"We’re calling on the premiers to do what Prime Minister Stephen Harper won’t: help the struggling middle class,” says NUPGE National President James Clancy.
Ottawa (29 Jan. 2015) — As Canada’s premiers prepare to meet in Ottawa on January 30, the country’s major provincial public sector unions are together calling on them to make the fight against income inequality a priority by instituting fairness tests for all their budget and policy decisions.
“The federal government continues to enact policies like income splitting that only benefit the rich,” says James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “But our provincial governments continue to wield power in this country, and so we’re calling on the premiers to do what Prime Minister Stephen Harper won’t: help the struggling middle class.”
Income inequality remains one of the world's most pressing problems
Income inequality is the term economists and social scientists use to measure the wealth gap between the rich and poor in a society. It’s been rising in countries around the world — including Canada — over the past generation, bringing with it a host of social problems. Academics, bank CEOs, progressive politicians, and even the Pope have called it one of the world’s most pressing problems.
Canada isn’t immune. According to the latest figures available from Statistics Canada, income inequality rose by 9.1 per cent between 1987 and 2011. In some provinces, it grew by even more over that same period: by 10.4 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, 12.7 per cent in Ontario, and 15 per cent in Alberta.
Fairness tests help ensure everybody benefits from government policy
To begin lowering income inequality, Clancy has formally called on the premiers to enact fairness tests that would assess the impact on income inequality of key tax and spending policy decisions. Modelled on similar fairness tests advocated by progressive and citizen-focussed groups in the United Kingdom, provincial fairness tests would help ensure that the good of everybody in the province — not just of corporations and the rich — are taken into account during budget deliberations.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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