Income inequality in Canada declines with help from CERB, other pandemic support programs, census data shows

The Star

While COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the labour market, income inequality saw a significant decrease thanks in large part to pandemic support programs — which led to a growth in household after-tax income, according to new census data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

It’s a finding that experts say presents a strong case to implement basic income programs to support low-income households in Canada.

Canadian incomes trended higher in 2020, except in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to StatsCan. The median after-tax household income increased 9.8 per cent to $73,000 in 2020 compared to the previous national survey five years ago, when median household after-tax income grew 4.5 per cent from 2010 to 2015.

Statistics Canada attributes the jump in household income largely to federal government transfers throughout the pandemic, despite fewer Canadians receiving employment income during that time as COVID-19 upended the labour market.

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