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Survey of Household Spending, 2014

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Released: 2016-02-12

Canadian households spent an average of $59,055 on goods and services in 2014, little changed from $58,576 in 2013.

Spending on shelter accounted for 29.1% of this total, up from 27.9% a year earlier. Transportation (20.1%) and food (13.7%) accounted for virtually the same shares of consumption as in 2013.

Provincially, households in Alberta reported the highest average spending on goods and services at $71,211, followed by households in Saskatchewan ($62,287), Ontario ($61,660) and British Columbia ($60,931). Households in Quebec reported the lowest average spending at $50,657.

On average, couples with children spent $83,440 on goods and services in 2014. One-person households headed by a senior aged 65 years and older reported the lowest average spending of all household types at $26,937.


Households spent an average of $17,160 on shelter in 2014, up 4.9% from 2013. This category includes rent, mortgage payments, repairs and maintenance costs, property taxes and utilities.

Among homeowners, average spending on shelter was $19,501 in 2014, accounting for 28.6% of their total spending on goods and services. Renters spent an average of $12,507 on shelter, representing 30.4% of their total consumption.

Households in Ontario allocated the largest share of consumption to shelter (31.5%) among the provinces, while households in Newfoundland and Labrador allocated the smallest proportion (22.7%).

Households in Alberta reported the highest average spending on shelter at $20,676, while New Brunswick households averaged the lowest at $12,311.

Spending on shelter was highest among households in population centres of 1 million or more at $19,475. By comparison, those in rural areas spent an average of $14,242.


Canadian households spent an average of $11,891 on transportation in 2014. By far the largest portion, $10,717, went for private transportation (which includes spending on the purchase of cars, trucks and vans, as well as their operating costs). The remainder went to public transportation (which covers spending on public transit, taxis, intercity buses, trains and air fares).

Provincially, the proportion of household spending dedicated to transportation was highest in both Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick, at 23.9%, followed by Prince Edward Island (23.1%). Transportation costs made up the smallest share of household spending in British Columbia (18.9%).

Households in rural areas allocated 23.3% of their total spending on goods and services to transportation, while households in the largest population centres (population of 1 million or more) spent 19.2% of their total consumption on transportation.


On average, households spent $8,109 on food in 2014, accounting for 13.7% of their total spending on goods and services. Households spent an average of $5,880 on food purchased from stores, and an average of $2,229 on food purchased from restaurants.

Households in Alberta reported the highest average spending on food at $8,740, while households in Prince Edward Island spent the lowest average amount at $7,388.

Couples with children reported the highest average spending on both food purchased from stores ($8,720) and food purchased from restaurants ($3,204). The lowest average spending on food purchased from stores was reported by one-person households at $3,295. One-person households headed by a senior aged 65 years and older spent the lowest average amount on food purchased from restaurants at $783.

Health care

Households spent an average of $2,251 on out-of-pocket health care expenses in 2014, or 3.8% of their total consumption. This included spending on private health insurance premiums and health care costs (for example, prescription and non-prescription medications, eye wear and dental care) not reimbursed by a public or private health care plan.

The proportion of spending allocated to health care increased with age. Households headed by a senior aged 65 years and older spent 6.1% of their goods and services budget on health care, compared with 2.8% for households headed by someone under 30 years old.


Average household spending on communications rose 5.0% to $2,096 in 2014. This category includes items such as cell phone and land line services as well as Internet access services.

In 2014, 23.7% of households reported having only a cell phone and no land line, compared with 20.2% of households in 2013. Ownership of at least one cell phone was reported by 85.6% of households. Cell phone ownership was highest in Alberta (91.4%) and lowest in Quebec (79.1%).

Home Internet access was reported by 84.9% of Canadian households. It was most prevalent in Alberta (90.2%) and British Columbia (89.9%), and least common in Quebec (79.3%) and New Brunswick (80.7%).

Cable was the most popular method of Internet connection, used by 39.4% of all households in 2014. High-speed telephone connections were used by 25.8% of households and wireless connections were used by 16.6% of households.

Average total expenditures

On average, households reported total expenditures of $80,727 in 2014, up slightly (+2.1%) from 2013. The average spending on goods and services of $59,055 represented 73.2% of total expenditure. Income taxes, pension contributions, employment and life insurance premiums, gifts of money, support payments and charitable contributions accounted for the remaining 26.8%.

Distributing the population into five equal income groups, or quintiles, allows for a comparison of spending between different household income levels. The 20% of households with the lowest income spent an average of $31,974 in 2014. Of this total, 51.2% was allocated to shelter, food, and clothing and accessories. Income taxes accounted for 1.3% of their total expenditure.

In contrast, average spending among the 20% of households with the highest income was $161,771. These households spent 28.5% of their budgets on shelter, food, and clothing and accessories, while 29.4% went toward income taxes.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Shares of total expenditure by income quintile, 2014
Shares of total expenditure by income quintile, 2014

  Note to readers

This release is based on data from the 2014 Survey of Household Spending (SHS), which gathered detailed information from a sample of over 17,100 households.

Average spending for a specific good or service is calculated for all households, including those with and those without expenditures for the category. Average spending includes sales taxes.

Total current consumption refers to the sum of the expenditures for food, shelter, household operations, household furnishings and equipment, clothing and accessories, transportation, health care, personal care, recreation, education, reading materials and other printed matter, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, games of chance and miscellaneous expenditures.

Total expenditure refers to the sum of total current consumption, income taxes, personal insurance payments and pension contributions, as well as gifts of money, support payments and charitable contributions.

The survey methodology combines a questionnaire with recall periods based on the type of expenditure item and a diary of daily expenses that selected households complete over the two weeks following an interview. The diary provides more detailed information, particularly for spending on food and other frequent purchases.

In 2014, the sample size for the expenditure diary was 50% of the total sample.

The 2014 SHS uses survey weights that take into account new population projections from the 2011 Census. To make these estimates comparable over time, data from the 2013 SHS were reweighted using 2011 Census weights. Estimates from 2010 to 2012 will be reweighted in the near future. When comparing estimates across time, users should ensure that the weights used for each year are based on the same census population projections.

Comparisons of spending between years have not been adjusted for inflation.


Summary tables are also now available from the Summary tables module of our website.

The report "User Guide for the Survey of Household Spending, 2014," now available as part of the Household Expenditures Research Paper Series (Catalogue number62F0026M), presents information about the survey methodology, concepts and data quality. From the Browse by key resource module of our website, choose Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Naoko Hawkins (613-222-9665;, Income Statistics Division.

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