Joining the cream of the crop in Canada

MONTREAL — More women are joining the one-per-cent club but still accounted for less than one-quarter of the country’s top earners in 2014, according to Statistics Canada.

Women made up 22 per cent of the top one per cent of tax filers in 2014 compared to 10 per cent in the early 1980s, said the agency’s Canadian Megatrends report released Friday.

The survey found that Canada had 268,500 tax filers in the top one per cent in 2014 earning at least $225,100, excluding government transfer payments.

Women further made up 15 per cent of the nearly 27,000 Canadians who earned at least $724,000, up from 10 per cent in 1982.

The growth came as more women have entered the workplace, graduated from universities and experienced a shrinking gender wage gap, said Andrew Heisz, assistant director of the income statistics division of Statistics Canada.

“The fact that women are more often found in the top one per cent of market income recipients would be consistent with all those things,” Heisz said in an interview.

Top earners of both sexes are increasingly receiving their money from wages and salaries compared to the early 1980s when it was more likely to come from owning capital or businesses, the report said.

Although the top one per cent earned about 12 per cent of all income in Canada in 2014, the rich have gotten richer since 1982.

The bottom half of income earners saw their share of total Canadian income decrease 28.4 per cent between 1982 and 2014 while the top one per cent’s share grew 53 per cent.

Similar trends have been seen in many countries, including the United States and Britain, but is less pronounced in high income countries such as Japan, France or Germany.

The Canadian income gap was greatest in its biggest cities. The difference in income between the top one per cent and median tax filers was largest in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

The ratio grew the most in Toronto and Calgary, about doubling over the past three decades.

The report measured activity before the economic downturn in Western Canada caused by weakened commodity prices, including energy.

The wealthiest have seen their share of Canada’s income grow since the Second World War. Over the past 30 years it increased 75 per cent to peak at almost 14 per cent in 2007.

However, that’s still below the levels of the Great Depression.

The top one per cent accounted for about 18 per cent of total income in 1938.

That was followed by an eight percentage point drop over six years during the social and economic upheaval of the war years.

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