Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada
Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Lesson 8 - Earnings and income

This lesson was written by The Critical Thinking Consortium with editorial input and subject matter expertise from Statistics Canada's Education Outreach Program and Income Statistics Division.


Learners will explore census data to identify changes and trends in earnings and income, as well as the direct and indirect consequences of these trends. They will then develop a report card to assess the impact of trends in earnings and income on various stakeholders.

Suggested grade level and subject areas

Secondary Grades 9 to 12
Social Studies, Civics, Economics, Political Science


Learners will demonstrate:

  • understanding of the changes and trends in earnings and income
  • understanding of the potential impacts of changes and trends in earnings and income on various stakeholder groups.


Classroom instructions

Activity 1: Investigate changes and trends

Begin by instructing learners to examine information from the 2006 Census on earnings and income found in the following article:
The Daily: 2006 Census: Earnings, income and shelter costs

Prompt learners to identify and list notable changes in earnings and income over the past quarter century. Remind learners to focus on changes at this point; they will explore causes and potential consequences in subsequent activities. Possible changes identified by learners might include:

  • increased disparity between the salaries of immigrants and Canadian-born workers
  • increased proportion of incomes resulting from pensions rather than earnings
  • increased median income of female lone parent families.

Distribute a copy of Handout 1: Investigating the change to each learner. Instruct learners to select one of the identified changes as a focus for further investigation and to record their selected change on the top of the chart. Invite learners to locate and record additional statistical information that provides further insight into the change. Additional information can be found at the following site:

Earnings and Incomes of Canadians Over the Past Quarter Century, 2006 Census: Findings

Assess learner responses by using Evaluation rubric 1: Assessing the evidence of change.

Encourage learners to reflect on the various changes by considering which change might have the most significant long-term impacts or by ranking the changes in order of the impacts.

If necessary, review the concept of significance. The significance of a change is determined by the following criteria:

Breadth: How many people are affected by the change, or how widely are its effects felt?
Depth: How major or dramatic is the change?
Duration: For what length of time are the effects of the change felt?

Activity 2: Explore various perspectives

Review the concepts of 'stakeholder' and 'interests' with learners. A stakeholder is a group or person whose interests – rights, values, or wellbeing – may be affected by a situation. For example, when students bring home report cards with poor grades, the potential stakeholders include parents, siblings, teachers and tutors. Each of these groups would have interests in the student’s grades. For example, parents would have an emotional interest in their child as well as a financial interest if additional paid tutoring was required.

Distribute a copy of Handout 2: Inventory of interests to each learner. Guide learners in choosing one of the identified changes in earnings and income to record at the top of the chart (it could be the same change they investigated in Activity 1). Instruct learners to brainstorm a list of groups or individuals who are potential stakeholders in this situation and then to determine what interests each stakeholder might have.

Invite learners to share their identified stakeholders and interests. Prompt reflection by asking questions such as 'Who might be most challenged by such a change?' and 'Why do certain stakeholders benefit more than others?'

Assess learner responses by using Evaluation rubric 2: Assessing stakeholder groups and interests.

Activity 3: Identify consequences

Introduce the concepts of 'direct' and 'indirect' consequences. Direct consequences are the immediate results of a situation. Indirect consequences develop as a result of some other consequence. For example, staining one's shirt with blood and having to change the shirt are indirect consequences of cutting a finger; a direct consequence is the loss of blood. Help learners understand that direct consequences contribute to indirect consequences.

Distribute a copy of Handout 3: Web of consequences to each learner. Guide learners in identifying the direct and indirect consequence of the change they examined in Activity 2 and creating a web of consequences, using the diagram. Remind learners to consider the perspectives and interests of all the key stakeholders. Though the diagram provides space for a specific number of direct and indirect consequences, encourage learners to add more arrows to the web as needed.

Assess learner responses by using Evaluation rubric 3: Assessing the consequences of change.

Invite teams to share the consequences they associated with their selected change. If desired, list all the changes and ask learners to identify consequences common to all changes. Prompt learners to reflect on the potential effects of the changes by posing questions such as 'Which changes and trends might have the most profound short-term consequences for stakeholders? Long-term consequences?'

Activity 4: Assess the consequences

After the learners have examined the direct and indirect consequences of changes in earnings and income, their task will be to create a report card that assesses the consequences of change on various stakeholders.

Organize learners into teams and distribute a copy of Handout 4: Consequences report card to each learner. Instruct teams to select one of the changes associated with earnings and income (identified in Activity 1). Ask students to record at the top of the first chart the key stakeholder groups that would be affected by this change. (Stakeholder groups were identified in Activity 2.) Then direct teams to award grades that accurately reflect the consequences of the change on the economic, social, and political wellbeing of each stakeholder group.

If required, review the different aspects of wellbeing with learners.

  • Economic wellbeing includes how much money people have and how well families are able to meet their needs.
  • Social wellbeing includes crime rates, number of people in the social network and the nature of relationships among people.
  • Political wellbeing includes the amount of political influence people have and their relationship with government.

Remind teams that they must justify the grades they assigned to the impact of the consequences on each stakeholder group. Encourage learners to record their justifications in the second chart, using statistical data whenever possible. Supporting information can be found on the following site:

Earnings and Incomes of Canadians Over the Past Quarter Century, 2006 Census: Findings

Assess learner responses by using Evaluation rubric 4: Assessing the justifications.

Invite teams to share the grades they assigned to the consequences for each stakeholder group. Explore any discrepancies and encourage teams to justify their assessments and to reconsider their grades if necessary. Prompt learners to consider what strategies or measures might address the challenges (identified by lower 'grades') and the opportunities (identified by higher 'grades').

As an extension, learners could use the ideas and information they developed in each of the activities as the basis for writing letters to the editor or to government representatives encouraging actions that address particular challenges and opportunities.