Leader of the Opposition Thomas Mulcair has launched a new round of debate over the need for a national child care and early learning program. The NDP poposal would help the provinces to finance quality, affordable child care systems, delivered by regulated providers in place of the current patchwork quilt of formal and informal care of varying price and quality.
Best-selling author Thomas Piketty argues in his book, Capital in the Twenty First Century, that inequality is set to return to the extreme levels of the “Gilded Age” of the late nineteenth century when very large shares of income and wealth were concentrated in the hands of the super rich. And he is far from alone.
In a gloomy long-term prognostication, Policy Challenges for the Next Fifty Years, the OECD, the major think-tank of the advanced economies, anticipates that the incomes of those at the top will continue to grow much more rapidly than those at the middle and bottom.
What the report sought to do was look at racialized labour market data in Ontario and compare it to previous work done using 2006 Census data, to see how the trends in the labour experience of racialized Ontarians have changed over time.
Since the early 1980s, middle class incomes in Canada and the United States have stagnated while the incomes of the top 1% have, with occasional short interruptions, grown dramatically. As a result, the top 1% income share in the U.S. increased from 10.8% of total income in 1982 to 22.5% in 2012. Tax data in Canada show a smaller increase, but it is hard to be completely sure since the top 1% in Canada have been able to shelter some of their income increase from view (in Canadian Controlled Private Corporations).
Call me crazy, but as our elected representatives return to Parliament next week, I’m actually feeling a little hopeful.
That’s because as we approach a critical election next year, the pressing issue of inequality might finally take centre stage. It’s more than a hunch. Inequality is clearly forming roots in the public imagination.
Labour market data in Canada is easily available by sex, age, and region. We spend a great deal of time talking about these factors. More recently, Statistics Canada made labour market data available on CANSIM by landed immigrant status, going back to 2006. This factor is included less often in most labour market analysis, and too few know that it is even available.
But if you want to know how racialized workers or Indigenous workers (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples) are doing in the labour force, you basically have to rely on the census … oh, wait. And on top of eliminating the census, the Harper government shut down the First Nations Statistical Institute.
The Leader of the Opposition, Tom Mulcair, is to be congratulated for his proposal to re-introduce a federal minimum wage.
Abolished in 1996, the federal minimum wage applied to the approximately 8% of all employees who work in federally regulated industries. It also used to set a national benchmark for provincial minimum wages. Mr. Mulcair's proposal is in line with the 2006 Federal Labour Standards Review that was appointed by the Minister of Labour and led by Harry Arthurs, a distinguished labour law expert who was Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and, later, President of York University. Professor Arthurs, who recommended that a federal minimum wage be re-introduced, argued that “the government should accept the principle that no Canadian worker should work full-time for a full year and still live in poverty... this is an issue of fundamental decency that no modern prosperous country like Canada can ignore.”
The Harper government recently unveiled its plan to invest millions of dollars over the next three years to expand Internet access.
Comparing the plan to the creation of the national railway and the opening of the Northwest Passage, the government proclaimed that, "access to the Internet is essential to create jobs, realize economic opportunities, and link Canadians to online services as well as far-off family members and friends."
Bold words are easy to put in a press release. Unfortunately, the reality for many low-income Canadians is it's simply too expensive to get online.
Editor's note: after releasing its July jobs report on Aug. 8 showing 200 jobs were created overall, Statistics Canada said on Aug. 12 it had made an unspecified error in the labour force survey. The agency released an amended jobs report on Aug. 15. This has been updated to incorporate Statistics Canada's correction.
The Harper government boasts of rapid job creation since the recession. But today's revised job numbers demonstrate that the recovery has stalled