Opinion

Editorial: Lower income brackets being left behind

The recent StatsCan report trumpeting a 44.5 per cent increase in the worth of Canadians has left many, mostly lower-income Canadians, scratching their heads.

According to StatsCan, the net worth of Canadian families jumped to $243,800 in 2012 from $168,700 in 2005. In British Columbia, the median net worth of families is pegged at $344,000.

The statistics certainly paint a rosy picture for the Canadian middle class.

What most headlines avoid are the statistics for the people in the top and bottom 20 per cent.

In 1999, the median  net worth of individuals in the bottom 20 per cent was $1,300, while that of individuals in the top 20 per cent was $763,700.

In 2012, the median net worth of the bottom 20 per cent was $1,100, a drop of 15.4 per cent from 1999.

By contrast, the median net worth of the top 20 per cent in 2012 was 1,380,000, an increase of 80.7 per cent.

The report attributes the increase in median net worth for the higher quintiles to above-average increases in real estate values.

This explains why the lower quintile has not seen a dramatic increase in their net worth, they can’t afford to own real estate, much less now than in 1999.

The headlines may say Canadians are better off in 2012 than they were several years ago, but the reality is too many Canadians are actually worse off.

The disparity will continue to exist until an effective jobs plan is put in place, which includes improving access to affordable day care and eventually affordable housing.

 

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