Wealth gap in Canada far worse than people think

According to the poll of 3,000 Canadians, the ideal wealth distribution would see a healthy middle class with 60% of Canadians in the middle owning roughly 60% of the wealth. The richest 20% would be three times richer than the poorest 20%, who would still own a significant share of the pie -- 11.5% compared to 30.3% for the wealthiest fifth. Conservative-leaning Canadians also agreed with this distribution, the survey said.

Canadians think the actual distribution of wealth in the country is much more unequal than the ideal, the survey shows. People think the richest 20% in Canada own 10 times the wealth of the poorest 20% -- 55.5% of the wealth compared to 5.8%.

But the reality is much worse than Canadians imagine. The richest 20% in fact hold 67.4% of all wealth, while the poorest 20% control virtually no wealth at all.

Other key findings of the survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Canada on behalf of the Broadbent Institute, include:

  • Canadians think the middle 20% hold 13.5% of all wealth, but should hold 23.7%; their actual wealth distribution totals only 9%.
  • Ideally, the bottom 40% would hold 25.6% of all wealth, but they hold only 2.2% in actuality.
  • When asked about income inequality, four out of five (80%) say the gap between the rich and everybody else has increased over the last 10 years, including 76% who voted Conservative in the 2011 election. Overall, 86% of Canadians think the gap is a problem, including 74% of Conservative voters.
  • When asked if they think government policies and programs can do something to reduce the gap, three in four (73%) Canadians believe government can do something to reduce it.