Economic inequality has been in the news over the past few days as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has released their annual report highlighting the massive disparities between executive compensation and the wages of regular workers. Income inequality is a persistent problem in Canada and one that is growing at a rapid rate.
In the wake of globalization and financial capitalism Canadian society has developed an economic system predicated on excessive compensation for an elite few and stagnating or declining wages for the vast majority of workers. Consider that in the period between 1980 and 2005 the median earnings for workers in Canada rose by just $53.00 annually. The developments of the past thirty years bode poorly for long-term social stability, economic prosperity and sustainable growth.
The events of the last year have shown that the fault-lines are being drawn amid little political action to address the underlying issues driving income inequality. Be it the Occupy movement, the English riots or the Arab Spring - young people around the world are demanding change to an economic system that has abandoned them and left them toiling in uncertainty, precarity and hopelessness.
I've culled some resources to give additional perspective on income inequality in Canada and possible public policy responses which could be implement given enough political will or pressure. David Doorey has written numerous posts outlining regulatory changes that could address inequality, see: here, here and here. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a comprehensive report on income inequality in advanced economies in December, it can be found here. The CCPA has an ongoing initiative called "Growing Gap" that traces developments related to income inequality in Canada, check it out here. Finally, Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks published a book last year entitled "The Trouble with Billionaires" which traces how the perverse concentration of economic power is bad for everyone; below I've attached an interview with Ms. McQuaig where she discusses the book.