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Time to explore new policies to narrow inequality gap, say Tyee readers

Income inequality in British Columbia is larger than the average across Canadian provinces, say Tyee readers.

In our latest Barometer poll, we asked: How do you think levels of income inequality in B.C. compare to levels in other Canadian provinces? 86 per cent of the 472 readers that completed the poll think that B.C. income inequality is above average. Only three per cent thinks the opposite, while 11 per cent think B.C. is about average.

Our readers are right. According to a report from B.C. Statistics released in 2012, B.C.'s income gap has been growing for 15 years to the point that British Columbia ranks second in income inequality among provinces, second only to Alberta.

British Columbia's Gini coefficient -- a measure of inequality in which zero reflects total equality and one reflects total inequality -- of after-tax income inequality was 0.33 in 2009, according to the report. Only B.C., Alberta, and Ontario are above the Canadian average.

In order to fight income inequality, 57 per cent of the respondents of our poll believe it is time to explore new policies to narrow the inequality gap. The other popular idea to fight the gap -- 38 per cent of responders chose it as their top choice -- is to increase social assistance, Employment Insurance, old age security, and child benefits.

Age didn't make a difference in opinion regarding income inequality, our poll shows. A comparison between the responses given by voters aged under and over 35 shows only a three per cent difference -- 84 per cent of voters under 35 and 87 per cent of voters over 35 believe that B.C.'s income inequality is above average.

The same applies when comparing ideas to fight inequality between age groups. Exploring new policy options is the preferred idea for 57 per cent of voters over 35 and for 58 per cent of voters under 35. Of the total of 472 voters, 392 -- 83 per cent -- were 35 or older.

Have a look at the full results here.

The Tyee publishes a new Barometer every week. Currently, we're asking readers for their thoughts on funding for post-secondary education.

Carlos Tello is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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