THERE IS NO REASON WHY we can't have a Canada that's prosperous and fair and leading the world towards healthier environments, healthier economies, and more widespread equality.
We've felt good about ourselves before, but for the past generation it's just felt like we're caught in a rut:
We're working longer or going longer without work.
We're working more part-time and contract jobs and we're working farther from home.
We're going longer between raises, leaning on our credit cards to pay rising utility rates, tuitions and housing costs.
We're watching our infrastructure crumble, our public services fade, and our pensions evaporate.
We're feeling powerless as our governments bow again and again to corporate demands for tax breaks, loosened environmental and safety regulations, and carte-blanche to sell our raw natural resources overseas and hire exploitable migrant workers to do what work is left here.
The Canadian Labour Institute for Social and Economic Fairness (CLI) is committed to working in solidarity with individual Canadians and our partner organizations to once again make Canada a fairer society based on equality and inclusion. We believe that a key component to achieving this is the fair distribution of the common wealth for the common good.
Growing Income Inequality — Our Biggest Challenge
The biggest challenge facing Canada today is growing income inequality. It has been growing rapidly over the past three decades, so much so that income inequality is now at its highest level since 1928, just before the Great Depression. It has gotten so outrageous that in the last decade Canada's two richest billionaires now have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 11 million Canadians. Average CEO compensation is over 235 times more than the annual pay of the average Canadian worker. And in 2017, twice as many people are working in minimum wage jobs than a decade ago.
The injustice of income inequality is obvious. But the gap between the super-rich and the rest of us also has serious consequences. It has adverse impacts all aspects of society, even our economy. There is a growing body of research around the world which shows that high levels of inequality lead to lower life expectancy, a less stable economy, higher crime, greater levels of social dysfunction, less civic engagement, diminished social mobility and lower levels of general health.
This trend must be reversed.
Causes of Growing Income Inequality
CLI stands firm against the excessive greed of the one per cent and in favour of ensuring Canada's common wealth benefits our common good.
We want to build greater public awareness about the causes of growing income inequality in Canada:
the attack on public services and programs, which has left more and more of our vulnerable citizens to fend for themselves;
the lack of tax fairness, which has resulted in increased government spending on tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy and less government spending on public services;
the lack of a modern industrial strategy in favour of a hands-off strategy of deregulation, free trade, privatization and government spending on tax cuts to corporations without any corresponding commitment to job creation; and
the three and half decades’ attack on labour rights which has led to shrinking union density and weakened workers' ability to achieve greater income equality.
At the same time, we want to put forward our alternative approach aimed at reversing this negative trend and creating greater income equality in Canada, an approach that is focused on:
quality public services that meet the needs of all citizens and enhance the values of equality and inclusion;
tax fairness based on a progressive approach to wealth distribution;
a modern industrial strategy that supports a mixed economy and emphasizes social justice, and environmental and economic sustainability;
and recognition that labour rights are human rights and are a critical instrument to achieve higher levels of economic equality and social rights for all citizens.
Positive changes can only come the way it's always come: when enough people demand it. Our parents and grandparents learned this lesson well: they had to fight through powerful and entrenched resistance to things like universal health care, pay equity, and the Canada Pension Plan.
Today despite powerful and entrenched resistance, there are thousands and thousands of individuals who are taking action and making their voices heard. We celebrate them and applaud their work.
So let's talk about income inequality. With our friends, our family, our neighbours, co-workers, and our social media contacts. Ask if they think it's right that the rich prosper while the rest of us struggle to a fair and living wage. Tell them our public services and the taxes we pay have always been a great bargain.
This is about social and economic fairness. And when we fight for fairness everybody wins!