Quebec earnings gap at 30-year high

May 19, 2010

MONTREAL – A groundbreaking new report shows the earnings gap between the rich and the rest of Quebeckers is at a 30-year high and poised to worsen due to recession.

The report, co-published by Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-economiques (IRIS) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), looks at income inequality among Quebec families raising children under the age of 18.

It finds income inequality got worse between 1976 and 2006 – in fact, 70% of Quebec families are earning a smaller share of the income pie than a generation ago.

“Quebeckers worked more and the province’s economy grew by 71% during this period but not all Quebec families enjoyed the benefits,” says IRIS co-author Bertrand Schepper. “The lion’s share of income gains went to the richest 10%, while the majority of Quebec families – the bottom 70% -- ended up with a smaller share of the income pie.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Quebec families are working on average 321 hours more a year since 1996, which is the equivalent of an extra eight weeks of full-time work.
  • Most increased work time was accrued by families in the bottom 50% of the income spectrum but they’re earning less than their counterparts a generation ago.
  • The richest decile of Quebec’s families earn more today than a generation ago, without having to put in more time at the workplace. The further up the income ladder you go, the more striking the gains.

“The good news is that state’s intervention is helping to lessen these inequalities,” says IRIS co-author Eve-Lyne Couturier. “The bad news is recent policies by the Quebec government threaten to make the problem worse.”

Who is Getting  Richer, Who  is  Getting  Poorer in Quebec 1976-2006 is available at and

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For more information please contact: Simon Tremblay-Pepin,  IRIS researcher and communication coordinator, (514) 814-1522.