Canada’s top 20% own over 67% of the wealth | National Union of Public and General Employees

Canada’s top 20% own over 67% of the wealth

“Each new release of statistics confirms our worst fears about the failure of the global economic system. The rich are getting richer, and income inequality is steadily growing. And what’s also morally unconscionable is that our elected representatives are doing nothing to stop it.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (13 Dec. 2017) — According to new wealth data released by Statistics Canada, inequality continues to persist between rich and poor.

In a recent posting on the Progressive Economics Forum, Andrew Jackson (former Chief Economist with the Canadian Labour Congress), argues that there was little or no media coverage of data released last week on the distribution of the wealth of Canadians in 2016. He adds, this is “perhaps because there has been little or no change since the last Survey of Financial Security in 2012.”

Top 20% of Canadians own over 67% of wealth

According to Statistics Canada, there was $10.3 trillion in wealth in Canada in 2016, and Jackson observes that more than two-thirds of it is owned by the top 20%. Jackson points out that the top 20% of Canadians own 67.3% of all net worth (assets of all kinds, minus liabilities), which we can also call their wealth. This is almost exactly the same as in 2012. In other words, the net worth of Canada’s wealthiest 20% accounted for almost $7 trillion (67.3%) of the total $10.3 trillion. On the other hand, Jackson notes that the bottom 20% of Canadians have no net worth, and the bottom 40% collectively own just 2.3% of all net worth.

Jackson also explains that the top 20% also own 74.6% of all financial assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.) held outside of RRSPs and registered pension plans, while the bottom 40% collectively own just 3.5% of such assets. Financial assets outside of pensions total $1.4 trillion.

And the statistics are even worse if we examine the 1%

Jackson added that the new data does not detail the breakdown within the top 20%. Even within this group, wealth is highly concentrated in the hands of the top 10% and top 1%.

As NUPGE reported on November 20, according to a November 15 Statistics Canada survey on high-income trends, the highest-paid Canadians received a larger share of the country's total income in 2015 because corporate dividends helped boost their earnings. The top 1% of tax filers held 11.2% of Canada’s total income in 2015, up from 10.3% in 2014. 

Failure of global economic system obscene

“This is obscene,” said Larry Brown. “It's a moral outrage." He explained that "each new release of statistics confirms our worst fears about the failure of the global economic system. The rich are getting richer, and income inequality is steadily growing. And what’s also morally unconscionable is that our elected representatives are doing nothing to stop it. Worse, by doing nothing they are helping to perpetuate income and wealth inequality.”


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE