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It’s time to tackle inequality and poverty in Canada

By Michael Hatfield      

Between 1990 and 2000, market and disposable income inequality rose significantly, poverty rates rose or remained stable for persons under age 65, the real incomes of the poorest 10 per cent fell, and the only large gains in real incomes were experienced by the richest 10 per cent of households.

There is no official measure of poverty for Canada, as a whole. The measure of low income with the longest history of data collection is the 1992 base post-income tax low income cut-offs. Using this measure, the low income rate for children under age 18 living changed little between 1990 and 2000, dipping from 14.0 per cent to 13.9 per cent. The rate for all persons 18-64 rose from 11.2 per cent to 12.9 per cent. Between 2000 and 2014, the rate for children fell sharply from 13.9 per cent to an all-time low of 8.5 per cent. The rate for persons aged 18-64 fell from 12.9 per cent to 10.0 per cent. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

Many people believe that income and wealth inequality and poverty are serious and growing problems in Canada. But the perception that the situation has only gone from bad to worse over the past several years, instead of stirring a demand for action, has left many Canadians resigned to the belief that nothing can or will be done by governments to improve the situation, or at least prevent it from getting worse.

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