OTTAWA—Following the release of Towards a More Equal Canada, a discussion paper on income inequality, the Broadbent Institute has published the first of a series of responses to the report from a number of academics and politicians. This first round of responses includes opinions by Senator Hugh Segal and academics Luc Turgeon and Katherine Scott. Alongside the paper, these newly-released responses represent the next step in the Institute’s Equality Project.
“The public response to our paper has been tremendous,” says Broadbent Institute founder Ed Broadbent. “We are at a critical time in our history; it is more important than ever that we have a national discussion on income inequality.”
An Environics poll commissioned by the Broadbent Institute shows that Canadians are ready to challenge income inequality: 77% believe that income inequality is a major problem for Canada, and a clear majority – including a majority of Conservative voters – are willing to protect our social programs, even if it means paying higher taxes. 9 out of 10 respondents agreed that reducing income inequality should be a priority for the federal government.
“Canadians are prepared to have this discussion,” explained Broadbent. "It is my hope that these responses to our paper will prompt a wider national debate on the political choices that can reduce, or exacerbate, inequality."
We often hear that there is a large and unfair gap between the life-chances of the baby boomers – those persons now in their mid-50s to early 60s – and their children, the echo-baby boomers now in their 20s.
In reality, class inequality within generations is far greater than differences between generations. There are extremes of rich and poor and a shrinking middle-class within all age groups.
When Ontario’s Bill 115 was first proposed, and then made law, I was perplexed. Are these the kinds of lessons that we should be teaching our children?
Preparing students for active participation in a democratic society is part and parcel of the work educators perform every day. When I was young, teachers taught me what it means to be a good citizen: respect others, stand up for what is right, and play fair. Today my son, in senior kindergarten, learns these same lessons.
But for some reason, Premier Dalton McGuinty seems to be having trouble remembering these lessons.
A left-wing think-tank led by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent says greater "wealth redistribution" is needed to battle income inequality in Canada.
The Broadbent Institute says the growing gap between the rich and the poor became the "defining political issue of our time" after the Occupy movement swept across North America last fall.
In response, the think-tank proposes raising corporate taxes, the creation of "good jobs" - employment with high labour standards and environmental protections - and expanding public services.
"Higher tax rates for very high-income earners are likely the most effective way to deal with the fact that the incomes of the top 1% are rising at the expense of everybody else," the report says. "Top tax rates today are certainly much lower than they were 20 years ago."
Broadbent's institute also argues Canada is currently moving backwards because for "every $1 increase in national earnings over the past 20 years, more than 30 cents have gone to the top 1%, while 70 cents have had to be shared among the bottom 99%."
Broadbent, who has also narrated a YouTube video on the topic, says societies with greater income inequality are generally more violent, less healthy and less prosperous.
The NDP built its election platform on the assumption that a higher corporate tax rate would bring in billions in additional revenue. Conservatives argue lower corporate rates attract foreign investors and create jobs.