Statistics Canada has published data from the 2021 Census of Population, showing the impact COVID-19 had on the earnings of Canadians in 2020.

“From 2019 to 2020, the average total income of Canadian tax filers overall rose by 5.5 per cent to $54,200. Tax filers in the bottom half of the distribution benefitted from a much larger increase, as their average income grew by 19.2 per cent to $22,100. These increases for the overall and bottom half of the income distribution are tied to the impact of COVID-19 related government transfer programs,” the government statistics agency states, adding that the patterns of income growth were quite different for individuals with the highest reported incomes.

“Canadians with the highest incomes from 2019 to 2020 experienced the largest declines in average income. Average total income of Canadians in the top one per cent of income fell by $5,500 to $512,000. Individuals in the top 0.1 per cent saw average income fall by $67,800, while those in the top 0.01 per cent experienced the largest drop of $506,800 during the same period,” they write.

The report also looks at a breakdown of dividend income alongside changes in wage and salary income. “The pandemic had a strong impact on financial markets in 2020 and this is reflected in large decrease in dividend income from Canadian corporations for tax filers in the high-income groups.”