Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Wages, salaries and commissions

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: July 13, 2022


Gross wages and salaries before deductions for such items as income taxes, pension plan contributions and employment insurance premiums during the reference period. While other employee remuneration such as security options benefits, board and lodging and other taxable allowances and benefits are included in this source, employer's contributions to pension plans and employment insurance plans are excluded. Other receipts included in this source are military pay and allowances, tips, commissions and cash bonuses associated with paid employment, benefits from wage‑loss replacement plans or income‑maintenance insurance plans, supplementary unemployment benefits from an employer or union, research grants, royalties from a work or invention with no associated expenses and all types of casual earnings during the reference period.

For the 2021 Census, the reference period for income data is the calendar year 2020, unless otherwise specified.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021, 2016 (100% data); 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, refer to Appendix 2.1.

Reported for

Population aged 15 years and over in private households

Question number(s)

Variable derived based on administrative tax and benefit records received from the Canada Revenue Agency.


Positive dollar value or nil


See 'Remarks' under total income.

This variable is a component of employment income. See also income sources.

For more information, please refer to Appendix 2.4 Components of income in 2020.

For the 2021 Census, this concept included remuneration to employees in 2020 funded through government COVID‑19 subsidies programs, such the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

Some employees were eligible for benefits from other COVID-19 – Emergency and recovery benefits, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), etc. in 2020. These benefits were not classified under 'wages and salaries,' but rather under COVID‑19 emergency and recovery benefits as a component of the Government transfers not included elsewhere variable.

For the 2021 Census, wages, salaries and commissions are also available for reference year 2019 in order to provide baseline information to assess the economic impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Income for 2019 is presented in 2020 constant dollars.

For more information about the income sources that are available for reference year 2019, and for additional information about COVID‑19 benefits, data collection method, coverage, reference period, concepts, data quality and intercensal comparability of the income data, please refer to the Income Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.


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