As the October federal election approaches, housing continues to be one of the critical issues Canadian face. After over 20 years of minimal attention on the issue, the federal government has finally re-engaged with housing policy and funding. While much jurisdictional authority for housing provision and regulation lies with provincial governments, the federal government, nonetheless, can leverage significant affordable housing infrastructure through its spending powers. Indeed, federal leadership in ensuring affordable housing has been key in the past. Yet, housing experts worry the current initiative promises too little, to be delivered tomorrow and not today.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy announced by the federal government at the end of August proposes that an official Canadian poverty line be set for the first time and enshrined in legislation; and that official targets be set to reduce the poverty rate by 20% by 2020, and by 50% by 2030.
Though not a complete solution, the Poverty Reduction Strategy announced by the federal government at the end of August marks a step forward in Canadian social policy. It is proposed that an official Canadian poverty line be set for the first time and enshrined in legislation; that official targets be set to reduce the poverty rate by 20% by 2020, and by 50% by 2030; and that there be annual monitoring of progress towards the target.
When Christy Clark’s government released its budget in February, many advocates were hoping for real action on soaring housing costs. British Columbia’s economy is growing and investments in affordable housing in this budget – for the last full fiscal year before going to the polls in 2017 – had the potential to address the severe crisis many British Columbians are facing.
The 2016 Census income data released today shows that family and individual incomes rose significantly for most of the population in the decade from 2005 to 2015, mainly due to the resource boom that extended through most of the period. The median total income of families adjusted for inflation rose by a healthy 10.8 per cent. But the gains were unequally shared, and some families and individuals fell behind.
Understanding what has been happening in recent years with income inequality in Canada is vitally important.
What do we know, for example, about the incidence of low income and poverty, or the impact of taxes and income transfers on the level and distribution of family income? What are the differences in income across provinces, or between different kinds of families, such as seniors and lone-parent families? More pressingly from a public policy perspective, what difference has government policy made to the economic well-being of Canadian families and to the fairness and equity of Canadian society?
Answering these questions relies on having sound data that are reliable and comparable over time.
Surrounded as we are by the tunes and decorations of the holiday season, Industry Minister James Moore’s recent uncharitable comments about child poverty and hunger invoke inevitable comparisons to Charles Dickens’ famed miser Ebenezer Scrooge. One could easily imagine Scrooge haughtily asking his nephew, “Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I think not.”
The spirit of Moore’s comments offend the many Canadians who do think that if their neighbour’s child goes hungry it ought to concern them, that our responsibility for each other goes beyond the walls of our own homes. The attitude behind such comments is far from admirable, and disappointing to hear voiced by any elected official. It’s a position far from the values of Canadians.
Perhaps more disturbing from the Federal Ministry of Industry, however, is the comment that poverty is not Ottawa’s problem.
Posted by John Myles and Keith Banting · October 17, 2013 10:58 AM
To mark the launch of ‘Inequality and the Fading of Redistributive Politics’, a seminal new edited volume on inequality in Canada, the Broadbent Institute is featuring a series of posts from the book’s contributors. Today, we present a piece from the book's editors: Keith Banting and Broadbent Fellow John Myles.
The core message of Inequality and the Fading of Redistributive Politics is that democratic politics and income inequality in Canada are deeply linked. The surge in inequality, which occurred primarily in the 1990s but whose effects persist, was only partly the result of globalization and technological change.