Canada's richest 1% getting richer

The proportion of women among the ranks of Canada's wealthy elite has almost doubled over the past 30 years, new data released by Statistics Canada Monday shows.

1% have seen their income increase over almost 30 years, but so has their tax burden

Canada's richest have seen their incomes increase at a much faster rate than everyone else, but so, too, has their share of the tax burden increased. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)


  • Rich people today more likely to stay that way than they used to be
  • Canada's riches got 10.6% of income in 2010, up from 7% in 1982
  • Tax burden of wealthy has increased from 13% to 21% over time
  • Four biggest provinces have 92 per cent of Canada's richest people

The proportion of women among the ranks of Canada's wealthy elite has almost doubled over the past 30 years, new data released by Statistics Canada Monday shows.

The data agency published its analysis of the richest one per cent of Canadian tax filers between the years 1982 and 2010 on Monday. From the total number of all Canadian tax filers, Statistics Canada narrowed its list down to 254,700 people at the top, who make up Canada's "one per cent."

Among numerous findings, the proportion of women in that group nearly doubled over the time period, from 11 per cent in 1982, to 21 per cent by 2010. That's 53,200 individuals.

The women in that group were slightly less likely to be married or partnered than the men were. Some 68 per cent of women were married or in a common law relationship, compared with 87 per cent of men.

Rich getting richer

The cutoff to be included in Canada's one per cent was $201,400 in 2010. That was a 37 per cent increase from where the cutoff was in the first year of the survey, $147,500 in 1982.

The data also shows the gap between the rich and poor is getting wider. In 1982, the median income of Canada's one per cent was $191,600. That was seven times higher than the $28,000 median for everybody else.

By 2010, that ratio had widened to 10 times, from $28,400 for everybody else to $283,400 for the one per cent.

The report uses 2010 constant dollars, so it's an apples-to-apples comparison. The 99 per cent of people were actually taking in much less than $28,000 in 1982, but in terms of buying power, their share is essentially the same today as it was then.

But Canada's one per cent are also shouldering a higher percentage of the tax burden than they used to. In 1982, the richest one per cent were paying 13.4 per cent of all tax paid in Canada. By 2007, that percentage had risen to a peak of 23.3 per cent, before slipping somewhat in the following years to 21.2 per cent by 2010.

Conversely, the remaining 99 per cent of Canadian tax filers have seen their share of the tax burden decrease from 86.6 per cent in 1982 to 78.8 per cent in 2010.

In terms of their share of all Canadian income, the one per cent have seen their percentage increase sharply over the past two decades, but also decrease a little in the past few years specifically. The top one per cent of Canada's 25.5 million tax filers accounted for 10.6 per cent of the nation's total income in 2010.

That was down from a peak of 12.1 per cent in 2006. In the early 1980s, the top one per cent of tax filers held seven per cent.

Provincial differences

By province, Alberta, B.C., Quebec and Ontario accounted for 92 per cent of Canada's one per cent. Ontario had 110,300, followed by Alberta with 52,200, Quebec at 42,600 and British Columbia with 29,500.

"Between 1990 and 2010," Statistics Canada said, "Alberta's share of the top one per cent of filers doubled from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, while Ontario's proportion fell from 51 per cent to 43 per cent."

The numbers also suggest that wealth is becoming even more hereditary. In the early 1980's the percentage of people in the one per cent that were also in that group the previous year was 67 per cent. By 2010, that ratio had risen to 72 per cent — an indication that people in the ranks of the rich are even more likely to stay there than they used to be.

It's a trend that's bearing out over time. In 1987, 44 per cent of Canada's richest people were in the one per cent five years earlier. "This proportion rose to 48 per cent in the early 1990s and to 52.7 per cent in 2010," Statistics Canada said.


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that the data covered 20 years. In fact, it stretches over almost 30, from 1982 to 2010.
    Jan 28, 2013 1:59 AM ET