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.Read more
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.”Read more
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.Read more
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 stalledRead more
It is hardly news, but the scale of the manufacturing crisis in Canada continues to astound.
Between 2002 and 2013, manufacturing employment fell by 557,000 jobs, meaning that one in four (24%) of the jobs that existed in 2002 have disappeared. As a share of all jobs, manufacturing fell from 15.0% to 9.8% over this period.
There has been no meaningful or sustained recovery from the Great Recession for the manufacturing sector. Total employment in 2013 was no greater than in the recession year of 2009.Read more
The Conservative Party recently launched the “We're Better off with Harper” campaign with the claim that “with over one million net new jobs created in the recovery, Canada's economy is on the right track – thanks to the strong leadership of Stephen Harper and Canada's Conservatives.”
There have indeed been more than one million jobs created since mid-2009 when the recovery began. But the job market in Canada is still far weaker than was the case before the recession.Read more
The Conservative Party recently launched the “We're better off with Harper” campaign with the claim that “with over one million net new jobs created in the recovery, Canada's economy is on the right track – thanks to the strong leadership of Stephen Harper and Canada's Conservatives.”
The number in that claim is carefully chosen, and taken in isolation is factually correct. In the five years of recovery from June 2009 to June 2014, total employment indeed rose by 1,091,400 jobs.
But if we do the count from June 2008, before the onset of the recession and the big job losses it caused, the increase in employment to date has been a more modest 753,000 jobs. And the national unemployment rate in June 2014 was, at 7.1%, still significantly higher than the average of 6.0% in 2007 and 6.1% in 2008.Read more