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The Average Canadian

1 July 2012

Happy Canada Day!

It’s of course, our nation’s birthday today. And as everyone is waving their flags, donning their red-and-whites, and sipping beer at BBQs and festivals, we turn our attention to a recent article done by the Canadian magazine Macleans. The article, “How Canadian are You?” gathers together statistics regarding what the average Canadian spends a year, and on what, along with some other interesting stats – such as the fact that the average Canadian man is 5’9″, weighs 185 lbs., and earns a salary of around $30,000 a year. So, how do you measure up to the average Canadian?

Some general facts:

  • The average Canadian family brings in a total income of $68,000 a year.
  • They spend an average of $450 a month on groceries and $250 on utilities.
  • The average Canadian spends $172 a month on restaurants; and $52 a month on their cell phone.

As for the wealthiest province, that goes to Alberta, where the average family brings in $83,000 but spends most of that – $73,000. Money spent on food, restaurants, and gambling is also the highest in this province; and that might be why Calgary mortgages and Edmonton mortgages are the second-highest in the country, after only B.C., where household debt accounts for $160,000. The majority of people pay those mortgages, too; Alberta has the second-highest proportion of homeowners after Quebec. Homeowners in Quebec also pay the least for their homes on average, having only $86,000 in average household debt.

At the other end of the spectrum is Atlantic Canada, where provinces have the lowest earnings of all and also spend the least. However, these Canadians also know how to spend their money where it’s most needed – less than 50 per cent of homeowners here have mortgages.

And of course, we can’t take financial averages without talking about the amount of all that debt we’re continually taking on.

According to a recent Bank of Montreal report, Canadians currently spend on average $1,140 a month on household debt that includes mortgages, personal loans, and credit cards. Those who have just started making mortgage payments this year will feel it the most. In B.C. that number will rise to $2,240 while in P.E.I. it falls to $626.

So with rising debt, and mortgage debt at an all-time high, why do we feel so positive about ourselves and how our economy is doing? Again, it’s just a matter of comparing ourselves to the wrong people and the wrong countries; and thinking that just because we’re doing slightly better, we have no reason to worry.

“We have a pretty positive self-image of ourselves, it’s almost bordering on narcissistic,” says Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies. “The more things we hear about ourselves, the more it reflects on our own sense of self worth.”

What do you think about the average Canadian? Are you doing just slightly better, or just slightly worse, than them?

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