There has been plenty of concern in Canada and around the world about income inequality, in particular the growing gap between the incomes of society’s highest-paid 10% or 1% and those of the bottom 90% of income earners. We spend less time thinking about inequality in relative wealth or net worth — the sum of all individual or family assets (house, car, investments, etc.) minus all debts (mortgage, student loan, etc.). In fact, income inequality and wealth inequality are closely connected; our failure to adequately address the growing gap in average incomes is producing outrageous fortunes among Canada’s wealthiest family dynasties.
This report compares the net worth of Canada’s 87 wealthiest resident families as compiled by Canadian Business magazine to the wealth of average families based on Statistics Canada’s Survey of Financial Security over the past 17 years.We find that while the average net worth of Canada’s wealthiest families rose by 37% between 2012 and 2016 — from $2.2 billion to $3.0 billion, for a gain of $806 million in inflation-adjusted dollars per family — the net worth of middle class families increased by 16%, or $41,000, over the same period (from $264,000 to $305,000).