Canada has failed to reduce persistent racism in the labour market: Report

December 9, 2019

TORONTO & OTTAWA — Despite an increasingly diverse population, a new report released today reveals that little-to-no progress has been made towards reducing racism in labour market outcomes.  

Canada’s Colour Coded Income Inequality, released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, uses 2016 Census data to compare work and income trends among racialized and non-racialized Canadians. Overall, the report finds significant barriers remain entrenched along racial and gender lines, with little change between 2006-16. 

“The data point to a clear pattern of racialized economic inequality in Canada,” said report co-author and CCPA senior economist Sheila Block. “Employment and income gaps remain firmly in place, as does pervasive discrimination faced by racialized women.” 

Racialized women earned just $0.59 for every dollar non-racialized men did, while racialized men earned $0.78 compared to non-racialized workers, according to the study.

The paper also looks beyond the labour market more broadly at economic inequality including differences in income from investments and capital between racialized and non-racialized Canadians.

“In the absence of bold new policies to combat systemic racism and to advance equity in employment, these trends show no signs of improving,” added study co-author Grace-Edward Galabuzi, professor in the department of politics and public administration at Ryerson University. 

Among the study’s findings: 

  • Racialized workers are more likely to be active in the workforce, either working or trying to find work, but face a 9.2% unemployment rate compared to 7.3% for non-racialized workers;
  • Labour market outcomes are worse for racialized immigrants. Racialized immigrant men and women earned $0.71 and $0.79, respectively, for every dollar earned by non-racialized immigrant men and women. This income gap extends beyond the second generation;
  • The racialized gap in capital gains is clear: 8% of the racialized population reported capital gains, compared to 12% of the non-racialized population. The average amount of capital gains of non-racialized Canadians is 29% higher than racialized Canadians;
  • Investment income shows a similar pattern: 25% of the racialized population reported investment income, compared to 31% of the non-racialized population. Average investment income for the non-racialized population is 47% higher than the racialized population;
  • Different racialized groups face distinct barriers in the labour market. Men and women who identified as Black, for example, had higher labour force participation rates than their non-racialized counterparts, but also had bigger wage gaps than the average for racialized workers. 

“Labour market discrimination has many facets, which need to be better understood so that anti-racism policies can become more effective,” said study co-author and CCPA senior researcher Ricardo Tranjan. “We are witnessing the results of decades and decades of policies that have supported some communities while neglecting or marginalizing others. That has to change.” 


Canada’s Colour Coded Income Inequality is be available for download on the CCPA website. For more information or to arrange interviews contact: Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Media and Public Relations Officer, at 613-563-1341 x 307, cell 343-998-7575 or [email protected].

The CCPA is an independent, non-profit charitable research institute founded in 1980.