Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

October 15, 2005 12:12 ET

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Atlantic Provinces Rural Profiles Unveiled

TWILLINGATE, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 15, 2005) - Just under 45 percent of Atlantic Canadians reside in rural areas. How do their economic, educational, social and health care situations differ from their urban counterparts and from one rural area to another? A series of new reports examines the trends in both rural and urban areas across Atlantic Canada.

"The Government of Canada recognizes that in order for the country to reach its full potential, both urban and rural areas need to be strong," said the Honourable Wayne Easter, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food with special emphasis on Rural Development. "When we studied the Statistics Canada Census data we could see that urban areas clearly influence rural areas. Governments need to understand these kinds of relationships in order to develop programs, services and activities that will be truly helpful for rural areas."

The study found some interesting numbers in each province. Newfoundland and Labrador is very different than any other province in Canada as the majority of its residents call rural areas their home. In Nova Scotia, rural residents are more likely to be self employed than their urban neighbours. French is twice as likely to be spoken in the homes of rural New Brunswick residents compared to the province's urban areas. Prince Edward Island leads the nation in retaining its rural population.

A Statistics Canada research method divides the rural Atlantic provinces into four categories of rural, depending on how strongly they are economically and socially influenced by urban areas. The four categories are called Strong Metropolitan Influenced Zone (MIZ), Moderate MIZ, Weak MIZ and No MIZ, corresponding too strongly, moderately, weakly and not influenced by urban centres. Strong MIZ zones typically stood out as being most similar to the more advantaged urban centres.

The authors of this report looked at Statistics Canada Census data from 1991, 1996 and 2001 to examine 20 indicators that reflect conditions in different areas. They found there was often greater variation between the four types of rural than between rural and urban.

The four rural profiles are part of 14 profiles being developed-one for every province and territory in Canada, and one for the country as a whole. The summaries of the reports were released at the Big Lessons from Small Places Forum, in Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador on October 15, 2005.

The analysis was carried out by the Canadian Rural Partnership's Rural Secretariat with the participation of Statistics Canada. The Rural Secretariat is a part of the Government of Canada that focuses on rural issues. You can find more information on the Canadian Rural Partnership and the Rural Secretariat at http://www.rural.gc.ca.

(Atlantic Provinces Rural Profiles Unveiled)


Executive Summary

Introduction

The Government of Canada's Rural Secretariat initiated this report to advance its goal in improving government and citizen understanding of rural conditions in New Brunswick. This report benchmarks major socio-economic structures and trends regarding rural areas. The overall objective is to help improve policy with respect to the economic and social conditions found in rural New Brunswick.

Research Methods

Two major classification systems form the core analysis in this report. First, the Metropolitan Influenced Zone (MIZ) system, developed by McNiven et al. (2000), is utilized to make distinctions within rural and small town New Brunswick. The four MIZ categories are Strong, Moderate, Weak, and No MIZ, with each reflecting progressively greater rurality. Second, a basic comparison between urban centres and rural/small town zones is also presented to capture overall differences between the two sectors of the province. In total, 20 indicators from Statistics Canada's 2001, 1996, and 1991 Censuses of Population have been calculated and analyzed for each of four degrees of rurality, for rural and small town New Brunswick as a whole, and for its urban centres.

MAJOR FINDINGS

Population Indicators

In 2001, rural and small town residents comprised nearly one-half (47.7%) of the total New Brunswick population. Moderate and Weak MIZ zones were the most heavily populated of rural zones, comprising 20.0% and 18.6% of the 2001 provincial population, respectively. Between 1996 and 2001, the provincial population declined by 1.2%. While urban New Brunswick experienced a slight increase in population (0.3%), the rural and small town population declined by 2.7% with losses of 3.5, 2.9 and 1.6% in Moderate, Weak and Strong MIZ zones, respectively. Only No MIZ zones, which comprised the smallest share of the provincial population in each census year, had a larger population in 2001 than in 1996 (3.0%).

Though New Brunswick's rural population comprises a much larger share of the total population than is the case Canada wide (47.7% compared to 20.6%), the province experienced a more substantial decline in its rural population after 1996 (of 2.7% compared to a 0.4% decline in the nation's rural population).

Compared to urban New Brunswick, rural and small town zones have a more polarized age structure, with slightly higher proportions falling within the lowest (children) and highest (seniors) age categories. Between 1991 and 2001, rural and small town populations aged more rapidly than did the province's urban population, though the No MIZ population aged the least rapidly in the province.

The share of the population that is Aboriginal increases as level of urban integration declines. Aboriginal representation increased in every geographic zone between 1996 and 2001, with the greatest increase occurring in No MIZ zones (of 3.8%).

Economic, Education, Social and Health Care Indicators

Most of the results illustrate a great deal of variation in the economic, education, social, and health care situations within rural and small town New Brunswick. While differences between the urban and rural populations are apparent, there is often greater variation among the four MIZ categories. Strong MIZ zones typically stand out as the most advantaged, while No MIZ zones consistently rank among the least advantaged zones in the province.

The use of three consecutive census years permits a review of changes over the decade of the 1990s in rural New Brunswick. Most apparent in this over-time review of the indicators is the continuation of the relative disadvantage of rural zones, when compared to urban New Brunswick, and the continuing advantage of Strong MIZ zones compared to No MIZ zones of the province. The inter-census analyses also reveal that the relative economic prosperity of the late 1990s is not equally apparent across all geographic zones of the province. The perennially disadvantaged No MIZ zones, for example, continue to exhibit economic decline on some indicators in the most recent inter-census period. The results thus indicate substantial disparity between the more advantaged urban centres and the less advantaged rural and small town zones, but also indicate a growing disparity between the increasingly favorable socioeconomic experiences of Strong MIZ residents and the decreasing position of those residing in No MIZ zones.

Examples of these patterns include the following:

Economic Indicators

- The urban labour force participation (LFP) rate exceeded the rural LFP rate in 2001 (65.5% compared to 60.4%). Within rural New Brunswick, a higher LFP rate was observed in Strong MIZ than in No MIZ zones and while the rate of the former zones increased between 1996 and 2001, the No MIZ rate was roughly the same in 2001, as it was ten years earlier.

- Unemployment rates are lowest in urban New Brunswick (9.1%) and highest in No MIZ zones (19.7%). While every other geographic zone exhibited a lower unemployment rate in 2001 than ten years earlier, the unemployment rate in No MIZ was the same in 2001 as it was in 1991.

- Personal median incomes are much higher in urban than in rural New Brunswick ($20,665 compared to $16,742 in 2001). Of the rural and small town zones, the highest incomes are observed in Strong MIZ and the lowest in No MIZ zones. Weak and No MIZ zones were the only zones in the province to exhibit a decline in income between 1996 and 2001, and of these two zones, the decline was most pronounced in No MIZ zones.

- While the urban and rural incidence of low income is virtually the same (at just 15%), within rural New Brunswick it ranges from a low of 11.8% in Strong MIZ zones to a high of 17.6% in No MIZ zones. No MIZ were the only zones to have higher incidence of low-income in 2001 than in 1991.

- In 2001, the share of income derived from social transfers was more than twice as large in rural New Brunswick than in urban New Brunswick (21.9% compared to 10.4%). Strong MIZ residents had the lowest proportion of social transfer income, while No MIZ residents had the highest. No MIZ were the only zones to have higher rate of reliance on social transfer income in 2001 than in 1991.

Education Indicators

- A greater proportion of rural than urban residents over 20 years of age had not completed a high school diploma as recently as 2001 (41.9% compared to 27.1%).

- Urban residents are two times more likely than rural residents to have attained a university degree (16.2% compared to 8.1%). No MIZ residents are the least likely in the province to have completed high school and to have attained a university degree.

- In 2001 urban New Brunswick had 21.1 education providers per 1,000 population, compared to just 15.8 in rural zones.

Social Indicators

- Strong MIZ zones have the lowest percentage of lone parents in rural New Brunswick (12.5%). In contrast, nearly one-in-five No MIZ families are of this type (19.6%).

- Dwelling values are consistently higher in urban than in rural zones of the province and are slightly higher in Strong MIZ than in No MIZ zones.

- Strong MIZ housing is the most affordable in the province, with just 12.2% of household owners spending greater than 30% of their income on shelter in 2001.

Health Care Indicators

- In rural and small town New Brunswick resided lower numbers of health care providers per 1,000 population than in urban regions. Within non-metropolitan New Brunswick, in Strong MIZ zones resided the highest proportion of health care providers (26.2 per 1,000 population), yet the lowest proportion of health care professionals (e.g., physicians) in the province (1.7 per 1,000 population).

Residents of rural and small town New Brunswick are clearly not equivalent to their urban counterparts with respect to economic prosperity, social well-being, educational attainment and access to health care. The differences that exist within rural and small town New Brunswick are, however, equally apparent. Despite moderate improvements in the most disadvantaged No MIZ zones, residents of these zones continue, as recently as 2001, to experience conditions of disadvantage relative to the rest of New Brunswick. The MIZ classification system consistently demonstrates that resources and support are increasingly needed as social and economic integration with urban regions decreases. No MIZ zones are in a relative position of greater need in terms of supporting policy and programs than are their more integrated Strong MIZ counterparts.


Executive Summary

Introduction

The Government of Canada's Rural Secretariat initiated this report to advance its goal of improving government and citizen understanding of rural conditions in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This report benchmarks major socio-economic structures and trends regarding rural areas. The overall objective is to help improve policy with respect to the economic and social conditions found in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Research Methods

Two major classification systems form the core analysis in this report. First, the Metropolitan Influenced Zones (MIZ) system, developed by McNiven et al. (2000), is utilized to make distinctions within rural and small town Newfoundland and Labrador. The four MIZ categories are Strong, Moderate, Weak, and No MIZ, with each reflecting progressively greater rurality. Second, a basic comparison between urban centres and rural/small town zones is also presented to capture overall differences between the two sectors of the province. In total, 20 indicators from Statistics Canada's 2001, 1996 and 1991 Censuses of Population have been calculated and analyzed for each of four degrees of rurality, for rural and small town Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole, and for its urban centres.

MAJOR FINDINGS

Population Indicators

In 2001, rural and small town residents comprised 53.5% of the total Newfoundland and Labrador population, down from 55.4% in 1991. Between 1991 and 1996, virtually all of the province's population contraction (of 2.9%) was due to losses in rural and small town zones (of 5.1%). Though urban population decline contributed to the provincial loss between 1996 and 2001, rural population losses greatly exceeded that of urban centres during the latter half of the decade. The 1996 to 2001 population contraction was essentially uniform across rural and small town zones, with each MIZ zone undergoing losses of 10.0% or 11.0 %.

Proportionally speaking, Newfoundland and Labrador had a significantly larger rural population than Canada in 2001 (53.5% compared to 20.6%), with most of the difference attributable to the much larger proportional populations of Moderate and Weak MIZ zones in Newfoundland and Labrador than in Canada (of a combined 45.3% compared to 14.2%). Population losses between 1996 and 2001 in rural Newfoundland and Labrador were much greater than that of rural Canada (10.6 compared to 0.4%).

Compared to the urban population, Newfoundland and Labrador's rural population is slightly less youthful, with smaller proportions of children, youth and young adults and larger proportions of adults and seniors. The average age of the provincial population increased between 1991 and 2001, with rural zones slightly more likely than urban areas to have declining proportions of children, youth, and young adults and increasing proportions of adults and seniors.

Rural and small town zones were home to a greater proportion of Aboriginal individuals than were the province's urban centres (comprising 5.6% of the rural versus 1.5% of the urban population in 2001). Weak MIZ zones had the largest absolute number of Aboriginal individuals in 2001, while No MIZ zones had the largest proportional share of individuals self-identifying as Aboriginal in this census year.

Economic, Education, Social and Health Care Indicators

Residents of rural Newfoundland and Labrador were by far the most disadvantaged with respect to economic conditions, levels of educational attainment and access to health care. Within rural and small town Newfoundland and Labrador, Strong and Weak MIZ zones often emerged as the most advantaged of the rural zones, while Moderate and No MIZ zones often displayed the least favorable characteristics in the province.

The use of three consecutive census years permits a review of changes over the decade of the 1990s in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Most apparent in this over-time analysis is the continuation of the relative disadvantage of rural zones, when compared to urban Newfoundland and Labrador. Within rural zones of the province, however, a more mixed pattern of over-time change is observed, at least with respect to economic conditions. While No MIZ zones were once among the most advantaged of rural zones, by 2001 the economic conditions had deteriorated such that they ranked among the least advantaged. Strong MIZ zones, in contrast, exhibited much greater over time improvement and, as a result, replaced No MIZ as the most prosperous of zones as of 2001. At the same time, most zones exhibited a degree of improvement in the latter half of the 1990s, though seldom were conditions in 2001 substantially better than they were in 1991.

Examples of these patterns include the following:

Economic Indicators

- Labour force participation rates were much higher in urban than in rural zones of the province (62.9% compared to 53.1% in 2001, respectively). Though rates increased throughout the province between 1996 and 2001, they remained lower in 2001 than in 1991.

- Rural unemployment rates exceeded urban unemployment rates in each census year. No MIZ zones not only had the highest unemployment rate in the province (41.3% in 2001), they were the only zones in the province to exhibit an increase in unemployment rates between 1991 and 2001.

- Rural and small town populations dominated employment in primary industries, while urbanites were much more likely to be working in the service industries in each census year.

- Urban median incomes exceeded rural median incomes in each census year, though Moderate and No MIZ were the only zones in the province with a higher median income in 2001 than in 1996.

- A greater proportion of rural than urban residents were considered low-income in 2001 (20.5% compared to 17.2%), though Strong MIZ zones had roughly the same proportion of low-income individuals as did urban centres (17.1%).

- A greater proportion of rural than urban incomes were derived from social transfer income in 2001 (29.6% compared to 14.2%), and within rural Newfoundland and Labrador, Moderate and No MIZ residents were the most likely to derive their income from this source (32.6% and 32.0%, respectively).

Education Indicators

- The lowest level of educational attainment is observed in Moderate and No MIZ zones where, respectively, 52.8% and 53.3% of the population of at least 20 years of age had not completed high school as recently as 2001.

- All rural zones had fewer education providers per capita than did urban centres regardless of census year. Moderate MIZ zones had the fewest education providers in the province in 2001 (14.7 per 1,000 residents).

Social Indicators

- Housing values in Strong MIZ zones were 38% higher than housing values in No MIZ zones. However, No MIZ zones were only slightly less likely than Strong MIZ zones to have households that spent 30% or more on shelter costs in 2001 (11.1% compared to 13.4%).

Health Care Indicators

- In 1996, the urban/rural gap in the number of health care providers was 18.5 providers per 1,000 residents. By 2001, this gap had increased to 21.2 providers per 1,000 residents.

- In No MIZ zones resided the lowest number of health care providers in the province (11.9 per 1,000 in 2001), with just 0.8 professional health care providers (e.g., physicians) per 1,000 residents.

A notable exception to these patterns was found for the prevalence of lone-parent families. Lone-parent families were more common in urban than in rural zones of the province (16.8% compared to 13.4% in 2001) and the least likely to be found in No MIZ zones (10.4%).

Residents of rural and small town Newfoundland and Labrador are clearly not equivalent to their urban counterparts with respect to economic prosperity, educational attainment, housing, and access to health care. The differences that exist within rural and small town Newfoundland and Labrador are, however, equally apparent. Though the disadvantaged position of No MIZ zones suggests that lack of urban integration is a factor here, it is unclear why the more integrated Moderate MIZ zones often displayed the most disadvantaged conditions in the province. Nonetheless, decision makers should recognize the range of conditions across the four MIZ zones of the province when drafting policy and implementing programs.


Executive Summary

Introduction

The Government of Canada's Rural Secretariat initiated this report to advance its goal in improving government and citizen understanding of rural conditions in the province of Nova Scotia. This report benchmarks the major socio-economic structures and trends regarding rural areas. The overall objective is to help improve policy with respect to the economic and social conditions found in rural Nova Scotia.

Research Methods

Two major classification systems form the core analysis in this report. First, the Metropolitan Influenced Zone (MIZ) system, developed by McNiven et al. (2000), is utilized to make distinctions within rural and small town Nova Scotia. The four MIZ categories are Strong, Moderate, Weak, and No MIZ, with each progressively resembling rurality. Second, a basic difference between urban centres and rural/small town zones is also presented to capture overall variance between the two sectors of the province. In total, 20 indicators from Statistics Canada's 2001, 1996 and 1991 Censuses of Population have been calculated and analyzed for each of four degrees of rurality, for rural and small town Nova Scotia as a whole, and for urban centres.

MAJOR FINDINGS

Population Indicators

In 2001, rural and small town residents comprised 36.7% of the total Nova Scotia population, down from 39.6% in 1991. Between 1996 and 2001 Nova Scotia's rural population decreased by 2.3%, while the urban population increased by 1.2%. Population change varied within rural and small town zones, with population growth of 4.9% occurring in one of the least populated of the rural zones, Strong MIZ, and population contraction of 2.1%, 3.2%, and 1.3% occurring in Moderate, Weak and No MIZ zones, respectively.

In 2001, Nova Scotia's rural population comprised a larger share of the total population than was the case Canada-wide (36.7% compared to 20.6%). Canada's rural population grew (by 3.9%) between 1991 and 1996, while Nova Scotia's rural population contracted (by 0.6%). After 1996, both Canada's and Nova Scotia's rural population contracted, although to a greater extent in Nova Scotia (2.3%) than in Canada (0.4%).

Compared to urban Nova Scotia, rural and small town zones have an older age profile, with smaller proportions of children, youth and young adults and higher proportions of adults and seniors. While Weak MIZ zones most pointedly exemplify this older age structure, Strong MIZ zones have, in fact, the youngest age structure in the province. The population in all geographic zones aged between 1991 and 2001, however, Weak MIZ populations aged, as a group, the fastest and Strong MIZ populations aged at the slowest rate in the province.

The share of the Nova Scotian population that is Aboriginal is small, hovering between 1% and 2% in all but one geographic zone. The exception is found in No MIZ zones, where in 2001, one in three (32.3%) residents were of Aboriginal identity. Aboriginal representation increased in virtually every geographic zone of the province between 1996 and 2001. No MIZ zones exhibited the largest percentage increase in the province (of 3.3%), while Weak MIZ zones had the largest increase in absolute numbers of Aboriginal individuals in the latter half of the 1990s (of 2,450 compared to an increase of 130 No MIZ Aboriginal residents).

Economic, Education, Social and Health Care Indicators

Most of the results illustrate a great deal of variation in the economic, education, social, and health care situations within rural and small town Nova Scotia. Though differences between the urban and rural populations are apparent, there is often greater variation among the four MIZ categories. Strong MIZ zones are most similar to urban centres, with many indicators revealing conditions of substantial advantage relative to the rest of rural Nova Scotia and for some indicators actually exceeding urban regions. No MIZ zones consistently rank last in the province, although the most heavily populated Weak MIZ zones are also among the least advantaged in the province. Moderate MIZ zones typically fall somewhere between the most and least advantaged of rural zones.

The use of three consecutive census years permits a review of changes over the decade of the 1990s in rural Nova Scotia. Most apparent in this review of the indicators is the continuation of the relative disadvantage of rural zones over time, when compared to urban Nova Scotia, and the continuing advantage of Strong MIZ zones. For some indicators, Weak and No MIZ zones exhibited declining economic well-being between 1996 and 2001 and for other indicators, modest improvements occurred, but were not sufficient to close the gap between these zones and the more advantaged Strong MIZ zones and urban centres.

Examples of these patterns include the following:

Economic Indicators

- High labour force participation and low unemployment rates are consistently found across time in Strong MIZ zones, while low labour force participation and high unemployment rates are consistently found in No MIZ zones.

- Strong MIZ residents are highly represented in production service industries (30.3% compared to 24.9% provincially in 2001). No MIZ residents, in contrast, are the least likely in the province to work in production service industries.
- In 2001, Strong MIZ zones had the highest personal median incomes in rural Nova Scotia while the lowest incomes were observed in No MIZ zones.

- Despite having the largest percentage drop in the incidence of low income between 1996 and 2001, No MIZ zones continued in 2001 to have the highest percentage of low-income individuals in the province (22.8%) while the lowest percentage was observed in Strong MIZ zones (11.5%). The most heavily populated Weak MIZ zones had the second highest percentage of low-income residents in rural Nova Scotia in this census year (16.1%).

- Residents of Weak and especially No MIZ zones were the most likely in the province to rely upon social transfer income (21.2% and 29.4% of their total income in 2001, respectively). Residents of urban centres and Strong MIZ zones were the least likely (14.1% and 14.8%, respectively).

Education Indicators

- The lowest level of educational attainment was observed in No MIZ zones, where 45.3% of the population of at least 20 years of age had not completed high school as recently as 2001. Strong MIZ residents were the most likely in the province to have a post-secondary certificate or diploma (35.8% compared to 31.2% provincially in 2001) and the least likely of the rural population to have less than a high school education (36.0% compared to the rural average of 38.8%).

Social Indicators

- No MIZ zones had the highest incidence of, and experienced the greatest over time growth in, lone-parent families (from 21.3% in 1991 to 26.4% in 2001), while the lowest rate was observed in Strong MIZ zones (12.2% in 2001).

- Strong MIZ zones have the newest housing in the province, with 12.2% of dwellings constructed between 1996 and 2001 compared to 6.5% provincially. The smallest proportion of new housing construction occurred in Weak and No MIZ zones during this period (4.5% and 5.7%, respectively).

- Housing in urban areas is slightly less affordable than rural housing. Within rural Nova Scotia, Moderate MIZ housing is least affordable while No MIZ housing is most affordable.

Health Care Indicators

- In rural and small town Nova Scotia resided fewer health care providers per 1,000 population than in urban regions in 2001 (24.5 compared to 33.0 providers per 1,000 population). Within rural Nova Scotia, in No MIZ zones resided by far the fewest health care providers (14.4 per 1,000 population).

Rural and small town Nova Scotians are clearly not equivalent to their urban counterparts with respect to economic prosperity, social well-being, educational attainment and access to health care. The differences that exist within rural and small town Nova Scotia are, however, equally if not more apparent. Despite moderate improvements in No MIZ zones, residents there continued, as recently as 2001, to experience conditions of disadvantage relative to the rest of Nova Scotia. It is important to point out, however, that this zone contains only eight Census Subdivisions, six of which are First Nations and one of the remaining two was strongly affected by the closure of the cod fishery in 1992. The MIZ classification system consistently demonstrates that resources and support are increasingly needed as social and economic integration with urban centres decreases. No MIZ zones (and, in some cases, Weak MIZ zones) are in a relative position of greater need in terms of supporting policy and programs than are their more integrated Strong MIZ counterparts.


Executive Summary

Introduction

The Government of Canada's Rural Secretariat initiated this report to advance its goal in improving government and citizen understanding of rural conditions in the province of Prince Edward Island. This report benchmarks major socio-economic structures and trends regarding rural areas. The overall objective is to help improve policy with respect to the economic and social conditions found in rural Prince Edward Island.

Research Methods

Two major classification systems form the core analysis in this report. First, the Metropolitan Influenced Zone (MIZ) system, developed by McNiven et al. (2000), is utilized to make distinctions within rural and small town Prince Edward Island. The four MIZ categories are Strong, Moderate, Weak, and No MIZ, with each reflecting progressively greater rurality. Second, a basic comparison between urban centres and rural/small town zones is also presented to capture overall differences. In total, 20 indicators from Statistics Canada's 2001, 1996 and 1991 Censuses of Population have been calculated and analyzed for each of four degrees of rurality, for rural and small town Prince Edward Island as a whole, and for its urban centres.

MAJOR FINDINGS

Population Indicators

In 2001, rural and small town residents comprised 44.9% of the total Prince Edward Island population. Moderate MIZ zones were the most heavily populated of the rural zones (comprising 21.7% of the total population), followed by Strong (14.0%), Weak (8.6%), and, finally, No MIZ (0.5%) zones.

Between 1991 and 1996, population growth is observed in both urban and rural Prince Edward Island. However, between 1996 and 2001, the rural population decreased slightly (by 1.0%), while the urban population continued to increase (by 1.8%). Population change varied considerably within rural and small town zones, ranging from the most consistent growth in Strong MIZ zones (of 5.9% and 0.1% in each inter-census period, respectively) to population contraction in No MIZ zones (of 10.2% between 1991 and 1996 and of 5.8% between 1996 and 2001).

Prince Edward Island's rural population comprised a much larger share of the total population than was the case Canada wide (44.9% compared to 20.6%). The rural populations of the province and of Canada as a whole grew between 1991 and 1996 (by 2.4% and 3.9% respectively). After 1996, both Canada's and Prince Edward Island's rural populations contracted, though at a marginally greater rate in Prince Edward Island (1.0%) than in Canada as a whole (0.4%).

Compared to urban Prince Edward Island, rural and small town zones had slightly higher proportions falling within the lowest (children) and highest (seniors) age categories. All but No MIZ zones exhibited the same age structure. No MIZ zones, while having the largest proportion of children in the province (22.8% compared to the provincial figure of 20.0%), had the smallest proportion of seniors (9.6% compared to 12.8% in the total province). Between 1991 and 2001, the age distribution of both the urban and rural populations became more concentrated in the adult age category, with Weak MIZ zones most visibly exemplifying this trend of all rural zones.

Aboriginal individuals comprised a marginally larger share of the urban than the rural and small town population in 2001 (1.2% compared to 0.8%). Within rural zones, Aboriginal representation ranged from a low of 0.3% in Moderate MIZ zones to a high of 2.5% in Weak MIZ zones. The number of Aboriginal individuals in urban centres nearly doubled between 1996 and 2001, increasing from 455 to 855 individuals, yet the share of the urban population comprised of Aboriginal people increased by just 0.6 percentage points. Within rural and small town Prince Edward Island, Aboriginal representation remained stable in all but No MIZ zones, where an increase of 1.5 percentage points is observed.

Economic, Education, Social and Health Care Indicators

Most of the results illustrate a great deal of variation in the economic, education, social, and health care situations within rural and small town Prince Edward Island. While differences between the urban and rural populations are apparent, there was often greater variation among the four MIZ categories. Strong MIZ zones were most similar to urban centres, with many indicators revealing conditions of substantial advantage relative to the rest of rural Prince Edward Island. Weak and, on many indicators, No MIZ zones, in contrast, were among the least advantaged zones in the province, while Moderate MIZ zones usually fell somewhere between these extremes.

The use of three consecutive census years permits a review of changes over the decade of the 1990s in rural Prince Edward Island. Most apparent in this over-time review of the indicators is the continuation of the relative disadvantage of rural zones, when compared to urban Prince Edward Island, and the continuing advantage of Strong MIZ zones. For some indicators, Weak and No MIZ zones exhibited declining economic well-being between 1996 and 2001 and for other indicators, modest improvements were not sufficient to close the gap between these zones and the more advantaged Strong MIZ zones and urban centres.

Examples of this pattern include the following:

Economic Indicators

- Low unemployment rates were consistently found across time in Strong MIZ zones, while high unemployment rates were consistently found in No MIZ zones.

- Residents of Strong MIZ zones were the most likely in rural Prince Edward Island to be employed in the service industries, and in production and government-provided services in particular, while Weak and No MIZ residents were the least represented in service industry employment in the province.

- Generally, median incomes declined as metropolitan influence weakened, with Weak MIZ incomes comprising just 80% of Strong MIZ incomes in 2001. Weak MIZ were also the only rural zones in the province to exhibit a lower median income in 2001 than in 1991.

- Weak and No MIZ zones had the highest proportions of low-income residents in the province (15.6% and 17.9%, respectively), and Strong MIZ zones had the lowest (7.5%). Weak and No MIZ were also the only zones in the province to have a higher proportion of low-income residents in 2001 than in 1991 (though urban centres had the same proportion in 2001 as in 1991).

- Weak MIZ zones had the highest proportion of residents with incomes derived from social transfer payments in the province (26.5%), followed by No MIZ zones (25.1%).

Education Indicators

- The lowest level of educational attainment is observed in Weak and No MIZ zones where, respectively, 53.3% and 51.5% of the population of at least 20 years of age had not completed high school as recently as 2001. Weak MIZ residents were also the least likely in Prince Edward Island to have attained some-post-secondary education (8.2%) or a university degree (5.1%) in 2001, and No MIZ residents were the least likely to have attained a post-secondary certificate or diploma (17.2%) in this census year. Of the rural zones, Strong MIZ, in contrast, had the highest proportions of individuals attaining a post-secondary certificate/diploma (32.4%) or a university degree (10.2%) in 2001.

- Weak MIZ zones had the smallest and Strong MIZ zones the largest number of per 1,000 population education providers in 2001 (11.7 compared to 13.3 per 1,000 population, respectively).

Social Indicators

- The prevalence of lone-parent families increased as metropolitan influence declined. No MIZ zones had the highest incidence of, and experienced the greatest over time growth in lone-parent families (from 9.8% in 1991 to 25.0% in 2001), while the lowest rates are observed in Strong MIZ zones (10.6% in 2001).

- Strong MIZ zones had the newest housing in the province, with 16.0% of dwellings constructed between 1991 and 2001 compared to 14.9% provincially. Weak MIZ zones were the least likely to have new houses constructed during this period (12.5%).

- Housing values declined as urban influence weakened. Despite declining between 1996 and 2001, Strong MIZ housing values continued to be the highest in rural Prince Edward Island in 2001, averaging $20,200 higher (12%) than No MIZ housing values.

- Despite having among the lowest housing values in the province, residents of Weak MIZ zones were the least able in the province to afford their shelter with 13.5% of household owners spending more than 30% of their income on shelter in 2001.

Health Care Indicators

- In No MIZ zones resided the lowest ratio of health care providers to population in the province (14.8 per 1,000 population) and as of 2001, resided no professional health care providers (e.g., physicians). Though substantially fewer health care professionals resided in Strong MIZ than in urban centres, the former zones had the highest relative number of professionals residing in rural Prince Edward Island in 2001 (2.4 per 1,000 population).

Residents of rural and small town Prince Edward Island are clearly not equivalent to their urban counterparts with respect to economic prosperity, social well-being, educational attainment and access to health care. The differences that exist within rural and small town Prince Edward Island are, however, equally, if not more, apparent. Despite moderate improvements in the most disadvantaged Weak and No MIZ zones, residents of these zones continue, as recently as 2001, to experience conditions of disadvantage relative to the rest of Prince Edward Island. The MIZ classification system consistently demonstrates that resources and support are increasingly needed as social and economic integration with urban regions decreases. Weak and No MIZ zones are in a relative position of greater need in terms of supporting policy and programs than are their more integrated Strong MIZ counterparts.




Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Valerie Roy, Senior Communications Advisor
    Rural Secretariat
    (506) 851-3325 or (506) 381-0501
    royvx@agr.gc.ca