Saskatoon’s west side core neighbourhoods experience a concentration of poverty and underdevelopment. Almost every benchmark concerning human development—such as economic growth, health, education, and standards of living show significant disparities between the core neighbourhoods and all of Saskatoon. These are the disparities that Quint has been working to address since it was formed 25 years ago and we will highlights these efforts in subsequent blog posts.
This paper shows some of the disparities in key socioeconomic benchmarks of human development.
Core Neighbourhoods Demographics
The population of Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods is 16,395 (5,815 households). This represents 6% of Saskatoon’s population.
The core neighbourhoods have become home to, higher proportions of rental accommodation and absentee landlords, an aging housing stock, many vacant houses.
Average house prices are an indicator of the size and quality of the housing stock in Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods compared to the rest of Saskatoon. The average house price in the core is $149k (43%) lower than the average house price in Saskatoon. Compared to Saskatoon, the housing stock in the core neighbourhoods is older, smaller and in need of more repairs.
Eleven percent of houses in the core neighbourhoods (645 houses) are in need of major repairs compared to 4.7% for all of Saskatoon. Living in housing that is in need of major repairs (substandard) is one of the factors of core housing need (the other two are affordability and adequacy or suitability (overcrowding, accessible and safe).
Homeownership highlights the number of owner-occupied homes compared to rentals. The average homeownership rate in Saskatoon is about 67% meaning about 33% of housing is rental. Pleasant Hill is virtually opposite this with 31% homeownership and 69% rental. This has significant implications on the quality and type of housing in the area and on the transiency and mobility of the residents.
Core Housing Need
Core housing need happens when:
- major repairs are required and residents don’t have the means to move to a good unit in their community
- there are not enough bedrooms for the residents, and they don’t have the means to move
- the current home costs more than the residents can afford, and they do not have the means to make a move or find an available affordable home in their community
Over the past ten years, the percentage of households in Saskatoon that are in core housing need has increased. This is the result of rents continuing to rise faster than incomes. Given that both income levels are significantly lower and that houses in need of major repairs are significantly higher in the core neighbourhoods, it is highly likely that households in core housing need in the core are even higher than that of Saskatoon.
Education, Employment and Income Disparities
The core neighbourhoods have lower income levels, higher unemployment and subsequently greater numbers of families on social assistance compared to all of Saskatoon.
The median total personal income in the core is about 30% lower than Saskatoon’s median and in Pleasant Hill the median person income is over 46% lower.
(The labour force participation rates is the number of persons who are employed and unemployed but looking for a job divided by the total working-age population.)
Labour force participation rates in the core are 13% lower compared to all of Saskatoon.
Economic Dependency Ratio
Economic Dependency Ratio is the sum of transfer payment dollars received as benefits in a given area, compared to every $100 of employment income for that same area. This ratio provides an indicator of the neighbourhood’s reliance on government transfers as opposed to employment income.
All of the core neighbourhoods have a higher economic dependency ratio than the average for all of Saskatoon but the ratio in Pleasant Hill is very high at 75%. This means that $75 in government transfers (EI, Pension income assistance, etc.) were received for every $100 of employment income for the area. This is almost 5 times higher than the ratio for Saskatoon. The ratio in Riversdale is 34%, which is more than double Saskatoon’s ratio.
No Certificate / Diploma / Degree
The percentage of individuals with no certificate/diploma/degree in the core is 61% higher than for all of Saskatoon. Lower education and training levels have significant implications on employment and income levels.
The Health Disparities in Saskatoon report conducted by the Saskatoon Health Region in 2006 compared the health status of residents within Saskatoon’s six lowest income neighbourhoods to the rest of the city and found substantial disparities in:
- suicide attempts,
- mental disorders,
- injuries and poisonings,
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder,
- coronary heart disease,
- hepatitis C,
- teen births,
- low birth weights,
- infant mortality and
- all cause mortality
Since our beginning in 1995, Quint has been developing innovative housing and employment programs and social enterprises with the goal of reducing these stark disparities and to create stronger and more vibrant west side core neighbourhoods. And while we are doing this, we are also challenging the status quo by creating a roadmap for a more socially just and sustainable economy.