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

Port Hardy council hesitant to formalize question period in agendas, refers it to committee

In first act as new council, representatives were uncertain about formalizing question periods.

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Mt. Waddington’s Salvation Army releases eye-opening statistics report for 2017

Shelter overnight stays saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Cowichan school district defends lack of notice to parents following elementary student arrest

Officials with School District 79 stand by their decision not to send out an alert.

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Island Corridor Foundation optimistic about restoring rail service

If green-lighted, first priority would be Langford to Victoria route

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read