Census 2016: highlights from latest report on Canadian income levels

Highlights from Statistics Canada's latest release Wednesday of census data, this one focused on Canadian income levels.
Statistics Canada's latest release matched 2016 census data with annual income data from the Canada Revenue Agency to provide a snapshot of median income for the decade 2005 to 2015. (Shutterstock)

Highlights from Statistics Canada's latest release Wednesday of census data, this one focused on Canadian income levels:

Income trends

  • The median total income of Canadian households reached $70,336 in 2015, a 10.8 per cent increase from $63,457 in 2005.
  • The Northwest Territories had the highest median income in Canada at $117,688, followed by Nunavut at $97,441 and Alberta at $93,835. New Brunswick had the lowest at $59,347, followed by Quebec at $59,822 and Nova Scotia at $60,764.
  • Nearly 1.2 million children under 18, about 17 per cent of Canada's 6.8 million kids, lived in a low-income household, comprising roughly one quarter of the 4.8 million people living under low-income conditions in 2015.
  • Of children living with two parents, 11.2 per cent lived in low income households, while that increased to 38.9 per cent in households with one parent; for those living with their mother, the low-income rate was 42 per cent, but 25.5 per cent for those living with their father.
  • Despite the second-lowest median income level in Canada, Quebec (14.3 per cent) was second only to Alberta (12.8 per cent) in having the lowest percentage of children in low-income households, thanks to lower child care costs and richer child benefits than elsewhere.
  • Nova Scotia and New Brunswick reported the highest percentage of children in low-income households at 22.2 per cent; Alberta had the lowest at 12.8 per cent.


  • Of Canada's 14 million households, 65.2 per cent contributed to one of either a registered pension plan, a registered retirement savings plan or a tax-free savings account. About 30 per cent contributed to more than one, and 9.3 per cent to all three.

Couples' income

  • Nearly 96 per cent of Canada's 8.2 million married or common-law couples saw both spouses report income in 2015, significantly more than about two-thirds of couples in the mid-1970s. Of those, 32 per cent were earning roughly the same income, compared to 20.6 per cent in 1985.
  • Same-sex couples continue to report a higher median income — men at $100,707, women at $92,857 — than opposite-sex couples at $87,605. More than 12 per cent of male couples reported incomes of more than $200,000, compared with 7.5 per cent of female couples and 8.4 per cent for opposite-sex couples.

Regional differences

  • Fuelled by strong commodity prices, Nunavut and Saskatchewan saw median income grow 36.7 per cent and 36.5 per cent, respectively, between 2005 and 2015. Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Alberta and Manitoba also grew by more than 20 per cent.
  • A struggling manufacturing sector held median income growth in Ontario and Quebec to just 3.8 per cent and 8.9 per cent, respectively.


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