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

UPDATE: Fuel truck hits train in Port Coquitlam, causing massive fire

CP Rail reporting no injuries, driver of truck is safe.

What the 2016 Census tells us about Surrey

The City of Surrey, by the numbers

ZYTARUK: Only the truth, and nothing but

Lying hurts all of us. You, me, them. All of us.

City removes signs opposing housing development at Surrey golf course

While opponents claim political interference, City of Surrey says signs were not lawfully erected

UPDATE: Brother of teen killed by stray bullet in Vancouver says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down while on his way home from dinner with his family

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Movie filmed in Castlegar B.C. opens Friday

Hollow in the Land starring Dianna Agron will be playing in select cinemas.

Semi rollover on Highway 3

Highway 3 is reduced to single-alternating lanes

Most Read