Study: Canadian Poverty Rising Despite Economic Boom

Posted on Thursday, September 15 at 13:12 by attack beaver
The study was released Wednesday in New York. It is global in scope, and its Canadian section was written by an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The economist, Armine Yalnizyan, wrote that a weak Canadian government has consistently cut taxes for the well-off rather than investing in social services. "We're worse of now than we were when we wrote the 1948 declaration of human rights," she said in an interview. "There's more people waiting for food and shelter and education today. We're swimming in resources; what's going on?" Yalnizyan said the figure of 250,000 homeless comes from a 2002 report by the Commons finance committee. Among findings cited in the study: Between 1997 and 2003, Canada's economy was the fastest-growing among G-8 countries, increasing 55 per cent in real terms. Federal spending stands at 11 per cent of the economy, down from 16 per cent in 1993-94 - well below historic averages. Recent increases in spending have not offset the deep cuts of the 90s. Only 38 per cent of unemployed workers receive government benefits, down from 75 per cent in the early 90s. More than $1.7 million households live on less than $20,000 a year, and most are precariously housed. They do not own their own homes and spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. Cuts to post-secondary education and deregulation of fees have doubled or tripled tuition costs. Despite repeated promises, there is no national child care program. Yalnizyan said Ottawa has focused overwhelmingly on economic growth, dramatically limiting its role, and transferring money to the provinces without accountability or conditions. "Even when it was a majority it was a weak government, but now it is a minority that is a weak government confronted by deep regional friction." The statistics make a mockery of Canada's promises at the UN summit in Monterrey, Mexico, five years ago, she said. "Social programs are in more jeopardy than they were 10 years ago, and perhaps in more jeopardy than they were 40 years ago, and yet we've got vastly more resources."


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  1. Thu Sep 15, 2005 11:55 pm
    But it's such a nuanced poverty. So much better than American-style poverty.

  2. Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:31 am
    Don't you have anything better to do you fucking moron?

  3. by Patm
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 2:47 am
    Say it with me now, "Non Accellerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment" or, in real language, the unemployment quota to keep "inflation" low and corporate profits high.

  4. by avatar Dino
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 4:14 am
    When will people in Canada wake up and realize that the Liberals are the cause of the poverty we live in. 250,000 homeless people that number alone isn't even enough to get Liberals to stop voting Liberal. This country will keep going down hill until people wake up.

  5. by RPW
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 4:57 am
    With the growing disparity between the upper and lower economic classes (brought to you by your friendly neighbourhood liberal government - and would like to be brought to you by a not-so-friendly Conservative government), and a shinking middle class, doesn't it only make sense that poverty is on the rise.......?


  6. Fri Sep 16, 2005 5:37 am
    "Social programs are in more jeopardy than they were 10 years ago, and perhaps in more jeopardy than they were 40 years ago, and yet we've got vastly more resources."

    Yes indeed, more resources, better technology, communications skills, every modern convenience, and yet children that can't read and write, illness rising, people forced to work 2 and 3 part-time jobs and barely able to survive! Food banks demand rising, healthcare needs rising, and healthcare in decay, greed on the increase and corporate profits soaring. Guess the only thing missing is common sense, and the will to act!?

    If I stand for my country today...will my country be here to stand for me tomorrow?

  7. by RPW
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:00 am
    Over 16 years with Trudeau as prime minister, Canada's national debt "skyrocketed" by 1,200 per cent, from $17 billion to more than $200 billion. <br />
    <br />
    In the 8 subsequent years of Conservative government, with Brian Mulroney as Prime Minister for the best part of two terms, the national debt increased from $200 billion to $450 billion.<br />
    <br />
    Let's see now: <br />
    $175 billion over 16 years = $11 billion/yr. <br />
    $250 billion over 8 years = $31.25 billion/yr., or a touch under 3x the "worst" that Pierre could do.<br />
    <br />
    If the increase under Trudeau was a "skyrocket", then what Lyin' Brian used must have been a Saturn V rocket!.<br />
    <br />
    Canada's debt today stands at $570 billion<br />
    <a href=""></a><br />
    <br />
    And Peter C. Newman would paint B. Mulroney as a "rapscallion", when in fact he is nothing more than a hack lawyer who managed to get his hands on the money....<br />
    <a href=""></a><p>---<br>RickW

  8. by le c49
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:29 am
    Can someone explain to me how "child poverty" is categorized? I presume, that if a child is poor, then his or her parents are poor--so shouldn't it read "family poverty"? It concerns me that there are more and more social programs for women and children, yet they still seem to be effected by poverty. If one goes onto the government of canada's website, there are countless programs for women, children, aboriginals, and immigrants, but none for men, yet the former (groups) are still the most effected by poverty. Can anyone explain how or why this could be? Thanks. Christopher

  9. by RPW
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 2:40 pm
    <a href=""></a><p>---<br>RickW

  10. Fri Sep 16, 2005 3:55 pm
    So, when will people start asking questions on how much of that so called "economic boom" ends up in the pockets of multinationals and taken out of the country ? I've been trying to get the figures for years, but StatsCan claims there ain't none. Why? Don't the people of a country have the right to know how they're being taken to the cleaners? <br />
    <br />
    Here we come back to the simple physical law that wealth can not be created, only taken. Under the market economy system an ever dwindling percentage are the takers and an ever growing one the takees. The glories of Dickensian England.<br />
    <br />
    In any case, the sale of resources is not an income, not a boom, but the stupid squandering of capital. Something economists and politicians are unable to understand, while their corporate rulers are using it to the fullest. <br />
    <br />
    Meanwhile, neoclassical economists are filling the air with their phoney claims and figures, mistleading the public.<br />
    Last night I forwarded the enclosed article from the Scientific American to the Deep Integration story, but now I repost it here, in case it was missed. <br />
    <br />
    This propagandist claims large improvements in India and China, ignoring the fact that globalization ruined whole economic sectors in India, forcing tens of thousands into suicide and friends who go to China several times a year report an ever increasing traffic of luxury cars on the roads, balanced by incredible poverty, filth, misery and pollution in the countryside.<br />
    <br />
    The growing poverty of Canada, and all over the world, is the result of the neoclassical market economy theory, now the biggest crime wave in history, yet being taught in our universities as the "science of economics". Ed Deak, Big Lake, BC. <br />
    <br />
    <br />
    ------------------------------------------------------------------ <br />
    <br />
    August 22, 2005 <br />
    <br />
    By Jeffrey D. Sachs <br />
    <br />
    Market economics and globalization are lifting the bulk of humanity out of extreme poverty, but special measures are needed to help the poorest of the poor <br />
    <br />
    <a href=""></a> <br />
    <br />
    1996-2005 Scientific American, Inc. All rights reserved.<br />
    Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. <br />

  11. by mk
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 4:49 pm
    "Guess the only thing missing is common sense, and the will to act!?"

    These resources aren't resources. To employ these resources takes money, and despite the appearance of money, there isn't money. Despite our supposed capitalist mentality, issuance of credit whose application leads to a reduction in the future need for credit (what one might call capitalization) seems to take a back seat to creation of debt for its own sake.

    Example: governments are more than willing to use our tax dollars to float the interest on privately-held student loan debt. However, they seem far less willing to direct that money against the principle, either by subsidizing prices or directing grants. This would effectively take business away from the banks--which begs many, many questions about their social utility, at least under current rules (CAPpers, soap-box?).

    Another example: if you were a banker with a 10-year-lookahead crystal ball, would you have issued one penny of debt for the purchase of gas-guzzling SUVs? Sadly, yes, probably every penny. The risk of bad debt write-offs are all part of the equation and the prevailing rates, a massive socialization of risk with the upside going to the bank. On the other hand, a fuel efficient vehicle reduces the need to earn, and the need to borrow, and thus reduces the need for the amount of debt-backed money supply in circulation.

    My point is, all these resources cannot be effectively employed without a medium of exchange that (to be darwinian) selects for improved efficiency, minimization of expenses, and optimal allocation of *real* resources. Governors of our monetary system pay lip service to these concepts, but seem throttled by a motivation to not risk existing debt (in the vernacular, good money gets thrown after bad).

    Hypothetically, suppose you go to a bank and say "I'd like you to finance the following feasible project, which is secured by real assets, and which, when completed and note repaid, will ensure I never, ever have to do business with you or your competitors ever again"? How do you think that will turn out? Now imagine everyone doing it at once.

  12. by mk
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 5:16 pm
    Ed, I'll follow your post here too. I'm not one of his nominal fan club, but Sachs categorically does NOT ignore the ruin that globalization has caused. In fact this article specifically mentions how the lack of committment to untied foreign aid, and reliance on standard, dogmatic, neoliberal explanations for global poverty (such as corruption and lack of FDI-friendly rules) are lame excuses not prime factors.

    Remember, Sachs is mostly targeting other economists with this article, and to many of these even these cautious words would probably be considered heretical. Small wonder this was published in Scientific American and not The Economist.

    In other words--you think you're offended? Show this article to a neocon and they'd likely go ballistic. It would be sad enough if this article *was* orthodox, but it isn't.

  13. Fri Sep 16, 2005 5:19 pm
    Then who the hell is buying all those ultra expensive homes?
    Home ownership is rising in Canada.Somebody is paying up.Who?
    Why do all kids have cell phones?Who pays?Yes there are problems,but....
    Somebody is buying and paying for those expensive toys.So there is a large chunk making a lot of money.Canada is one of the fastest growing markets for ultra expensive cars,(Rolls-Royce,Ferrari etc.)Where did that market come from?Something is obviously right.

  14. by mk
    Fri Sep 16, 2005 5:33 pm
    Not if aggregate debt levels are increasing lock-step. Far more people are also leveraging more heavily against their futures as well. Especially in real estate.

    Liquid credit markets have lead to liquid consumer markets. I understand the bankruptcy and repo-rate is way up, too. If true, then simply tracking sales of stuff as an indicator of long-term economic health is useless at best.

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