completed the survey.<br />

Page 41 A Strong Economy

Amount Spent<br />

Accommodation $396<br />

Recreation and Entertainment $168<br />

Transportation $204<br />

Food and Beverage $210<br />

Shopping $157<br />

Total $1, 135<br />

Table 10: Amount spent by tourists in Huron County<br />

Source: Huron County<br />


Municipal governments consider introducing a<br />

Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) to offset other<br />

budgetary items.<br />

The MAT is sometimes known as a hotel or lodging<br />

tax. It supplements municipal funds for tourism<br />

with revenues raised from visitors. The revenue<br />

generated by a MAT could offset other budget items,<br />

allowing municipalities to designate that money to<br />

priority projects such as affordable housing.

Local Theatres Contribute Significantly<br />

to the Local Economy<br />

While the COVID-19 crisis disrupted many areas of the<br />

economy, certain sectors were particularly affected including<br />

accommodation, food services, arts, entertainment, recreation<br />

and retail. Due to their nature, these sectors were affected more<br />

dramatically than others by public health measures to limit<br />

COVID-19 transmission and changes in consumer behaviour.<br />

Throughout 2020–2022, many consumers were hesitant to<br />

patronize businesses even when they were able to open or<br />

remain open. A survey by Statistics Canada from 2022 found<br />

that 63% of people in Perth and Huron avoided large gatherings<br />

and crowds and 30% avoided leaving the house at all except for<br />

essential errands.<br />

Local theatres are an important part of our cultural landscape<br />

and tourism economies and were hit hard by the pandemic;<br />

having to close entirely for one or more years and operate with<br />

reduced capacities. Theatres like the Stratford Festival and the<br />

Blyth Festival showed great ingenuity in adapting with outdoor<br />

performance spaces, while the Huron County Playhouse offered<br />

weekly mask-only performances. Now, they are doing the<br />

challenging work of rebuilding capacity, with steady progress as<br />

audiences reconnect with greater confidence.

The Blyth Festival is one of Canada’s only theatre companies<br />

producing exclusively Canadian content. Prior to 2020, the<br />

Festival’s box office sales were steadily increasing, reaching<br />

over 23,000 visitors for five plays. Prior to the COVID-19<br />

pandemic, the Blyth Festival was able to accommodate an<br />

indoor capacity of 373 seats for each performance in 2018<br />

and 2019. In 2020, the season was cancelled due to COVID-19<br />

restrictions. Upon reopening in 2021, the Festival pivoted<br />

to using an outdoor theatre that could only accommodate<br />

95 seats per performance, a big drop from pre-pandemic<br />

capacity. Due to US border restrictions, there were no out-ofcountry<br />

ticket sales. In 2022, the Festival continued to rebuild<br />

its capacity, selling up to 150 tickets per performance.<br />

The Stratford Festival is a major driver of Stratford’s tourism<br />

economy, both as an employer and through generating<br />

significant business for restaurants, stores and other local<br />

attractions. After cancelling the entire 2020 season, the<br />

Festival returned in 2021 with dramatically restricted capacity<br />

in two outdoor “canopy” venues. In the 2022 season, the<br />

Festival made major strides in rebuilding its pre-pandemic<br />

audience with attendance up almost tenfold from 2021, an<br />

estimated economic impact of $87.9 million on the area. 49<br />

The Huron Country Playhouse had pre-COVID attendance of<br />

73,343 people in one year. In 2020 and 2021, the theatre was<br />

closed entirely. When it reopened in 2022 attendance reached<br />

32,612 (65% of the total capacity). Due to the ongoing recovery<br />

from the pandemic, the Playhouse mounted fewer productions<br />

and thus made fewer seats available. In <strong>2023</strong>, attendance is<br />

predicted to be over 50,000 for the season, 75% of the total<br />

capacity and 75% of pre-COVID-19 attendance.<br />


The provincial government makes the Ontario<br />

Staycation Tax Credit an annual offering, providing<br />

economic support to the tourism and hospitality<br />

sector.<br />

The Ontario Staycation Tax Credit allowed Ontario<br />

residents to claim 20% of their Ontario accommodation<br />

expenses on their personal income tax and benefit return.<br />

Page 44 A Strong Economy

Recommendation<br />

Individual &<br />

Community<br />

Businesses &<br />

Organization<br />

Municipal<br />

Gov.<br />

Provincial<br />

/Federal<br />

Gov.<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3<br />

4<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

10<br />

Employers increase their rates of pay to a living wage<br />

and certify with the Ontario Living Wage Network.<br />

(p.6)<br />

Employers currently paying a living wage ensure<br />

procurement policies and supply chain decisions<br />

reflect the local living wage. (p.6)<br />

The provincial government raises the minimum wage<br />

to a living wage. (p.6)<br />

Employers in all sectors perform both a salary audit<br />

to collect gender pay discrepancy data and address<br />

any pay inequities that emerge. (p.8)<br />

The provincial government increases social<br />

assistance rates to the equivalent of a living wage<br />

so recipients can more adequately meet their basic<br />

needs, increase earnings exemptions and exemption<br />

rates for recipients and index rates to inflation. (p.10)<br />

All levels of government establish policies that<br />

support income-based solutions to food insecurity<br />

including a living wage and guaranteed income.<br />

(p.13)<br />

Provincial and municipal government increases<br />

funding and resources to support and encourage<br />

small business entrepreneurship. (p.20)<br />

The federal government extends the interest-free<br />

full loan repayment period (i.e., the qualifying period<br />

for partial loan forgiveness) by at least one year, to<br />

December 31, 2024, for Canada Emergency Business<br />

Account (CEBA) and Regional Relief and Recovery<br />

Fund (RRRF) loans. (p.20)<br />

All levels of government provide stable, long-term<br />

and flexible operational funding for nonprofits that<br />

keeps pace with inflation and reflects the true costs<br />

of delivering programs and services. (p.20)<br />

Employers provide as much flexibility as feasible to<br />

accommodate the diverse needs of the workforce.<br />

(p.22)<br />

Page 45 A Strong Economy

Recommendation<br />

Individual &<br />

Community<br />

Businesses &<br />

Organization<br />

Municipal<br />

Gov.<br />

Provincial<br />

/Federal<br />

Gov.<br />

<strong>11</strong><br />

12<br />

13<br />

14<br />

15<br />

16<br />

<strong>17</strong><br />

18<br />

19<br />

The federal government and the Canadian Mortgage<br />

and Housing Corporation utilize an alternative<br />

methodology for the Rental Market Survey to collect<br />

data in rural areas that is both reliable and reflective<br />

of rural communities and their housing markets.<br />

(p.30)<br />

All levels of government collaborate with the private<br />

and non-profit sectors to incentivize and facilitate<br />

the development of affordable housing, particularly<br />

tailored to rural municipalities. (p.32)<br />

The provincial government increases funding for<br />

municipalities and non-profits to expand access<br />

to and availability of supportive and transitional<br />

housing, as well as other emergency and long-term<br />

supports and services. (p.32)<br />

Governments and utility providers apply a human<br />

rights lens when providing utility services to rural<br />

customers, ensuring all customers have universal<br />

access to services and clean energy. (p.33)<br />

The federal government allocates funds for lowincome<br />

households to improve energy efficiency,<br />

move towards net-zero emissions targets and<br />

decrease energy poverty for vulnerable households.<br />

(p.33)<br />

Government and providers invest further in universal<br />

access to broadband and cellular service, ensuring<br />

all residents have the critical infrastructure to support<br />

their inclusion. (p.35)<br />

Governments, community members and businesses<br />

explore alternatives to a fixed route transit system to<br />

meet transportation needs. (p.39)<br />

Municipal governments consider introducing a<br />

Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) to offset other<br />

budgetary items. (p.42)<br />

The provincial government makes the Ontario<br />

Staycation Tax Credit an annual offering, providing<br />

economic support to the tourism and hospitality<br />

sector. (p.44)<br />

Page 46 A Strong Economy

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<strong>17</strong> Four County Labour Market Planning Board. (2021, October). Business counts - four county<br />

labour market planning board. https://www.planningboard.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/<br />

Business-Counts-Report-OCT-2021-FINAL.pdf<br />

18 Four County Labour Market Planning Board. (2021, October). Business counts - four county<br />

labour market planning board. https://www.planningboard.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/<br />

Business-Counts-Report-OCT-2021-FINAL.pdf<br />

19 Raw data obtained from 5 County Labour Market Planning Board<br />

20 Clarke, S., & Hardy, V. (2022, August 24). Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic:<br />

How rates in Canada and the United States compare.<br />

https://doi.org/10.25318/36280001202200800001-eng<br />

21 Statistics Canada. <strong>2023</strong>. (table). Census Profile. 2021 Census of Population. Statistics Canada<br />

Catalogue no. 98-316-X2021001. Ottawa. Released March 29, <strong>2023</strong>. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/<br />

census-recensement/2021/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E (accessed September 5, <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

22 Han, L., Peng, C., & Xu, Z. (2022). The effect of commuting time on quality of life: Evidence from<br />

China. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(1), 573.<br />

https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010573<br />

23 Bruce Power. (<strong>2023</strong>, June 1). Bruce Power’s Mid-Term Update. https://www.brucepower.com/<br />

wp-content/uploads/<strong>2023</strong>/08/230035A-CNSC-Mid-term-Report_R002_Accessible_AX.pdf<br />

24 United Nations. (n.d.). The human right to adequate housing. OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/<br />

en/special-procedures/sr-housing/human-right-adequate-housing<br />

25 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (2018, March 31). About Affordable<br />

Housing in Canada. https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/professionals/industry-innovation-andleadership/industry-expertise/affordable-housing/about-affordable-housing/affordablehousing-in-canada#:~:text=What%20is%20affordable%20housing%3F,a%20household%27s%20<br />

before%2Dtax%20income.<br />

26 Statistics Canada. (2016, January 4). Subsidized housing. National Household Survey (NHS)<br />

Dictionary. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/20<strong>11</strong>/ref/dict/dwelling-logements0<strong>17</strong>-eng.cfm<br />

27 Statistics Canada. <strong>2023</strong>. (table). Census Profile. 2021 Census of Population. Statistics Canada<br />

Catalogue no. 98-316-X2021001. Ottawa. Released March 29, <strong>2023</strong>. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/<br />

census-recensement/2021/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E (accessed September 5, <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

28 City of Stratford<br />

29 County of Huron, Housing Services<br />

30 Heisel, D., & Randle, J. (2022, September 21). Core Housing Need in Canada. Statistics Canada.<br />

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/<strong>11</strong>-627-m/<strong>11</strong>-627-m2022056-eng.htm<br />

31 2018 Homeless Enumeration Report for Stratford, Perth County and St Marys<br />

32 2018 Homeless Enumeration for Huron County<br />

33 Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative. (<strong>2023</strong>). IUHF Journal Summer <strong>2023</strong><br />

34 WOWA (n.d.) Understanding the BRRRR Method in Canada.<br />

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35 Cyca, M. (<strong>2023</strong>, June 5). The End of Homeownership. Macleans Canada.<br />

https://macleans.ca/longforms/the-end-of-homeownership/<br />

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36 Rosalsky, G. (<strong>2023</strong>, February 7). This doctor wants to prescribe a cure for homelessness. NPR.<br />

https://files.ontario.ca/mmah-housing-affordability-task-force-report-en-2022-02-07-v2.pdf<br />

37 City of Stratford, Transit<br />

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Force. https://files.ontario.ca/mmah-housing-affordability-task-force-report-en-2022-02-07-v2.pdf<br />

39 Deng, A., Leviten-Reid, C., & Thériault, L. (<strong>2023</strong>a). Can they build or not? nonprofit housing<br />

development in an ERA of government re-engagement. Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social<br />

Economy Research, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.29<strong>17</strong>3/cjnser586<br />

40 Riva, M., Kingunza Makasi, S., O’Sullivan, K.C. et al. Energy poverty: an overlooked determinant<br />

of health and climate resilience in Canada. Can J Public Health <strong>11</strong>4, 422–431 (<strong>2023</strong>).<br />

https://doi.org/10.<strong>17</strong>269/s41997-023-00741-0<br />

41 Alleckna, M. (2019, November 27). Energy poverty in Canada: How each province performs.<br />

EnergyRates.ca. https://energyrates.ca/energy-poverty-in-canada-how-each-province-performs/<br />

42 Energy Rates (n.d.). Energy Poverty in Canada: How Each Province Performs.<br />

https://energyrates.ca/energy-poverty-in-canada-how-each-province-performs/<br />

43 Ontario Energy Board. (2020, October 30). Report to the Minister of Energy, Northern<br />

Development and Mines and to the Associate Minister of Energy. https://www.oeb.ca/sites/default/<br />

files/OEB-Natural-Gas-Expansion-Report-to-Ministers-20201030.pdf<br />

44 Ontario Energy Board. (n.d.). Bill assistance programs. https://www.oeb.ca/consumerinformation-and-protection/bill-assistance-programs<br />

https://www.oeb.ca/consumer-information-andprotection/bill-assistance-programs/low-income-energy-assistance-program<br />

45 University of Birmingham. (<strong>2023</strong>, April 7). Internet access must become human right or we<br />

risk ever-widening inequality. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/<strong>2023</strong>/04/230407094243.<br />

htm#:~:text=Internet%20access%20must%20become%20human%20right%20or%20we%20risk%20<br />

ever%2Dwidening%20inequality,-Date%3A%20April%207&text=Summary%3A,right%2C%20a%20<br />

new%20study%20reveals.<br />

46 Connected north (n.d.) Ontario Broadband Information<br />

47 Connected north (n.d.) Ontario Broadband Information<br />

46 City of Stratford, Transit<br />

49 Stratford Festival. (<strong>2023</strong>, April 1).<br />

https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/Media/NewsReleases/<strong>2023</strong>-04-01/<br />

About the SRPC<br />

The Social Research & Planning Council (SRPC), operated by United Way Perth-<br />

Huron, is comprised of community representatives who are dedicated to the collection,<br />

analysis and distribution of information relating to social trends and issues in Perth and<br />

Huron Counties. The SRPC approaches its work in two ways:<br />

1. Commissioning research into specific social issues.<br />

2. Developing recommendations for community improvement based on local findings<br />

and working collaboratively with community members to implement change.

Additional Resources<br />

How Much is Enough? The Impact of Low Incomes on Households and Communities in Perth-Huron: https://<br />

perthhuron.unitedway.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019-09-05-How-Much-is-Enough-Website-version-<br />

FINAL.pdf<br />

Statistics Canada Dimensions of Poverty Hub: https://www.statcan.gc.ca/en/topics-start/poverty<br />

Living Wage in Perth-Huron: https://perthhuron.unitedway.ca/research/living-wage/<br />

Household Food Insecurity in Perth-Huron <strong>2023</strong>-06-22-Food-Security-Report-UPDATE.pdf (unitedway.ca)<br />

The Real Cost of Eating Huron and Perth 2022: https://www.hpph.ca/en/partners-and-professionals/resources/<br />

Documents/REPORT_Cost-of-eating-in-HP_Oct-2022.pdf<br />

Four County Labour Market Planning Board’s Precarious Living Study:<br />

https://www.planningboard.ca/reports/precariouslivingstudy/<br />

Ontario Nonprofit Network’s 2022 State of the Sector:<br />

https://theonn.ca/publication/2022-state-of-the-sector-policy-report/<br />

Huron County Business Retention & Expansion Project<br />

Social Research & Planning Council’s Supportive Housing Report:<br />

https://perthhuron.unitedway.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-Supportive-Housing-Report.pdf<br />

Stratford, Perth County and St. Marys Housing and Homelessness Plan: https://www.stratford.ca/en/inside-cityhall/resources/Social_Services/Housing/HHP-AR-2020-Summary.ACC.pdf<br />

Huron County Housing and Homelessness 2021 Annual Report: https://www.huroncounty.ca/wp-content/<br />

uploads/2022/07/2021-Housing-and-Homelessness-report.pdf<br />

City of Stratford Transportation Master Plan Draft Report: https://engagestratford.ca/transportation-master-plan<br />

Municipal Accommodation Tax White Paper: https://perthhuron.unitedway.ca/research/


Areeba Ahmad<br />

Kristin Crane<br />

Will Wellington<br />


Chad Alberico<br />

DESIGN<br />

Sonya Heyen<br />



Fred Gonder<br />

Copyright © The Social Research & Planning<br />

Council <strong>2023</strong>. This work is copyrighted. It<br />

may be reproduced in whole or in part for<br />

educational use subject to the inclusion of an<br />

acknowledgement of the source.<br />

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