In 2023, the average worker in Canada earned $1,205 each week. When we take inflation into account, this is only an increase of $39 per week since 2013. This trend varies greatly depending on the industry you work in. Workers in the mining industry currently have the highest average weekly wage but have seen the biggest decrease in their inflation-adjusted (or real) wages since 2013. Table of real change of workers' wages adjusted for inflation

Workers in finance and insurance have seen substantial real wage gains of $164 per week since 2013. In stark contrast, education workers have faced significant losses, with real wages decreasing by $74 per week over the same period.  

When we examine education sector wage trends across the country over the past decade, we see that real wages have fallen in six provinces and stayed flat in British Columbia. Only Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Manitoba have had any real wage increase. Education workers in Saskatchewan have had the largest real wage cut, losing $190 per week when we take inflation into account. They went from having the fourth highest average weekly wage among education workers across all provinces in 2013 to the lowest average weekly wage in 2023. 

Although education workers have been especially impacted by a loss in real wages over the past 10 years, other CUPE sectors have also experienced losses, stagnation and minimal growth. Public sector worker wages in general have been deeply affected by provincial austerity measures. 

It is also important to note that the overall percentage increase in inflation might not reflect your reality. For example, the cost of housing and food has increased faster than overall inflation. If these items make up a larger part of your expenses than the average household, that means inflation has affected you even more. 

CUPE members must be aware of real wage trends to understand the full impact of inflation on our earnings. Collective action and bargaining are essential to address these disparities and ensure fair wages for all workers. You can use CUPE’s inflation calculator to see how inflation is affecting your wages in real time.