“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” – that’s just the way life is, right? In fact, Canada’s history shows that increasing inequality is not inevitable. For most of the 20th century, inequality decreased in Canada, and we grew into a prosperous, middle class society that held out a noble promise: with a little hard work and education, we all could aspire to a better life. The last three decades, though, have produced a tectonic economic shift— the middle is being squeezed, the poor are losing ground, and the rich are taking a bigger share of growth than at any time since the 1920s. What does this mean for our future well-being? Yalnizyan takes us on a tour of the research, connecting the dots between economics, inequality and democracy— challenging the very notion of the Canadian dream.
Armine Yalnizyan is a senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the author of the recent report The rise of Canada’s Richest 1%.