A new analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) – Losing Ground Income Inequality in Ontario, 2000-15 describes an increasingly “polarized” Ontario labour market that is shifting away from stable manufacturing jobs to more precarious service sector work and rewarding higher-earning families while punishing poorer ones.
The report examines 15 years of income inequality for families raising
children in Ontario (2000 to 2015), comparing it with national data for context,
and finds several disturbing trends.
The data reveal that the top half of Ontario families take home 81 per
cent of earnings; the bottom half of families take home only 19 per cent.
What’s more, the richest families in Ontario earned almost 200 per cent of
the average family’s earnings in 2013–15.
It is a story of sustained labour market income inequality that is being
driven by slow economic growth and increases in precarious work. Simply
put, lower–middle class and working poor families are losing ground.
The Ontario data show a drop in the share of earnings for families in the
bottom half, falling from 22 per cent in 2000–02 to 19 per cent in 2013–15.
That income shifted from the bottom half to the top half of the income distribution:
the top half’s share of earnings rose from 78 per cent in 2000–02
to 81 per cent in 2013–15.
On a national level, the story of income inequality among Canadian families
hasn’t changed much since 2000. The lion’s share of earnings goes to
the richest families, at the expense of the rest. Nationally, families in the
bottom half of the earnings distribution saw their share of earnings flatline
at 21 per cent between 2000–02 and 2013–15.
Dynamics within the labour market are at issue. The experience since the turn of the century clearly indicates that Ontario needs a raise. And that proposed changes to labour market rules in the province’s Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017)—which among other crucial reforms would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by January 2019—are long overdue.
It’s about fairness. It’s about changing labour laws to reflect a seismic
shift in Ontario’s labour market. It’s about requiring employers to do their
part to reduce labour market inequality.