Canada's Gender Gap Decreases But Overall Income Disparity Increases
According to a new report from Statistics Canada, more Canadian women than ever before are now making it into the ranks of those earning at the top 1% income level or higher. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the poor in Canada just keep getting poorer.
In 2014 those earning at the top 1% income level had to make at least $225,100 (Canadian dollars) for the year. That corresponds to 268,500 tax filers that year.
A salary of $225k in Canada is not really that much because at that level the income tax rate is 50% and the cost of living in many parts of Canada is very high. For example, the average home price in Vancouver is over $1 million. So, being in the top 1% does not necessarily imply wealth and in some cities it is merely a living wage. However, $225k/year would make one wealthy in some rural parts of Canada.
22% percent of those in what’s referred to as the “One Percent Club” were women.
To put that in perspective, in the early 1980s only 10% of Canadian women were earning at the top 1% income level or higher, so 22% represents major progress.
The wealthy have also seen their numbers go up over that period. Currently, those earning at the 1% or higher income level account for 12% of all income in Canada for 2014. That is a share growth of 53% since the same mid-1980s period.
The poor, however, just keep digging deeper, it seems. The percentage money share of the bottom 50% of all wage earners in Canada dropped 28.4% between 1982 and 2014. This puts those numbers even lower – as a percentage of what is earned by all Canadian wage earners – than the same group made during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
For those following the statistics, that women are finally seeing earnings advancement at the high end is clearly something to celebrate. It represents a few more glass ceilings being broken through every day as well as a different quality of leadership being brought to the most senior of executive positions in the country.
But unless the poor begin to catch up in the same economic race, an increasingly more challenging two-tier quality of life is going to get worse. There is of course the pure humane issue of a larger number of people than ever before unable to have adequate housing, food, medical care and access to ways to improve their situation. And a lack of inclusion in the country’s financial system also has its consequences by isolating this group from the rest of the people.
One of the factors driving the increase in the wealthy class is immigration. A large percentage of new Canadians are wealthy Asians. The previous boom of high paying jobs in the tar sands in Alberta also boosted the number of top-earners, until the price of oil dropped.
It will be awhile before the stats for 2016 are available. Canada does not have a grip on its economic realities in real time, if at all by the time the government has massaged the numbers. But, casual observations indicate that the income disparity is worsening. This was expected under the previous Conservative government. But even under the so-called Liberal government, the rich continue to get richer while everyone else is getting poorer. There are several reasons for this.
One big reason is that far too much of Canada's economy has been based on resource extraction and once the resources are depleted or prices decline then so does the revenue.
Unbridled immigration is also having far-reaching consequences. Wealthy Asians have caused a rapid and extreme rise in housing prices in Vancouver and Toronto, which has pushed the working class into sub-standard housing, long commutes or forced them to move to other regions.
Corruption, bureaucracy, high taxes and poor city planning are fueling further poverty, desperation and crime.
Canada is currently one of the top destinations for international criminal money laundering and the vast sums of money being injected into certain segments of the economy are radically distorting the economy and corrupting government at many levels.