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New Census Data Shows Canadians Get Paid A Lot Less Based On the Colour of Their Skin

Racialized workers in Canada are paid only 80 cents for every dollar white workers are paid

New data from Statistics Canada provides new evidence racial discrimination is having a big impact on how much Canadians get paid.

The newly released information on income and “visible minorities,” defined by Statistics Canada as racialized people who are neither Indidgenous nor white, was collected by the federal agency during the 2016 Canadian census.

Overall, the new data shows the median employment income of non-racialized persons in Canada was $35,299 in 2016 while racialized persons made $28,504 – a difference of $6,795 per year.

Counted another way, racialized workers are paid only 80 cents for every dollar white workers are paid.


The gap is more pronounced when gender is taken into account.

Canada’s 2016 census reveals the median employment income for racialized men was $32,589 while white men made nearly ten thousand dollars more at $42,003.

In other words, racialized men make 77 cents for every dollar paid to white men.

At $29,635, white women make nearly twelve thousand dollars less than white men, but they also make five thousand dollars more than racialized women, whose median employment income works out to $24,990 – that’s 84 cents for every dollar paid to white women in Canada.

The new census data also reveals racialized women make 59 cents for every dollar white men in Canada are paid.


While data from previous censuses have shown a significant pay gap for racialized Canadians, the new census data shows the gap persists even after accounting for age or immigration.

Broadbent Institute senior policy adviser Andrew Jackson suggests the new data shows systemic racial discrimination underlies this inequality in pay:

These data and further releases from Statistics Canada need to be analyzed much more closely to look at levels and trends in pay differences by racialized status. But the fact that these differences persist among second generation Canadians suggests that there is indeed significant discrimination in pay and employment.

And that inequality is impacting some communities more than others.

The data also shows West Asian, Black and Chinese Canadians are the most likely groups to be impacted by racial income differences.

Overall, one-in-five racialized persons in Canada (20.8%) lives below the low-income rate compared to one-in-ten non-racialized persons (12.2%), however, one-third of West Asians (34.7%), and nearly a quarter of Blacks (23.9%) and Chinese Canadians (23.4%) find themselves living below the low-income line.

Editor’s note: this post has been updated to correct a miscalculated figure noting differences in pay.


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