News / Ottawa

Canadian incomes rise, but not all provinces are seeing equal growth

Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes lagging behind the rest of the country.

Canadian incomes rose over the last decade, but not equally across provinces.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Canadian incomes rose over the last decade, but not equally across provinces.

Incomes in Canada are growing but Ontario and Quebec are falling behind the west, as resource jobs replace manufacturing ones as the drivers of wealth in Canada.

Statistics Canada released new census numbers on Wednesday showing that Canada’s median household income was $70,336 in 2015, that’s a jump from $63,437 in 2005.

Virtually all Canadians saw growth over the last decade, but not all areas of the country grew equally. Household incomes in Ontario are growing slower than anywhere else in Canada climbing from $71,534 in 2005 to $74,287 a rate of just 3.8 per cent.

Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island also saw growth, but household incomes there were about $10,000 lower on average than the country as a whole.

By contrast, incomes in resource-rich provinces rose considerably. In Alberta, household incomes jumped from $75,684 to $93,835 -- a climb of 24 per cent -- while in Saskatchewan they climbed 36.5 per cent to $75,412.

The highest incomes in the country were in the Northwest Territories where the median is $117,688.

Eric Olson, the agency chief for housing and income, said there is a clear correlation between resource rich provinces and rapidly rising incomes.

“I think a lot of that is explained by the resources, the oil boom, all kinds of booms, but also all the indirect support of those industries.”

Ontario’s struggles appear to be largely about the loss of well-paying manufacturing jobs, which according other surveys the agency takes, have dropped 30 per cent in the last decade.

Olson said manufacturing is a changing industry and that will impact provinces like Ontario where it’s a big part of the economy.

“They have borne the brunt in the decline of employment there, but I can’t really predict what will happen in the coming future.”

Of 152 Census areas the agency tracks across the country, only nine places saw median household incomes drop in the last decade and eight of those are in Ontario.

Windsor was the worst hit with a drop of 6.4 per cent. The median household income in Toronto was $78,373, a rise of 3.3 per cent over the last decade, while at the same time housing prices have risen much more significantly.

Olson said their comparisons are adjusted for inflation, but only at the national rate and he admits there may be considerable difference for some Canadians.

“Some people may be facing more inflation than others either by where they’re living or what types of purchases they make.”

The 2011 census was voluntary and as a result Statistics Canada got weaker response rates, which is why the comparisons the agency released Wednesday are with 2005 data.

“We also put it at the end of the questionnaire and people get tired,” said Olson.   

He said they’re confident the 2016 numbers will be able to be compared against the 2021 numbers when that time comes.

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