The Broadbent Blog


New StatsCan wealth data points to persistent economic inequality

houses-ben_salter-by2.0.jpg

Statistics Canada released today the Survey of Financial Security (SFS), providing Canadians with the first comprehensive snapshot of wealth and wealth distribution in the country since 2005.

While Canadian’s net worth has increased significantly since 2005, mostly due to increases in housing prices, the real story is one of persistent economic inequality and rising debt.

The top twenty percent of Canaidans have over 67% of the net wealth. The bottom 60%, in contrast, have only 11.1% percent of net wealth. The top 40 percent have 88.9 percent while the lowest quintile doesn’t even register. This poorest 20% have a median net worth of $1,100 compared to $1.4 million for the highest quintile.

Overall, the distribution is slightly better than in 2005, but remains very unequal.

Increasing family debt levels should cause concern as well. 25% of families now have a line of credit with a median value of $15,000, up from 15% in 1999 and with a median value of $6,600. And the squeeze on Canada’s young people continues: family units with the major income recipient under 35 years old had the highest debt load in 2012. This may be partly due to the fact that money owed on student loans was up 44.1% since 1999, totaling $28.3 billion.

Finally, there is also more evidence that Canadians are relying on housing for their retirement security with the median value of RRSPs at an inadequate $48,000.

All in all, further disturbing evidence that economic inequality remains a serious concern.

Photo: ben_salter. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.