The big issue facing our province, and Canada, is inequality - of incomes and wealth. The past three decades have been very good for BC's elites, but others have stagnated or drifted downwards. Averages and aggregate numbers disguise the truth.
A feature in today's Globe and Mail provides a vivid overview of the precarious situations confronting many people. Young families, renters, seniors and many others are being stressed. It is clear that measures like an increased minimum wage, higher social assistance payments, housing subsidies, and more effective taxation of wealth are needed. Even a local business economist has endorsed the latter. Jock Finlayson of the BC Business Council is quoted in the Globe. “In the business community, we are worried about it, it’s forcing people to look at living elsewhere. It’s forcing people with children to live in accommodations that are not really designed for families,” he said. “Those who are established in the market have all enjoyed an unearned windfall in wealth. It’s also tax free. How equitable is that, from the perspective of the 30 per cent of renters, or those who bought at top-dollar prices?”
The Vanishing Middle Class is a big issue in BC and in the US. A recently published book from MIT academic Peter Temin paints the graphic picture. There is a good review and summary available at Evonomics. As Temin observes, and Lynn Parramore emphasizes, these diverging populations are at the heart of political discontent and will demand attention.
Recent analysis has also shown that job growth in BC (and Ontario) has been in positions where wages are mostly below the average level, essentially low-paid work. This is in stark contrast to elsewhere in Canada.
Indeed, the system is rigged to benefit those who are at the top of the pile currently. And as government policy has caused the problem, government policy is also the way to correct it.