September 13, 2017 9:23 am
Updated: September 13, 2017 10:48 am

Resource boom fuelled Canada’s richest cities, according to the census

WATCH: Census 2016: Where we stand on income and poverty.


The average household in the municipality of Wood Buffalo, Alta., which includes Fort McMurray, was making about $193,511 before tax in 2015, according to newly released data from the 2016 census.

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That makes the oil town the city with Canada’s highest median household income. And it’s followed largely by other western cities: Yellowknife, Okotoks, Cold Lake and Fort St. John. Alberta alone accounts for seven out of Canada’s 10 highest-income cities.

READ MORE: Here’s what we know about Canada’s highest-earning 1%

Hawkesbury, Ont., has the lowest median income in Canada – just $42,384  – or 22 per cent of what the median household in Fort McMurray makes.

Resource-rich provinces benefitted from the boom in oil and other resource prices, according to Statistics Canada, and saw incomes increase over the last decade. Manufacturing-based economies, like Ontario and Quebec, saw comparatively low growth.

WATCH: Canadian economy beats expectations

“The resource boom is the big story of the period of time we’re looking at,” said Andrew Heisz, assistant director of Statistics Canada’s income statistics division.

“The flip side of that is a slowdown in manufacturing in Ontario. We’ve been seeing for some time now and talking about it for some time this idea that it’s the resource-producing areas that are pulling the growth of Canada and manufacturing areas were growing more slowly in Canada over the last decade.”

READ MORE: Rise of income inequality in Canada ‘almost exclusive’ to major cities, study says

In some Ontario cities, like Windsor and Tillsonburg, median incomes actually fell between 2005 and 2015. The only city east of the Prairies to crack the top 20 richest cities was Ottawa – home of the federal government.

“A city that has a large public service will also tend to have higher incomes. Ottawa is no exception there,” said Heisz.

Overall, the Canadian median household income grew from $63,457 in 2005 to $70,336 in 2015.

Among Canada’s biggest cities, Toronto’s median income in 2015 was $78,373, just three per cent higher than a decade before. Vancouver’s was $72,662 and Montreal’s was $61,790.

READ MORE: Mapping Canada’s richest and poorest neighbourhoods by postal code

But a resource boom might not last forever, which could slow income growth in the West. “I think most people today will be very curious to see what happens next year and the year after given changes in resource prices and changes in the dollar and how that is going to play out in the coming years,” said Heisz.

Canadian cities with the highest median household income

  1. Wood Buffalo (Fort McMurray), Alta.– $193,5112.
  2. Yellowknife, N.W.T. – $142,6163.
  3. Okotoks, Alta. – $116,1634.
  4. Cold Lake, Alta. – $110,5755.
  5. Fort St. John, B.C. – $107, 091

Canadian cities with the lowest median household income

  1. Hawkesbury, Ont. – $42,3842.
  2. Elliot Lake, Ont. – $42,4663.
  3. Lachute, Que. – $44,6814.
  4. Shawinigan, Que. – $46,0275.
  5. Campbellton, NB.. – $46,416

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