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Income gap growing wider [CA]

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Monsebraaten, Laurie
Publication Date: 
21 Oct 2008

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Poverty and inequality rates in Canada have been on the rise since 1995 and are now higher than the average developed nation, according to a new study.

The income gap is growing throughout the developed world, but the gap between rich and poor in Canada widened more dramatically than in most countries between 1995 and 2005, according to the report released in Paris today.

The 20-year analysis by the 30-member Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development found only Germany saw a similar rate of increase during the past 10 years.


Most affected have been young adults and families with children.

Canada spends less on cash transfers, such as unemployment and family benefits, than other OECD countries and that may be one of the reasons the country fares worse than others, the report suggests.

The report echoes concerns raised by Canadian social research groups about growing income disparity in Canada at a time of strong economic growth.

"It's a consistent repudiation of the trickle-down theory," said Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which has written several reports on the issue.


The OECD report underscores the need for federal action, she said, adding every political party except the recently elected federal Conservatives had plans to cut poverty in their campaign platforms.

"It will be interesting to see how the other parties form a coalition of interest on this issue, or if they do," Yalnizyan said.


But Lesley Harmer, a spokesperson for retiring Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg, said the government is "taking real action to support Canadians who need help."

In an email, she listed "vital social programs" the government is strengthening: the Working Income Tax Benefit; the recent extension of affordable housing and homelessness programs; the new retired disability savings program; $100 monthly child care benefits; and supports for seniors, skills training and post-secondary education.

When asked if the government plans to introduce a strategy with goals and timetables she said: "I think what I sent you stands."

- reprinted from the Toronto Star

Entered Date: 
22 Oct 2008
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