The median total income of Canadian households rose from $63,457 in 2005 to $70,336 in 2015, a 10.8% increase.
Today, Statistics Canada is releasing data from the 2016 Census on the incomes of Canadians. This release presents incomes of Canadians as measured in 2015, and looks at trends over the 2005-to-2015 period, a decade of significant income growth and economic change.
An important factor in the economic story of Canada over the decade was high resource prices that drew investment and people to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, boosted the construction sector, and more generally filtered through the economy as a whole.
This boom in the resource sector coincided with a decline in the manufacturing sector, with fewer jobs in this sector in 2015 than 2005. The bulk of these manufacturing job losses were in Ontario and Quebec.
This census release paints a picture of the income of Canadians in 2015 before the effects of the oil price slowdown in 2015 and 2016 were fully felt.
Led by growth in resource-rich provinces, median income rose 10.8% in Canada from 2005 to 2015, compared with 9.2% growth in the previous decade and a decline of 1.8% the decade before that.
This growth was not distributed evenly across Canada. Resource-based provinces and regions had the highest income growth, led by Nunavut, and Saskatchewan. Median income growth was slowest in Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces with the largest populations and significant manufacturing activity.
The low income rate was relatively stable over the last decade, rising marginally from 14.0% in 2005 to 14.2% in 2015. There were regional variations over the decade. The number of persons in low income declined in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, while the number increased in Ontario. There were also variations across age groups with a smaller proportion of young children living in households with low income and a larger proportion of seniors.
Almost two-thirds of Canadian households contributed to an RRSP, RPP or TFSA in 2015. Of these households, more than half contributed to only one plan, while one-third contributed to two plans and 14% contributed to all three.
In 2015, 96% of Canadian couples had both spouses reporting income, up significantly from about two-thirds in the mid-1970s.
One-third of couples had fairly equal incomes in 2015 compared with about one-fifth of couples 30 years earlier.
The economy of Canada at the time of Confederation and the incomes of Canadians bear little resemblance to today’s modern global economy. Formal income statistics were not collected in 1867 and the vast majority of income was derived from farming, fishing, trapping, logging and, to a lesser degree, mining.
There were no income taxes at the time of Confederation and most Canadians in 1867 did not “retire.” Rather, most people lived and worked until they were physically unable to continue, whereupon they were supported by their family.
The incomes of Canadians have evolved over the last 150 years. Today, most Canadians have paid jobs, pay taxes, receive transfers and, as shown in the earlier Census release, live mainly in urban areas.
The median household income in Ontario was $74,287 in 2015, ranking sixth among the provinces and territories, and $3,951 above the Canadian median. Ontario had the slowest growth in median income (+3.8%) of any province or territory over the decade, and as a result, its rank fell three places from third highest in 2005, when it was $8,077 above the Canadian median.
The decline in the manufacturing sector in Ontario over the decade partly underlies these trends. According to the Labour Force Survey, employment in all industries grew by about 8.5% in Ontario from 2005 to 2015, while the manufacturing sector lost 318,000 jobs, down 30.0% from 2005. A combination of factors, including technological change, globalization, lower exchange rates and low productivity, help explain why manufacturing employment has declined.
The Ontario portion of Ottawa–Gatineau ($86,451), Petawawa ($86,048) and manufacturing-based Oshawa ($85,697) had the highest median income among metropolitan areas in Ontario in 2015. Ottawa, with 4.4% growth in median income, rose from second place a decade earlier to first among metropolitan areas in the province. Meanwhile, Oshawa fell from first to third place, with median income edging up 0.1%.
While Petawawa ranked seventh in median income in 2005, its rank rose to second place a decade later, with median income growth of 11.8%. Petawawa and Timmins (both up 11.7%) shared the highest median income growth rates among metropolitan areas in Ontario.
Toronto had a median income of $78,373 in 2015, up 3.3% from 2005, and its ranking improved from the ninth-highest median income in Ontario to the eighth.
Among the 152 Canadian metropolitan areas, 9 saw median incomes fall, 8 of which were in Ontario and 1 in Quebec. The decline in manufacturing in Ontario affected certain manufacturing towns more than others. Windsor (-6.4%) and Tillsonburg (-5.7%) had the largest declines in median incomes in Ontario metropolitan areas and both had about one-quarter of their workforce in manufacturing in 2005.
Source: Stats Canada