(Vancouver) The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released an analysis today of wealth distribution in Canada by region. The regional numbers, obtained by special order from Statistics Canada and the only data of their kind ever published, show that deep inequalities in the distribution of wealth exist across Canada, but especially in BC.
BC is home to both the highest average wealth in Canada and the largest gap between the richest and poorest households. The wealthiest 10% of family units held 54.6% of the province's personal wealth at last count (compared to 53% nationally) and the top 50% held 95.7% (compared to 94.4% nationally). The bottom 50% of British Columbians hold only 4.3% of personal wealth. Average wealth for the richest 10% is almost $1.4 million, while the poorest 10% hold average net debt of $8,126, worse than in any other region except the Atlantic. The gap between richest and poorest in BC is significantly higher than in any other region.
"These numbers debunk the myth that BC has been a tough place to be rich," says Steve Kerstetter, a research associate with the CCPA and a former director of the National Council of Welfare. "Clearly, the wealthiest in BC are doing very well. And its not just a small number of poor people who are being left behind. These numbers underline the tenuous financial position of a surprisingly large portion of the population."
Kerstetter says he is concerned with the direction taken by the current provincial government. "One of the major challenges facing BC is how to deal with the problem of inequality. Tax cuts that primarily benefit high income earners, cuts to government spending, and a so-called training wage are policies that contribute to greater inequality. Before going any further, the government needs to re-evaluate its policy direction in light of these numbers."