The growing gap

Milton Friedman’s legacy was to completely ignore the issue of inequality – of outcomes, of starting points, and of opportunities. So it is fitting that the CCPA launched a new research project today on inequality in Canada. A good question to ask whenever you hear policy proposals is: what does this do to inequality? The proposals from Harris and Manning would greatly increase it, and they would argue that such an outcome would be just.

We disagree. “The Growing Gap” has its own website and blog for those of you interested in following developments. Here’s a snippet from today’s release, which featured some alarming polling results on inequality (full paper here):

 A record high number of Canadians think Canada’s gap between rich and poor is growing – and it’s causing them concern, according to an Environics Research poll conducted for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The poll reveals three-quarters (76%) of Canadians believe Canada’s gap between rich and poor has grown compared to 10 years ago. That number is up from 2003, when 70% thought the gap had grown. In 1990, 68% of Canadians thought the gap had grown.

“The growing gap is clearly an issue that’s flying under the radar screen of Canadian political life,” says Armine Yalnizyan, research fellow with the CCPA. “Canadians are well aware of the inequality that surrounds them and they’re worried about it.”

  • Almost half of Canadians (49%) say they are always just one or two missed paycheques away from being poor.
  • About two-thirds of Canadians (65%) say most people have not benefited from Canada’s economic growth and that benefits have mostly gone to the very rich.
  • Three-quarters of Canadians (76%) worry a growing gap will lead to more crime and, if left unchecked, they also believe Canada will end up being like the U.S.

“Canadians keep seeing evidence of wealth created in their society but they are having a tough time confirming it in their own lives. They’re not alone – they are among a majority who see the growing gap as a pressing problem,” says Yalnizyan.

… Environics interviewed 2,021 adult Canadians by telephone for this poll. A survey of this magnitude yields results that can be considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

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