Southwestern Ontario's once prosperous cities now economic laggards: Fraser Institute

A recent study by the Fraser Institute has found that there exists a 'prosperity gap' between Ontario and nearby American states in the Great Lakes region. Nov. 2023 (Photo courtesy of Fraser Institute)

A recent study by the Fraser Institute has found that there exists a 'prosperity gap' between Ontario and nearby American states in the Great Lakes region.

Windsor is among some big Ontario cities who ranked nearly last in the findings looking at employment incomes in the largest 107 metropolitan areas around the Great Lakes region for 2019.

The study compares median employment income-wages, salaries and commissions from paid and self-employment income (net) before taxes and government transfers-in the 107 largest metropolitan areas in Ontario, Quebec and American states bordering the Great Lakes.

Specifically, out of the 20 bottom ranked jurisdictions, seven are found in Ontario.

Speaking on AM800's The Dan MacDonald Show, Ben Eisen, Senior Fellow, Fraser Institute says the cities were chosen for the study due to supply chains linking them, trade relationships, and the manufacturing sectors in a lot of them.

"So there's 107 overall cities that meet those criteria across the area and Windsor finished 99th place out of 107. So certainly this is a pan Ontarian issue. Ontario cities generally performed poorly and Windsor as well in that group with the rest of the Ontario cities not doing well, compared to the Great Lakes region."

He says after the 2008/09 recession, Ontario did not have a strong recovery compared to other regions.

"Now the reasons for that are multifaceted. They have to do with things that are outside of anyone's particular control, but they're also affected by public policy choices. A lot of different types of business taxes are high in Ontario. There was very high electricity costs through very long periods of this time which likely contributed to difficulties in the    manufacturing sector."

Eisen says Chicago, Milwaukee ranked high on the list, including even Cleveland, Ohio.

Places that he says we necessarily don't think of as extremely prosperous.

"Detroit a substantially higher median income just right across the border from Windsor. So you talked about having the challenges of having all the proverbial eggs in one basket, but Detroit has some of the same sectoral composition and has done far better in terms of median income than Windsor. So those are some of the cities that have faired well with some similarities in terms of the structure in their economies."

The study can be viewed by clicking HERE