Wealth gap widens in Canada as richest see faster rise in net worth

Statscan data released Wednesday paint a picture of widening economic inequality in Canada. Credit/Canadian Press

The wealth gap between the richest Canadian households and the country’s poorest has widened since 1999, new data released Wednesday shows, with the net worth of wealthy households comfortably outpacing gains made by lower-income households.

Statistics Canada says the average net worth of the top 20 per cent of families sorted by income group rose by an average of 80 per cent between 1999 and 2012, compared with a gain of 38 per cent among families in the bottom fifth of society.

Widening inequality

The findings underscore the widening economic inequality witnessed in North America and in other developed nations in recent decades as globalization and other factors profoundly alter labour markets and income division within established economies.

The top 20 per cent of Canadian families by income saw their average net worth rise from $721,900 in 1999 to $1.3 million in 2012, adjusted for inflation. Those numbers compares to the bottom 20 per cent of families who saw their average net worth rise at less than half that rate, to $109,300 from $79,500 over the same period.

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The federal agency says average net worth increased to $554,100 from $319,800.

Housing boom

The total net worth of Canadian families increased by $4.17 trillion due to a $4.92 trillion increase in assets, offset by a $750 billion increase in debt.

Half of the increase in assets was due to real estate, while the other half was due to other types of assets, including employer pension plans.

MORE: Debt has surged among Canadian households — but so has net worth


WATCH: Citing the OECD’s report that downgraded the Canadian economy further, NDP MP Nathan Cullen accused the minister of finance for being delusional about the state of the economy.

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