The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Seven Things You Need to Know about Inequality

Gap between rich and poor grows, but solutions exist, says Tyee's author of 'A Better Place on Earth.'

By Andrew MacLeod 19 May 2015 |

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative bureau chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, April 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

In recent weeks I've had the chance to talk at launches in Victoria and Vancouver about economic inequality and my bestselling book A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia.

There's been attention from Global News, the Vancouver Sun, CBC radio, CKNW and other media outlets. B.C. Booklook said I should be gagged for spreading "malicious truths."

Following are seven key facts I think you should know about the growing gap between rich and poor in B.C. and elsewhere:

1. Inequality has been rising for three decades: Anyone in a city in British Columbia is well aware that while some people have wealth counted in the billions of dollars, others sleep in doorways and eat from food banks. What we know from experience is borne out by statistics, which show that inequality has grown in Canada, like in much of the economically developed world, since the 1980s. In B.C. the gap has grown even faster, with inequality spiking from below the Canadian average to well above it in the early 2000s. The top 10 per cent now hold 56.2 per cent of the wealth in the province, the biggest share anywhere in Canada.

2. High inequality has many consequences: Research from around the world shows that greater inequality is associated with all kinds of negatives, including worse health outcomes, poorer education, more teen pregnancy, greater substance abuse, higher rates of mental illness and higher levels of incarceration. It is also linked to reduced opportunity, where children are likely to be stuck in the same income bracket as their parents. Inequality makes economies weaker, since many people in the bottom and middle tiers lack buying power. It is frequently cited by economists as a key reason why the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis has been so lacklustre. We're all affected.

3. There's wide consensus we've got a problem: The World Economic Forum in 2015 named rising inequality as the number one threat to the global economy. Others raising the alarm include Bank of England governor Mark Carney, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, United States federal reserve chair Janet Yellen, American billionaire Warren Buffett, recently retired president and CEO of the TD Bank Ed Clark, former B.C. finance minister Carole Taylor and the Business Council of B.C.

4. There are many reasons why the gap has widened: While incomes for the very top earners have ballooned, pay for people at the bottom has stagnated or even declined. Minimum wages and welfare rates have been virtually frozen. The number of people who are self-employed and underemployed has grown, and the number of workers belonging to unions has decreased. At the same time, federal and provincial governments have focussed on cutting taxes and gutting services, doing less than they did in the past to narrow the gap.

5. Jobs and a growing economy are not enough: Politicians promise "jobs, jobs, jobs" and suggest that growing the economy will provide people with a path out of poverty. The pitch is attractive, but sadly it's not how things have worked out in the past. Inequality has, in fact, risen in B.C. and Canada even through economic boom years. When times have been good, the spoils have tended to flow up to those who are already rich rather than trickle down to the poor. Nor have those in the middle seen their share. Large numbers of people are left out of the workforce and many of the jobs that do exist are too unstable or too poorly paid for families to build a life. Jobs are important, but quality matters, and more supports are needed.

6. Reducing inequality is simple: Researchers argue that when it comes to addressing inequality, the method is less important than the end result. Countries where pre-tax incomes are relatively close have similar outcomes to ones that correct big gaps through taxing the wealthy and sharing with those in need. Anything that reins in incomes at the top, raises them at the bottom and strengthens the middle will help. And there are countless options available to decision makers, including introducing a guaranteed liveable income, increasing support for childcare, creating more non-market housing, strengthening employment standards, distributing money to people who don't have much and taxing inheritances. Each option has pros and cons, and we need to have a public discussion about which paths to try.

7. Government is never neutral: Some argue that in taking steps to reduce inequality, governments would be picking winners and losers. The thing is, governments already do that. The people sitting on billions today ended up where they are thanks to public policies that allowed that to happen. New policies like income splitting and expanding the Tax Free Savings Account contribution limits allow the gap to grow. Every policy a government introduces, or that a party includes in its election platform, needs to be assessed on the basis of whether it makes us a more equal society, or less. It's not about taxing and spending more, but how and what we tax, as well as what we spend it on. There's nothing natural or inevitable about the gap we have now. We are at a critical juncture where we can make different choices that will be better for all of us.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll