LETTER: Income disparity widens in Canada

A summer dwelling at McLeod Lake in northeastern B.C.

Re: Time to enrich poverty debate (B.C. Views, March 9). Tom Fletcher raises a number of points in his article that require a critical look.

As a balance to the Ralph Sultan study he refers to, may I suggest “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”. Regardless of quibbles over definitions of poverty line (and by Mr. Fletcher’s own admission, the extreme cost of housing in areas such as Victoria certainly pushes Statistics Canada’s low income cutoff closer to such a line), societies with large inequalities in wealth are much more prone to social problems of all kinds.

For example, Canada’s infant mortality figures from a recent OECD study show that we have slipped from sixth to 24th in the world, at the same time as income disparities between rich and poor reached levels not seen since the 1920s. A UNICEF report shows us at 17th out of 24 in the area of children’s material well being, which includes family income and housing.

Societies with higher income disparity also demonstrate increased mental health problems and drug use, obesity, lower educational performance, more violence and imprisonment, and many other symptoms of malaise. In contrast, innovation, productivity and economic stability are actually greater in more equal societies. For example, Canada and the U.S. are at the bottom of patents issued per million population among developed nations.

Mr. Fletcher seems to imply that “the poor shall always be with us” is some sort of excuse for ignoring poverty issues. While there will indeed always be those with less than the more fortunate, how big the difference is and how we treat them clearly has huge consequences not just for the poor but for us as a society.

Judy Gaylord

Victoria

Just Posted

Sooke’s ‘Stonehenge’ gets a rocky reception

Structure intended to accommodate memorial plaques

Sooke district under fire for zoning debacle

Saseenos Veterinary Clinic may have to pay twice for rezoning

Colwood square dancing open house to welcome in new dancers

“It’s therapy,” said long-time square dancer Linda Townsend

Green candidate expects a tight race in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke

David Merner says Green Party would act as “strong moral conscience” in a minority Parliament

Tour Government House and other homes, enjoy art along the way

The Art Gallery’s 66th annual House Tour features artists at work, artistic floral displays

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

Most Read