Canadians need 33 per cent less pay than Americans to feel rich

Americans say they would need to earn an average salary of $440,000 per year to feel rich, while higher-taxed Canadians feel they could live it up for two-thirds that amount ($296,000), according to the fifth annual ADP Payday Poll. The poll also revealed that more than one third (36 per cent) of Canadians don't even know their annual take-home pay, perhaps explaining our population's more laid-back wealth aspirations.

"While some people think that Canadians and Americans are similar, our feel-rich tipping points tell a different story," says Laura Ramsay, director, marketing, ADP Canada.

Richer Than Our Parents
A slim majority (54 per cent) of Canadians say they are now richer than their parents were at the same age, but this number has declined since 2005, when six in ten (59 per cent) Canadians said they were richer than their parents. Results vary by region:

  • A 20 per cent gap separates the regions that feel richest from those that feel poorest: Atlantic Canadians (69 per cent) and Albertans (68 per cent) are the most likely to say they are richer than their parents were, while only 47 per cent of Quebeckers say the same.
  • Out of all the regions, Ontarians are most likely (20 per cent) to say that they are poorer than their parents were at the same stage of life, with Quebeckers (18 per cent) and those from BC (18 per cent) close behind.

Regardless of wealth aspirations, the majority of Canadians take a decidedly honest approach when it comes to being paid, according to the ADP Payday Poll. Almost nine in ten Canadians (88 per cent) would tell their employer if they were mistakenly overpaid by 50 per cent. That number drops only slightly if they were overpaid by 25 per cent, (87 per cent would come clean) or even 10 per cent (81 per cent would still 'fess up'). There are, however, some notable differences:

  • Atlantic Canadians seem to be the most honest Canadians: fully 95 per cent would come forward if overpaid.
  • Young adults 18-29 are the least likely to report being overpaid: 24 per cent say they would not report a major overage on their pay cheque, though this age group is also the least likely to know their annual take-home pay (35 per cent versus the national average of 58 per cent)

If a co-worker's pay cheque was lying open on his or her desk and no one was around, fewer than one quarter of Canadians (23 per cent) would sneak a peek, and once again, Atlantic Canadians are most likely to do the right thing (just 14 per cent would look). Interestingly, high earners of $100,000 and up are much more likely (26 per cent) to sneak a peek at a colleague's pay cheque than those earning under $15,000 (18 per cent).

Canadians' honest approach to payday continues when it comes to reporting the size of their pay cheque. If they found themselves in a situation where they were about to disclose their salary, three quarters of Canadians (76 per cent) would tell a friend the truth. This number declines slightly in situations involving a future employer (72 per cent) and a colleague (70 per cent). Thirteen per cent admit they would overstate their salary to a future employer.

Your money or your love?
Canadians are discreet about their love lives but the size of their pay cheque has become fair game. According to the ADP Payday Poll, more than half of all Canadians (52 per cent) would discuss how much money they make but only 21 per cent would dish out the intimate details of their love lives.

"Canadians still believe that what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom, but what's printed on their pay stub may no longer be taboo," says Ramsay.

September 12th is ADP Payroll Appreciation Day
While everyone loves payday, few people think about the hardworking professionals who make it happen. That's why ADP has designated September 12th, 2008 as the fifth annual ADP Payroll Appreciation Day. Each week, payroll professionals across the country ensure Canadians are paid on time, every time.

ADP Canada Employer Services (ADP) is the country's leading provider of integrated business solutions that help its clients increase productivity, ensure regulatory compliance, improve employee retention, and control costs. ADP's offerings include traditional, Web-based and comprehensive outsourcing products and services such as payroll, human resources management, time and labour management, occupational health and safety, and consulting services. ADP pays one in five Canadians. For more information about ADP call 1-866-228-9675 or visit