When the Middle Class Aren’t

by Ericka Stephens-Rennie

If someone asked you where you’d place yourself on the income spectrum from low to middle to high, what would you say? The reality is that most of us – most of the readers of this blog, and most people in Canada would likely say, “middle.” Perhaps all of us would. In countries like ours, almost everyone – except for the poorest of the poor or the richest of the rich – places themselves in the middle.

We all identify as “the middle class.”

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that most of the election promises are targeted towards “the middle class.” From income-splitting and tax credits for the arts or for volunteer firefighters, to incentives for Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) contributions, and increases in the amount individuals can save in their tax-free savings accounts, it’s all for “the middle class” – it’s all for us.

But is it really? Is it really for the middle class?

Or maybe the question is, are we really the middle class?

Because, let’s be honest, we can’t all be the middle class. Since we know with certainty that we don’t all have exactly the same income, we know that there’s a distribution. Somebody is – or, rather, some people are – poorer than me, and some people are richer than me.

But I’m in the middle.



The average annual income of individuals in Canada is about $31,000. The median annual income (i.e. the income exactly in the middle) is about $25,500.

Do you earn more than this?

Yes? Well then, hello big spender! You – yes you, big spender – are who many of the election promises announced thus far will benefit.

You who’s married to a partner who makes greater than $90,000 could save $1300 each year with income splitting.

You parents who can afford arts programs for a child can receive $500 back in tax credits.

You who can afford to have an investment banker can benefit from $1000 annually in matching funding for contributing to RESPs.

You who have an extra $5000 available each year can benefit from an increased threshold for the tax-free savings account.

And maybe this is you.

Maybe you can benefit from programs like these. But let’s be honest about one thing. If you can benefit from such programs then


Are not

The middle class.

Hey big spender. How are you going to vote?

Ericka Stephens-Rennie

5 Responses to “When the Middle Class Aren’t”

  1. shallowfrozenwater

    i most certainly do not qualify as middle class then. i try to vote for those that will help the poor and for the last several elections that has meant that i have voted on the left. i have an orange sign on my yard.

  2. Scott

    Nice one Ericka! I actually, kind of ashamedly now, thought that I was middle class. Its funny how we can catch ourselves out on things like this. Or maybe its funny for me that I just caught myself out on this! Anyway, thanks! More fuel for thought!

  3. andrew

    It’s incredible how many appeals for votes are to “Ordinary Canadians,” and the Middle Class and how this relies on our own false assumption of who we are.

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