Back to top

7. Canada & Provinces


7.1 Demography by Age, Language and Educational Attainment

In 2016, almost two-thirds of Canadians aged 25 and older reported having at least some postsecondary education. 34.2% indicated that they had received a certificate or diploma, while 18.5% reported a Baccalaureate and 9.2% reported a graduate degree.

7.2 Economic Inequality

Median after-tax family income in 2014 was $75,700. The top 20% of income-earning families (households with incomes of $119,701 or greater) received 40% of all total after-tax family income. The bottom 20% (households with incomes of $44,600 or less) received just over 7%. Over 1982-2014, the top 1% of Canadian taxfilers witnessed their share of after-tax income (including capital gains) grow from 6.3% to 9.9%, with their average income growing by 96.1% (in constant dollars) over this period to $391,700. By contrast, half of Canadian taxfilers – those earning below the threshold of $30,000 – saw their share of after-tax income decline from 20.3% to 19.1% over the same period.

7.3 Population by Age

Canada’s population continues to age, although the proportion of Canadians aged 18-24 remains fairly constant, at 9.2% in Julyy 2016. The proportion of Canadians aged 65+ continues to edge up year after year, reaching 16.5% in July 2016. The median age of the population is rising slowly, at 40.6 years in 2016, ranging from a high of 45.3 years in Newfoundland and Labrador to a low of 36.3 in Alberta across the provinces.

7.4 Selected Economic Indicators

National GDP growth in Canada slowed to 0.9% in 2015, driven primarily by a large contraction of --3.6% in Alberta. Provincial GDP also shrank in Newfoundland (-2.0%) and Saskatchewan (-1.3%). Conversely, there was relatively strong GDP in British Columbia (3.3%) and Ontario (2.5%), with New Brunswick and Manitoba reporting growth of 2.3% and 2.2% respectively. Per capita income in Canada was $34,416 in 20143. The lowest income per capita ($29,679) continues to be found in New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island has the second lowest rate ($30,158), followed by Manitoba ($30,370). Elsewhere, per capita income ranged from $31,536 in Nova Scotia to $35,991 in Saskatchewan before jumping to a high of $43,174 in Alberta. 30.3% of working Canadians were members of a union bargaining unit in 2016, down slightly from 30.6% in 2015. Union densities increased in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia (by 1.4, 0.2 and 0.1 percentage points respectively), while falling in other provinces, the greatest decline occurring in Prince Edward Island (-2.6 percentage points). Over the past five years, public sector unions have retained and even increased public sector union density, rising from 75.0% in 2012 to 76.3% in 2016, while union density has steadily declined for workers in the private sector, dropping from 17.5% in 2012 to 16.1% in 2016.

7.5 Educational Attainment of Population, Aged 25+, 2016

A clear majority of the population aged 25 and older in every province had attained at least a post-secondary certificate or diploma in 2016, ranging from a low of 55.8% in New Brunswick to a high of 63.6% in Alberta. The proportion of the adult population with a university undergraduate or graduate degree varied considerably more, from a low of 15.8% in Newfoundland to a high of 31.0% in Ontario.

7.6 Labour Force Estimates by Educational Attainment, Aged 25+, 2016

The unemployment rate in 2016 was 5.6% for those with a postsecondary certificate or diploma, 4.6% for those with an undergraduate degree and 4.9% for those with a graduate degree. For the overall population, the rate was 6.0%.

7.7 Educational Attainment of Population, Ages 25-64, 2016 Selected OECD Countries

Canada’s population is very well-educated when compared to citizens of other OECD countries. In fact, at 62%, Canada leads all OECD countries in the proportion of its population that has successfully attained a college or university education by a significant margin.


7.1 University Graduates as a Share of the Full-time Workforce Aged 25-54

A university education at the undergraduate and graduate program levels is increasingly a prerequisite to full-time employment. In 2001, 16% of the core full-time workforce aged 25 to 54 had an undergraduate credential and 7.5% held a graduate degree. By 2016, 24.1% of this group had an undergraduate education and 11.4% were graduate degree holders.