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Annual wages, salaries and commissions of T1 tax filers, 2019

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Released: 2021-03-11

The median annual earnings of Canadian tax filers overall rose at a slower pace in 2019 than a year earlier. Among the provinces, earnings grew at the fastest pace in Quebec, but fell in Ontario and all three Prairie provinces. Earnings rose at a faster pace for women than men.

The median annual wages, salaries and commissions of tax filers rose by 0.5% to $39,920 in 2019. This was a slower pace compared with 2018, when earnings grew by 1.4% (see note to readers), and was consistent with a slowdown in gross domestic product growth from 2018 to 2019. However, these Canada-wide trends mask differences across the provinces and territories, age groups and industries of employment.

Data for 2019 wages, salaries and commissions of tax filers aged 15 and older are now available from the preliminary T1 Family File for various sub-provincial and sub-territorial geographic areas.

While this information does not yet reflect the impacts on wages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it does provide useful insight on the economic well-being of Canadians prior to the pandemic, and can serve as a baseline for measuring the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on various aspects of the economy in the future.

The Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alberta have the highest median wages nationally

The Northwest Territories had the highest annual earnings in 2019 at $53,590—one-third (+36.4%) higher than the national median of $39,290—, followed by Yukon ($49,330) and Alberta ($45,970). These three jurisdictions also had the highest median earnings in 2018.

One characteristic that all three jurisdictions share is a large proportion of working-age Canadians and relatively fewer seniors—the age group with the lowest median earnings. Another common feature of the three is that they are all natural resource rich and employ a larger share of employees in the high-paying mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector.

However, the lower production in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction in 2019 may have contributed to median wages falling at the fastest pace nationally in the Northwest Territories ( -1.9%) and Alberta (-1.1%).

The higher earnings in the Northwest Territories may also be attributable to the large share of wage earners working in public administration (40.8%).

Earnings rise in Nunavut, Quebec and Prince Edward Island

Median annual earnings rose at the fastest pace in Nunavut (+6.6%) in 2019. The earnings growth in Nunavut coincided with several large investments to support natural resource research and development as the territory tries to diversify its economy. In 2019, public administration (46.4%) accounted for almost half of all wage earners in the territory.

Median annual earnings in Quebec rose 2.7% in 2019—more than five times the pace of the national average (+0.5%). The earnings growth was partly attributable to more people working in high wage sectors, such as professional, scientific and technical services; transportation and warehousing; health care and social assistance and construction. The total compensation paid to employees in Quebec rose 4.3% in 2019, while the employment overall increased by 2.0%. In May 2019, the minimum hourly wage rate rose by $0.50 to $12.50.

Atlantic Canada had the lowest median earnings among the provinces in 2019, ranging from $34,030 in Nova Scotia to $30,900 in Prince Edward Island.

About a quarter of the wage earners in Prince Edward Island were aged 24 or younger or aged 65 and older—the age groups with the lowest median earnings and the lowest number of hours worked, which may partly explain the lower earnings. Nevertheless, Prince Edward Island's economy saw significant growth in the number of paid employees (+5.6%) in the smaller but higher-paying goods-producing sectors in 2019, according to the Labour Force Survey. This propelled a 7.4% increase in median earnings among those aged 24 and younger, with more youth working full time, and helped drive the province's median earnings overall to rise at the third-fastest pace nationally in 2019 (+1.4%).

Median annual earnings declined in Manitoba and Saskatchewan for the second consecutive year, falling by 1.0% in both provinces in 2019.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Distribution of wage-earners, by age group and province/territory, 2019
Distribution of wage-earners, by age group and province/territory, 2019

Median earnings rise in every census metropolitan area in Quebec and British Columbia

Median earning rose in 14 of the 35 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) nationally in 2019.

Earnings rose at the fastest pace in all five CMAs in Quebec, ranging from 4.1% in Saguenay to 2.5% in Montréal.

In British Columbia, median earnings rose in all four CMAs, albeit at a much slower pace, ranging from 1.8% in Abbotsford–Mission to 0.4% in Kelowna.

The largest decrease in earnings occurred in St. John's (-2.3% to $41,730), coinciding with lower oil prices. Median annual earnings fell 0.7% in St. Catharines–Niagara, following the strongest gain (+4.0%) among CMAs in 2018.

Median earnings fell in Regina (-2.0%), Edmonton (-1.0%) and Calgary (-0.9%) in 2019 in the wake of continued weakness in the oil and gas sector, which rippled on other services, education services, information and cultural industries, among others.

Ottawa–Gatineau ($47,670), Edmonton ($47,640) and Calgary ($46,250) had the highest median earnings in 2019, followed closely by Regina ($45,710). The earnings growth in Ottawa–Gatineau was concentrated in the Quebec part of the CMA.

Earnings rise for seniors, fall for youth

The median earnings of Canadians aged 25 to 64 rose by approximately 1% in 2019.

Canadians aged 65 to 74 (+3.2% to $13,040) had the largest earnings growth, while those aged 15 to 24 earned on average 0.3% less ($13,170).

The increase in earnings among those aged 65 to 74 was concentrated in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia and was attributable to earnings growth in finance and insurance (+13.9%), transportation and warehousing (+5.3%), business, building and other support services (+5.1%) and real estate and rental and leasing (+4.4%).

The decline among Canadian youth aged 15 to 24 was associated with 1.1% fewer hours worked in 2019, based on average usual hours worked released by the Labour Force Survey.

Those working in utilities earn on average six times more annually than those in accommodation and food services

Canadians working in utilities ($102,250) or the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction ($99,010) sector had the highest annual median earnings from 2017 to 2019. Public administration was a distant third in 2019, at $61,280.

Earnings rose at the fastest pace in business, building and other support services (+4.1%) in 2019, but they remained in the bottom five among sectors, at $31,960.

Median earnings fell at the fastest pace in other services (-0.8% to $32,650) and arts, entertainment and recreation (-0.5% to $17,430).

Those working in accommodation and food services ($16,740) had the lowest median earnings in 2019. Two-fifths of the wage-earners in this sector were aged 15 and 24. This sector has also been among the hardest hit during the pandemic, with employment down 26.2% year over year in December 2020 and average usual hours worked by paid employees down 4.0%.

Earnings for women increased faster than for men in 2019

Earnings rose at a faster pace for women than for men for the second consecutive year (+1.0% for women and +0.1% for men in 2019), but the median annual earnings of women ($33,640) still considerably lagged behind those of men ($46,050). Women earned 73.1% of what men earned in 2019. The gender pay ratio will differ depending upon various factors, including the definition of earnings chosen, whether annual or hourly measures are compared, and whether average or median earnings are compared.

Median earnings for women rose in 9 of 13 provinces and territories. The increases in women's earnings were fairly widespread, but the strongest gains were in Quebec (+3.1%), followed by Yukon (+1.9%), Prince Edward Island (+1.8%), New Brunswick (+1.8%) and British Columbia (+1.8%). The provinces that recorded a decrease in women's annual earnings included Manitoba (-1.1%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-0.9%).

Men's gains in earnings were particularly strong in Nunavut (+10.2%), followed by Quebec (+2.6%) and Prince Edward Island (+1.5%). The Northwest Territories (-3.1%), Alberta (-2.1%) and Saskatchewan (-1.9%) posted the largest decreases.

Improvements to date in the labour market for women were affected by the pandemic. On a year-over-year basis, data from the December 2020 Labour Force Survey show that women are facing different challenges compared with men regarding their work schedule. Some of the industries where women are inclined to work are also affected by the 2020 economic challenges.

  Note to readers

The term "earnings" in the release includes the wages, salaries and commissions declared by tax filers.

This release provides data on the wages, salaries and commissions from all sources received throughout the year for paid employment as reported on T1 Income Tax and Benefit returns. Data for this release are produced using the preliminary version of the T1 Family File which is based on an early version of the T1 file received by Statistics Canada from Canada Revenue Agency.

The extension in the deadlines for filing taxes and for the payment of taxes without penalty granted by the Canada Revenue Agency impacted the completeness of the 2019 preliminary income tax data used in this release. The number of tax filers appearing in the preliminary income tax data, generally speaking individuals who filed taxes before September, edged down by 0.8% in 2019 while the number of tax filers in the preliminary tax file increased on average by 1.3% yearly since 2009. The 2019 decrease was likely due to a number of potential tax filers not yet included in the tax file due to late filings. Therefore, caution should be used with this data when interpreting moderate changes in counts between 2018 and 2019.

These estimates cover all tax filers over the age of 15 (as of December 31 of the tax year) who reported wages, salaries or commissions. This group includes workers employed full- and part-time, as well as full- and part-year. It excludes tax filers that only reported income from self-employment during the year.

Wages, salaries and commissions reported by tax filers on their T1 are based on the employment income recorded on their T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid. In addition to wages, salaries and commissions, this income includes training allowances, tips, gratuities and royalties received from employers during the tax year. Tax-exempt employment income earned by registered Indians is also included. Self-employment income is excluded.

Main industry refers to the two-digit sector assigned to a tax filer using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). An industry is assigned to each tax filer based on the industry which accounted for the highest share of the individuals' total employment income during the tax year over all of his T4 slips. The category "not available" in the main industry table represents tax filers for whom an industry code could not be assigned.

Data on employment, hours worked, weekly earnings and hourly wage rates are from the Labour Force Survey.

The median is the value in the middle of a group of values (i.e. half of people have wages, salaries and commissions above this value and half of people have wages, salaries and commissions below this value).

All figures for previous years are in constant dollars and have been adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, table 18-10-0005-01.

All data in this release have been tabulated according to the 2016 Standard Geographical Classification used for the 2016 Census.

A census metropolitan area (CMA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre (also known as the core). A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000, of which 50,000 or more must live in the core.


The document Technical Reference Guide for the Preliminary Estimates from the T1 Family File (T1FF) (Catalogue number11260001) presents information about the methodology, concepts and data quality for the data available in this release.

Data on Wages, salaries and commissions (11-23-0001, various prices) are now available for Canada, provinces and territories, economic regions, census divisions, census metropolitan areas, census agglomerations, census tracts, and postal-based geographies. These custom services are available upon request. Tables 11-10-0072 and 11-10-0073 for this release are available for free on the Statistics Canada website for Canada, province and territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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