New wealth distribution study finds deep and persistent inequality in Canada

OTTAWA—Wealth in Canada is concentrated heavily in the top 10% – with the bottom 50% combined accounting for less than 6% of all wealth, a new study by the Broadbent Institute has found.

The report, titled Haves and Have-Nots, is based on custom Statistics Canada data from the agency's Survey of Financial Security, a snapshot of the distribution of assets, debts and net worth of Canadians. The data provided to the Institute allows for a more detailed analysis using 10% slices of the population called deciles.

“With much of the public debate focused on the growing problem of income inequality, wealth inequality has been less scrutinized,” said Broadbent Institute Executive Director Rick Smith.

“Contrary to rosy reports of rising net worth and a post-recession recovery, these new numbers sound the alarm on Canada’s wealth inequality problem.”

Key findings include:

  • The top 10% of Canadians accounted for almost half (47.9%) of all wealth in 2012.
  • The bottom 30% of Canadians accounted for less than 1% of all wealth.
  • The median net worth of the top 10% rose by 41.9% since 2005 (to $2.1 million) compared to a 150% drop in the median net worth of the bottom 10% (to negative $5,100).
  • The top 10% held almost $6 in every $10 (59.6%) of financial assets excluding pensions – more than the bottom 90% combined.
  • The concentration of wealth for the top 10% was highest in British Columbia at 56.2% and lowest in Atlantic Canada (31.7%) and Quebec (43.4%).

"There are so many people being left behind – and there’s simply no excuse for this kind of deep and persistent wealth inequality in Canada,” said Smith.

"On inequality, politics and the political choices we make matter. It's time the federal government tackles Canada’s inequality problem.”

Haves and Have-Nots: deep and persistent wealth inequality in Canada is available online at


For more information, please contact:

Mike Fancie, Broadbent Institute
613-866-3606 or mfancie [at] broadbentinstitute [dot] ca