Canada's income gap is worse than recession-plagued 1980s

A Census report from Statistics Canada today shows a booming economy did nothing to reverse the gap between the rich and the rest of us - in fact the gap is worse now than in the 1980s.

Census data show the richest 20 per cent of Canadians enjoyed median earnings increases of 16.4 per cent but the poorest 20 per cent had a 20.6 per cent drop in earnings since 1980.

Median earnings for middle-income Canadians stagnated.

If anything, this is a wake-up call for Canadians, and for our governments to have long ignored persistent poverty and deepening income inequality.

Today's Census report should have been a good news story. It should have been telling us everyone is better off. Instead, we are seeing a growing and deepening divide between the rich and the rest of us.

The labour market is rewarding the richest 20 per cent but a stunning majority of Canadians didn't get ahead in the last 25 years even though our economy is doing better than it has in 40 years.

The Census report also shows young Canadians are struggling to get ahead and things are worse for newcomers and children living in poor families.

Canadians and their governments can't keep ignoring this problem because it isn't going away - in fact it's only going to get worse.

There is an economic downturn on the horizon, and when that happens, fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride for a lot of Canadians.

-- Armine Yalnizyan