Even Richer Than You Think – Time for Liberals to Act on Growing Inequality, Says Steelworkers Union

TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) union is calling on the Trudeau government to take action on Canada’s growing inequality, following a report that shows the rich hold a larger share of wealth than previously thought.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s (PBO’s) report, Estimating the Top Tail of the Family Wealth Distribution in Canada, exposes the disparity between the rich and the rest of us is even more extreme than previously known.

The report reveals that the top 1% in Canada hold a quarter – 25.6% – of all of our country’s wealth. That is a 12% higher concentration of wealth in the hands of the few from previous estimates, due to a new PBO method of estimating family wealth in Canada.

“Growing inequality is holding Canada back. The PBO report shows it’s even worse than we thought. It’s not a done deal that the rich get richer and the rest of us get left behind. There are things the government can do to tackle growing inequality. This report is a call to action,” said Ken Neumann USW National Director.

“This is an outrageous imbalance,” said Neumann. “The richest, wealthiest families in Canada are holding more than $3 trillion, which is a quarter of the worth of the whole country. This is out of whack. Let’s heed this warning.”

“The government can act and make things more fair. For starters, tax the rich and make it easier for workers to join or form a union,” said Neumann.

In the last federal election, the NDP proposed a wealth tax of 1% on wealth over $20 million. It was the exercise of costing this proposal that prompted the PBO to find a new way of estimating wealth in Canada.

The PBO estimated that the NDP’s ‘super wealth’ tax would generate over $70 billion in tax revenues over 10 years, funds that could be invested in important public services like health care for all Canadians.

Another NDP proposal that would reduce inequality is to make it easier for workers to join or form a union in their workplaces.

“We know that workers that are members of a union have higher wages, better benefits and more pay transparency than non-union workers,” said Neumann. “If more workers had the benefit of union membership, we would be on the road to reducing inequality in this country.”

The federal Liberals have broken multiple promises on closing the gap on inequality. The Liberals profess to care about the middle class, but once in government, they watered down tax reform, delayed changes to taxing stock options, and their very first act upon re-election was an income tax cut that actually gave a bigger break to those at the top.

“In our current moment, when we are resolving to address systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in our society, and when the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaping holes in public health and our social safety net, there is momentum and public support for bold action to reduce inequality in Canada,” said Neumann.


For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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