Reducing Income Disparities and

Poverty remains a significant and growing problem in Canada. Income polarization is also increasing steadily, to a degree that could threaten social cohesion. Since technological advances and globalization both tend to increase inequalities as returns to unskilled labour decline, this is a problem that will not go away in the absence of significant policy action. It is also a problem, as our contributors stress, that is shared with many other developed countries, though recent increases in income inequality in Canada are towards the high end of the spectrum.

Mark Cameron has over 15 years’ experience working in government, consulting and industry, with a focus on public policy. He has worked for several MPs and Ministers, and in the Privy Council Office. He has also worked as a consultant on environmental and energy policy. From 2006 – 2009 he served as Director of Policy and Research and Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada. He later worked for Ontario Power Generation and recently joined Research In Motion as Director, Global Public Policy. Mark was educated at McGill University and the University of British Columbia.


Mark Cameron

Income inequality in Canada has increased over the past two decades, although the extent and effects of this widening inequality have become most apparent in the past several years. The 2008 financial crisis, and the recession which followed it, led to job and asset losses, especially among those in lower income groups. Many people became rapidly and abruptly aware of the precariousness of their financial position.

Read pages 1-6 in the section PDF

The government should continue to enhance the Working Income Tax Benefit

More than half of low-income households in Canada can be classified as “working poor”

Sherri Torjman is Vice-President of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. She has written in the areas of welfare reform, customized training, disability income and supports, the social dimension of sustainable development and community-
based poverty reduction. In 2006 she authored the book Shared Space: The Communities Agenda. She has advised the government on tax measures for people with disabilities as well as on childcare and disabilities more generally. In 2010 Sherri was a recipient of the Top 25 Canadians Award from the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.

Ken Battle is President of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. Before founding Caledon in 1992, he was Director of the National Council of Welfare, a citizens’ advisory body to the Minister of National Health and Welfare. Ken was educated at Queen’s University and the University of Oxford, and has taught at both Queen’s and Carleton. He has advised the federal government on key issues of social policy. Ken was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000 and the Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award in 2004.


Sherri Torjman and
Ken Battle

Canada has established a reputation throughout the world as a peace-loving and stable nation. Inside our borders, an equally bright image emerges. A recent survey by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) found that most Canadians consider themselves happy – or very happy – with their lot in life.1 On July 1 this year, Maclean’s released an article on why it is a great time to be living in Canada.

Read pages 14-20 in the section PDF

Andrew Sharpe is Executive Director of the Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living Standards, a non-profit research organization he founded in 1995. Prior to this he was Head of Research at the Canadian Labour Market and Productivity Centre and Chief, Business Sector Analysis, at the Department of Finance. He is also founder and Editor of the International Productivity Monitor and Executive Director of the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth. He received a PhD in economics from McGill University in 1982.


Andrew Sharpe

Most developed countries have experienced increased market income inequalities in recent decades. A large number of factors have been identified as contributing to this development. The decline in unionization has meant that fewer workers enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining, an equalizing force in income distribution. Governments in many instances have failed to raise minimum wages in line with overall wage gains, disadvantaging the worst paid workers. Deregulation has often hurt certain groups of workers such as truck drivers and air flight attendants, as has privatization of public services.

Read pages 7-13 in the section PDF

Erosion of public services will tend to increase inequality

Reducing Income Disparities and Polarization