Haliburton County (also referred to as the Haliburton Highlands) is located at the south end of the Canadian Shield at the north end of southern Ontario, approximately 2.5 hours northeast of Toronto. The county is 4,025 square kilometres in size with a rugged landscape of lakes and hills. The hundreds of lakes and natural beauty make it a desirable area to cottage, and tourism is a major source of income. With the pandemic, many have moved to the county permanently. Snowmobiling, skiing, curling, pickleball, boating, kayaking and hiking are some of the popular activities in the area.
The Highlands also has a thriving arts community, many connected to the Fleming School of Art + Design. There is also a healthy network of musicians and a burgeoning local food network. It is a resilient community where people care for and about each other. Volunteer opportunities abound.
The permanent population of Haliburton County is 19,434, with a seasonal population estimated at 45,000. 63% of our residents are over the age of 50, with approximately half of those over 65. The population 0 – 17 is 2,222 and the population often referred to as the “working age” (18 – 64) is just 10,394 people.
77% of households are made up of one or two people only. As there is no public transportation, life can be very physically and socially isolating for individuals living on their own.
Prior to COVID-19, about 17.2% of residents were considered low income, although most service providers believe that number may have increased. The child poverty rate is estimated by the HKPR District Health Unit to be 25%, an increase over the past few years!
Calculations from the Ontario Living Wage Network in 2019, shows that in Haliburton County, a family of four – with both parents working full-time – would each have to earn a living wage of $19.42 per hour in order to cover basic expenses in 2018. That is more than $5 per hour higher than Ontario’s current minimum wage. Among the 22 Ontario communities for which a living wage was calculated in 2018, Haliburton County had the second highest total – only trailing Toronto. The main contributing factors of seasonal and low-paying employment and lack of public transportation are exacerbated by difficulty in finding affordable housing options, high food prices and lack of affordable child care.
SIRCH takes a “Social Determinants of Health” approach to health. The social determinants refer to a specific group of social and economic factors that relate to an individual’s place in society, such as income, social support, coping skills, education or employment. We work tirelessly to help create a thriving community where each person feels connected, supported and encouraged.