Income inequality spikes in Canada's big cities

January 28, 2013

OTTAWA—The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ analysis of new data on Canada’s richest 1% shows how much the income gap has been rising in Canada.

The richest 1% of Canadians make almost $180,000 more today than they did in 1982 (adjusted for inflation). The bottom 90% of Canadians saw income gains of only $1,700.

However, in Canada’s three largest cities—Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal—the bottom 90% make less today than they did in 1982.  They’ve seen drops in income of $4,300, $1,900, and $224, respectively. The top 1% in those cities saw pay increases of $189,000, $297,000, and $162,000, respectively.

“No province has managed to become more equal since 1980,” says CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald. “Instead, all provinces have become more unequal, although to varying degrees.”

Alberta is the most unequal province. The ratio of the richest 1% of Albertans to the bottom 90% is the highest in the country at 18 times. The top 1% of Albertans have seen by far the biggest pay increase in the country, making $320,000 more today—a doubling of their 1982 income. The bottom 90% of Albertans have seen only a raise of $3,900 over 30 years.

British Columbia was the only province where the bottom 90% make less than they did in 1982.

Canada’s most equal province is Prince Edward Island where the ratio to the top 1% to the bottom 90% is 8 times. In fact, the Atlantic Provinces have seen much more equal growth in incomes between the top 1% and the rest of maritimers.

Calgary is by far the most unequal city in the federation with the ratio of the top 1% to the bottom 90% at 26 times in 2010. The top 1% of Calgarians saw a staggering $570,000 increase in pay since 1982. The bottom 90% saw an increase of only $2,000. 

“This new data shows how extreme income inequality has become in places like Calgary. It also reveals for the first time how the bottom 90% of those in Canada’s biggest cities of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal have actually make less today than they did in 1982,” says Macdonald.


For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.