Ed Broadbent calls for more taxes to battle income gaps in Canada

Toronto - One year since Occupy Wall Street became one of the leading political movements, the left-leaning Broadbent Institute published a report that highlights income inequality as one of the most important issues facing Canada.

The Broadbent Institute, founded by former New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent, released the findings of its latest "Equality Project" on Tuesday. The results suggested that more than three-quarters (77 percent) of Canadians believe income inequality is a serious issue and say they are willing to do more to tackle the problem.

If left unresolved and government doesn’t provide necessary solutions, participants said then the long-term negative impact could eventually be seen in the standard of living (79 percent), community safety (75 percent), quality of healthcare and public services (72 percent), employment opportunity for youth (71 percent) and democratic principles (67 percent).

Participants (71 percent) in the research study concurred that the widening gap between the rich and poor is something that “undermines Canadian values.”

What are some of the solutions? The group said that an overwhelming number of Canadians, both high- and middle-income, support the introduction of new taxes and tax increases as some of the answers to the problem.

Although the federal government faces a near $600 billion national debt and a $31 billion budget deficit, most Canadians want the government to do more. If Ottawa cannot then a majority of Liberal, NDP and Conservative respondents said they’d be willing to pay more to protect public services and reduce income disparity.

Furthermore, 83 percent of Canadians in the survey said that they support higher income taxes for the affluent in society and nearly three-quarters said they want corporations to pay higher tax rates (2008 levels)

More than two-thirds (69 percent) support introducing a new 35 percent inheritance tax on any estate that is estimated to be valued at $5 million or more – Canada used to maintain such a tax but it was scrapped in the 1980s.

“The current rise of extreme income inequality must now be reversed. Canadians need to take action, and demand that their governments take action on income inequality,” said Broadbent in a statement. “Drafted in consultation with some of Canada’s leading thinkers and policy experts, I hope that this paper will stimulate a serious national discussion on extreme income inequality, and what to do about it. We are facing a serious and growing inequality problem, and the time is now to re-balance our priorities.”

Broadbent also published a cartoon video along with the report that shows the former NDP leader writing on a white board with a black marker.

The institute noted that in the coming weeks it will release responses to the study from across the political spectrum.

Earlier this year, the organization published a similar study that suggested Canadians are willing to pay “slightly” more in taxes to protect the nation’s social services, such as education and health care. The survey also suggested the same taxes: 35 percent inheritance tax, corporate tax increase and higher income taxes for those earning between $250,000 and $500,000.