Wealth Inequality in Canada: A shocking study from the Broadbent Institute

Wealth Inequality in Canada: A shocking study from the Broadbent Institute that is hard to swallow.

What Canadians think is the wealthy inequality in Canada is so wrong! Our healthy middle class does not exist and things are dire for the bottom 20% of income earners.

70% of wealth is owned by the top 20% Canadian Income Earners. The bottom 20% own less than 1% of the wealth. The bottom 10% own no assets – only debts.


Hunger Awareness Week: Who Do You Think Uses the Food Bank?

May 5th-9th is Hunger Awareness Week in Canada

The 2008 recession may have hit six years ago, but Ontarians are still dealing with the aftermath. Full time jobs with benefits are merely a dream for thousands of Ontarians who are carrying the burden of a downtrodden economy. While salaries decrease, the cost of housing, hydro bills, childcare, and food are on the rise. The media and our governments may proclaim our economy is on the mend, but the people visiting food banks today paint a much different picture.

Food bank use in Ontario hit an all time high in March 2012, when 412,998 individuals relied on support from their local food bank during that month alone. Numbers have decreased slightly since, but food banks in this province are struggling to keep up with demand. Factory closures, company downsizing, and depletions of personal savings are leading many who once considered themselves middle-class Canadians, to turn to social support services to make ends meet.


The traditional idea of who uses a food bank is a myth. There are no traditional food bank clients. In fact, the largest group of individuals accessing food banks are children. Close to 40 per cent of food bank clients in this province are boys and girls under the age of 18.


Would you guess that two of the fastest growing groups of food bank users are senior citizens over the age of 65, and current post-secondary students and recent graduates? Did you know that there is a food bank or emergency food support program on almost every university and college campus in the province?


Hunger is a symptom of poverty. Food banks in our provincial network understand this, and are working tirelessly every day to alleviate poverty in their communities. By planting and tending to community gardens, lobbying their MPPs for raises to social assistance, hosting a job fair and resume writing session, building a community kitchen, and running after school snack programs, food banks are proving day-in and day-out that they understand what hunger looks like, and why it is happening.

At the provincial level, the Ontario Association of Food Banks strongly believes that the provincial government can and should take a more active role in tackling the root causes of hunger. That is why we are asking Queen’s Park to create a housing benefit for low-income tenants, develop a provincial food policy that ultimately provides access to affordable, nutritious food, and complete a thorough review of Ontario’s social assistance programs, while focusing on an increase in secure, quality employment.

This Hunger Awareness Week, ask yourself: who do you think uses food banks, and more importantly, why? Together, we can take a stand against hunger and poverty.

The hashtag for Hunger Awareness Week is #HungerWeek
For more information, please visit: OntarioHunger.ca or oafb.ca

 Follow Ontario Association of Food Banks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/OAFB


Could You Live Off a Minimum Wage Job?

National President, Unifor Founding Convention

Posted: 09/19/2013 11:41 am

Minimum wage jobs are not only for the after-school crowd of kids looking for spending money, but also an entry into the workforce for immigrants, recent graduates and many others who can only find part-time work and need to hold down two or three jobs to survive.

The most recent Statistics Canada job market figures say 70 per cent of the province’s 44,000 new jobs created in August are part-time and mostly filled by older workers. It’s also a safe bet they are mostly paid at minimum wage.

Across Canada, minimum wage ranges from $9 an hour in Alberta to $11 in Nunavut, while in most provinces it is set at $10. Unifor’s recent submission to Ontario’s Minimum Wage Panel Review should be required reading for all of them.

Consider that:
• Minimum wages in Ontario have been frozen for three-and-a-half years at $10.25 per hour, while consumer prices have increased by over 7 percent (measured by Statistics Canada’s all-items CPI for Ontario). The resulting decline in real incomes for low-wage workers is very unfair, and has undermined household finances and consumer spending in the province.

• Relative to average wages, and average hourly productivity, minimum wages in Ontario are significantly lower today than they were even in the 1970s.

• Even working full-time year-round, the existing minimum wage would leave a single worker in Ontario (with no dependents) well below low-income cut-off for a single resident (the low-income cut-off is a measure of relative poverty).

Clearly, the existing minimum wage in Ontario doesn’t give working people a chance to provide for themselves and their dependents at a decent standard of living.

The proposal now being considered by the Ontario government to raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour won’t lift the burden of poverty that weighs on low-end wage earners. But it will lighten the load somewhat.

Unifor supports the proposal as a first step of a broader strategy to ensure all workers can enjoy decent living standards.

Our position is that it should be combined, though, with other measures such as employer-specific policies, training and placement initiatives, and other policy tools aimed at lifting wages to what could genuinely be considered a “living wage.” Studies have estimated a living wage to be around $18 per hour for Ontario — an amount sufficient to allow a family of four, with two wage-earners, to pay for the basic necessities of family life.

Some economists argue that higher minimum wages will lead to higher unemployment, but a good body of evidence exists showing little connection between minimum wage levels and employment.

On the other hand, by boosting purchasing power and consumer spending, and helping lower-income families reduce their debt loads, a higher minimum wage could actually have a net positive impact on jobs and on quality of life for everyone.

Unlike the often-failed trickle-down theory of wealth accumulation, when minimum wages are raised, there is a demonstrable trickle-up benefit for the entire working community. In addition to the psychological and social benefits of being able to support oneself, stronger family incomes lead to increased demand for products and services, financially viable businesses, and a generally more vibrant community.

Of course the opposite is true when young people can’t afford to move out of their parents’ basement, families rely on food banks to feed their children, or stressed-out, single parents juggle part-time jobs to stay out of poverty.

The Ontario government can and should do better for its lowest paid workers. Giving them a chance at a decent standard of living raises the bar for everyone.

Jerry Dias is the national president of Unifor, Canada’s largest union in the private sector. Created on August 31, with the coming together of the former Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Unifor represents more than 300,000 members working in at least 20 sectors of the economy (including all stages of the economic value chain, from resources to manufacturing to transportation to private and public services).