Wages, race and sex

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What is this metric and why is it important?

Wages are the financial compensation one receives for work. While wages, not unreasonably, differ by occupation, sector, region, and other variables, they also differ across racial identities. Black, Indigenous, and people of colour face substantial wage gaps due to discrimination in hiring and compensation practices. Here we look at median and mean wages, disaggregated by racial identities. 

How is Canada doing?

  • In 2016 Black people had the lowest wages of any visible minority, at $35,580, which is $13,386 less than “non-visible minorities.”
  • People who identify as Black, Korean, West Asian, Southeast Asian, Latin American, Fillipino, and Arab all make at least $10,000 less than non-visible minorities.
  • Indigenous peoples received average wages of $37,188, while non-Indigenous people received $47,537.
  • Women make less across the board, on average making $18,000 less per year. 

Metric discussion

Data on wages by racial identity comes from the 2016 Census. Wages are defined as “the gross pay before tax that is paid to employees in cash or in kind, for work performed under the general direction of an employer.” Statistics Canada refers to all racial identities, excluding Indigenous people, as “visible minorities.” Those who do not identify as visible minorities include those who identify as White, those who identify as White and another identity, and Indigenous peoples.


The aggregation of different groups into the category of “not a visible minority” makes certain comparisons difficult. Additionally, the lack of a distinct category for those who identify as “White” or “Caucasian” impairs analysis.

© Inclusive Innovation Monitor 2021