Conclusion prompts Dix, Falcon to spar on issues of economy

Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver Sun

VICTORIA — British Columbia is “dead last” among provinces when it comes to the gap between the highest income earners and the lowest, according to a report by BC Stats.

The report highlights growing inequality in B.C. and across Canada, adding the issue recently came to a head in the form of the Occupy movement.

“In a free market society like Canada there will always be some that are better off than others, but the challenge is figuring out how large a gap between the highest earners and lowest earners should be considered acceptable,” stated the report, entitled Mind the Gap….

Gap between rich and poor highest in B.C. says report

The report said that in 2009, the lowest 20 per cent of British Columbians earned just 7.7 per cent of what the top 20 per cent earned, before transfers and taxes.

“Compared to other provinces, B.C. ranked dead last in 2009, with the largest gap between the top 20 per cent and the bottom 20 per cent of income earners,” said the report.

After transfers and taxes, the percentage improved, said the report, but the lowest 20 per cent were still making only 16.5 per cent of what the top 20 per cent were making.

The report said the Canadian average was 18.4 per cent for that year, adding that in the 1990s the B.C. number was closer to 22 per cent.

The report also cited a second measure of inequality, which found B.C. to have the second-highest level of income inequality, just behind Alberta….

The report released by BC Stats does not take sides in the political realm, although it does question the role of tax cuts when it comes to the specific issue of income equality.

“While tax cuts have benefited people of all income levels to some extent, they have had less of a positive effect on the lowest income earners,” said the report.

“This is because these lower-income individuals pay very few income taxes to begin with and are more reliant on the benefits and services that are paid for with tax revenue.”

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