New census results released by Statistics Canada this past September indicate that a majority of Canadians saw their incomes rise in the decade from 2005 to 2015. The median income of individuals rose 12.7 per cent to $34,204 in 2015, adjusted for inflation. Canada’s top one percent reported a median income of $234,130 in 2015, a 14 percent increase since 2005.
Led by the resource-rich provinces, median income for households rose 10.8 percent to $70,336 from $63,457 between 2005-2015, compared with a 9.2 percent growth in the previous decade and a decline of 1.8 percent the decade before that. Resource-based provinces and regions had the highest income growth, led by Nunavut and Saskatchewan, at a 36.7 percent and 36.5 percent jump respectively in the median income. New Brunswick had the lowest median household income in 2015 ($59,347), followed by Quebec ($59,822).
High resource prices drew investment as well as people to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, boosting the construction sector and filtering down through the economy as a whole. (The 2015 census data doesn’t reflect the dramatic drop in oil prices from 2014-2016.)
The boom in the resource sector was countered by a decline in manufacturing, especially in Ontario and Quebec. According to the Labour Force Survey, employment numbers in manufacturing fell by 22 percent while agriculture dropped by 14 percent.
There were 4.8 million Canadians living in a low income-measure household in 2015, with 1.2 mil- lion (nearly one in four) of them children. Low income is defined as a person living alone if his or her aftertax income is under $22,133, while persons in a household of four are considered low income if the home’s aftertax income is less than $44,266. In seven of Canada’s biggest cities, one in every five children was living in a low-income household in 2015. ◊