Canada’s richest 1% grabbed 10.6% of all income, rich-poor gap widened: StatsCan

by Obert Madondo The Canadian Progressive, Jan. 28, 2013:

Occupied Ottawa ProtestRemember Occupy, Canada? A new Statistics Canada analysis of income trends among Canadian taxfilers from 1982 to 2010, released today, confirms three of the many concerns Occupy protesters expressed in late 2011. Concerns relating to income inequality, poverty, corporate greed, etc.

First, members of the exclusive club of the top one per cent of Canada’s 25.5 million tax filers have a monopoly on the nation’s total income. In 2010, they grabbed 10.6 per cent of it. That’s up from the 7.0% they claimed in the 1980s.

Contemplating becoming a member of the 1% club? It’ll cost you. To qualify for membership, you must take home at least $201,400. Your changes also improve if you’re a man, media age 51. However, once you make it into this club, chances are you’ll stay there.

Second, the gap between the one per cent and the rest of us continues to widen. StatsCan’s analysis of the median income, for example. In 1982, the median income of the 1 per cent was $191,600, and that of the 99 per cent was $28,000. By 2010, the median income of the one per cent had risen to $283,400, and that of the 99 percent increased by only $400, to $28,400.

recent sweeping analysis by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) confirms that the gap between Canada’s rich and the poor is growing. In 2008, the average income of the top 10 per cent of Canadians was $103,500. That’s 10 times the average of the bottom 10 per cent, whose income averaged $10,260.

Through the report “The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all“, Oxfam International has warned that extreme wealth and income is “not only unethical it is also economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive and environmentally destructive.”

A few stats from may help to explain how wealth and income inequalities are hurting us already:

  • more than 3.5 million Canadian live in poverty. In fact, poverty is increasing for youth, workers, young families and immigrants and people of colour in this country. Poverty in Aboriginal groups remains appallingly high, both on and off reserve
  • one in ten children is poor
  • Canada’s child poverty rate of 15 percent is three times as high as the rates of Sweden, Norway or Finland.
  • every month, 770,000 people in Canada use food banks. Forty percent of those relying on food banks are children. These statistics point to a betrayal of Canada’s children.

Last March, a report by the Vanier Institute for the Family warned that, for many families in Canada, income security is an elusive dream. The report, The Current State of Canadian Family Finances, shows that income inequality is increasing. Canadian families continue to struggle with their overall debt load, which averages $103 000 per family. And seniors are either staying in the workforce longer, or returning to work after retirement to make up pension shortfalls.

Third, jobs cuts. The StatsCan report says that the income of top filers in recent years increasingly dependent on their jobs. Rather  than on investments. And yet, thousands of Canadians are currently either job cuts or dwindling employment prospects. Not long ago, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warned that the cuts will slash 60 000 jobs. This report: The cuts behind the curtain: How federal cutbacks will slash services and increase unemployment. As of November last years, the Harper government had cut 10,980 jobs as part of its bid to balance the budget.

Last October, Green Party leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, Elizabeth May, called for a guaranteed livable income in Canada. It’s time we seriously consider this proposal.

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.