OTTAWA — "Canada is moving in the wrong direction and
must address its extreme and growing income inequality, according to a
new discussion paper from the Broadbent Institute.
The paper, released to Postmedia News on Monday,
argues that developing a comprehensive policy agenda — which could
include affordable housing, improvements to Employment Insurance, “fair”
taxes and a national prescription drug program — is needed to address
What’s concerning is that inequality is getting worse
instead of better, and while Canada has the financial means to turn
this around, those steps aren’t being taken, said former NDP leader Ed
Broadbent, the founder of the left-leaning institute.
“We’ve had this policy of slashing taxes, and
particularly disproportionately, slashing the taxes of the rich. It’s
time we reverse this,” Broadbent said.
“It’s not as if we don’t have the wealth, but it’s the distribution of the wealth that really matters.”
Income inequality, sometimes known as the shrinking
of the middle class, occurs when there is a large polarization between
the top and the bottom of society in terms of their share of economic
resources, according the institute.
The Conference Board of Canada and the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development have both recently pointed out
that Canada is becoming more unequal, more quickly than most other
countries in the OECD, Broadbent said.
For instance, the Conference Board of Canada reported
in 2011 that, between the mid-1990s and the late 2000s, Canada had the
fourth-largest increase in income inequality out of 17 peer countries.
Canada was ranked 12th out of those countries, a slip to “below the
One of the effects of this is that there’s less
upward mobility, Broadbent said, adding that there’s “overwhelming”
evidence that an unequal society decreases the opportunity for climbing."