OTTAWA - Canadian families pay more in personal taxes than they do on either shelter or food, and spend more on their pets than they do on child care, according to Statistics Canada's latest annual report on household expenditures.
Despite the tax-cut boasts of governments, Canadian families paid 6% more on average in personal income taxes last year, which remained the single largest expense for families, even ahead of housing.
In total, households spent an average of $69,950 in 2007, up 3.3% from 2006, Statistics Canada said yesterday in its report on family expenditures, noting that the increase was also more than a full percentage point above the 2.2% increase in the cost of living last year.
Among major expenditures, however, it was personal taxes that posted the steepest increase, rising to an average of $14,450. As a result, taxes ate up 20.6% of the average family budget, up from 20.1% in 2006, and reversing a generally downward trend from a record high of 21.9% in 1996.
There was little change in the share of spending that went on major expenditures other than taxes and to a lesser extent shelter, said Statistics Canada analyst Bradley Snider.
The report, however, showed that pet expenses rose by nearly 10% to an average $432 per household, exceeding the average $330 in child-care expenses per household, which was up by just $1 or 0.3%.
Average pet expenses have exceeded child-care expenses for some time, noted Mr. Snider, explaining that re-flects the fact that a greater proportion of households have pet expenses than have child care expenses, boosting the overall average.
If limited to households with child-care expenses, the average spent is $3,060, while for those with pet expenses the average is just $800.
"But you could say that collectively as a society we do spend more" on pets than on child care, Mr. Snider added.
Households also spent an average of $9,400 on transportation, up just 1.7%, as an increase in spending on gasoline was offset by a decline in spending on auto purchases, it said. In addition, they spent an average of $7,310 on food, up 3.7%, which -- though modest compared to the increases in other major expenditures -- was the steepest rise in food expenditures in half a decade.
Households in Alberta spent the most on average last year, at $85,910, but Statistics Canada noted that was only an 0.8% increase from 2006, the smallest among the provinces, while next door, spending by families in Saskatchewan rose 7.7% to $63,940, the fastest rate of growth.
Households in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, on average, spent the least.
But how much a family spends, and on what and what proportion of their budget it eats up varied widely by income.
For example, the one-fifth of households with the lowest income spent an average of $22,340 in 2007 on the basics of food, shelter and clothing, which accounted for 52% of their total spending, while personal taxes, at $577, accounted for a mere 3%.
In contrast, the top fifth of households spent an average of $143,360 on the basics of food, shelter and clothing, which, however, was just 28 of their family budget, while personal taxes, at $41,895, accounted for 29% of their total spending.