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What You Have To Earn To Be In The 1% In Canada’s Major Cities

Daniel Tencer

If you've been following the financial news, you've likely come across stories about how Canada is getting richer, both minting homegrown millionaires and attracting immigrant millionaires from abroad.

Looking at the land rush in Toronto and Vancouver, you could be forgiven for thinking that Canada might be turning into a playground for the rich.

So what does it mean to be rich in Canada these days? Of course there's no one definition of "rich," but ever since the Great Recession we've been hearing a lot about "the one per cent," the very top earners in our economy who seem to be accumulating more and more of the world's wealth.

Those people are indisputably rich. So what does it take to be one of them in Canada today?

We asked Statistics Canada to break down income distribution data from the 2016 census by metro area, and they found some pretty remarkable differences from city to city. Case in point: You need nearly three times as much income to be a one-percenter in Calgary as you would in Sherbrooke, Que., or southern Ontario's Niagara region.

In StatCan's view, the big story in Canadian incomes over the past decade has been the resource boom, leading to higher incomes on the Prairies, and the decline of manufacturing, leading to job losses in traditional manufacturing bases.

That would help to explain why the average price of a home in Calgary cost $434,000 in January, while in the auto town of Windsor you can pick up an average house for $272,000 -- even after years of strong price growth.

Here are the incomes needed to be a one-percenter in each of Canada's 20 largest metro areas, as well as the income needed to be in the top 20 per cent of earners — as good a definition of "upper income" as any.


Sherbrooke, Que.: $172,069

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $51,413
Median household income: $73,250


St Catharines-Niagara, Ont.: $177,591

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $53,393
Median household income: $74,140


Quebec City: $189,121

Old Quebec City view Canada

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $59,169
Median household income: $87,570


Windsor, Ont.: $200,561

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $57,950
Median household income: $78,700


London, Ont.: $203,743

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $58,203
Median household income: $80,570


Winnipeg: $203,935

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $58,631
Median household income: $81,880


Halifax: $204,622

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $61,125
Median household income: $85,940


Oshawa, Ont.: $206,696

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $66,207
Median household income: $92,080


Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont.: $214,098

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $61,419
Median household income: $86,930


Victoria, B.C.: $214,373

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $62,940
Median household income: $89,640


Montreal: $224,060

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $56,348
Median household income: $76,950


Regina, Sask.: $232,623

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $71,864
Median household income: $97,940


Hamilton, Ont.: $236,176

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $62,978
Median household income: $87,590


Saskatoon: $240,932

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $68,683
Median household income: $94,580


Ottawa*: $244,534

*The Ontario part of the Ottawa-Gatineau region
Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $74,488
Median household income: $104,070


Vancouver: $246,266

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $60,147
Median household income: $79,930


St John's: $256,918

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $66,542
Median household income: $96,320


Edmonton: $297,928

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $75,773
Median household income: $101,870


Toronto: $301,883

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $61,665
Median household income: $78,280


Calgary: $451,609

Individual income needed to be in the top 20%: $78,924
Median household income: $104,410

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