We are concerned that the income gap between the richest and poorest Canadians has been growing dramatically over the last 20 years.
The research shows that this growing gap is making our economy more unstable, damaging the social fabric of our country, and diminishing the living standards of Canadians.
We believe that the over-riding goal of any government budget must be to introduce measures that reduce this growing gap.
We are calling on governments to publish alongside their budget a Fairness Test which would evaluate the income inequality effects of the main policies in their budget.
The Fairness Test would be a transparent and verifiable way for the public to hold their governments accountable for policies that increase the growing gap rather than reduce it.
Here is a specific statement about the Fairness Test which we are asking governments and all political leaders to endorse.
Income inequality in Canada (the gap between the richest and poorest Canadians) has been dramatically growing over the last two decades, while the incomes of most Canadians have stagnated.
This trend is contributing to greater economic instability, damaging the social fabric of our country and diminishing the quality of life for Canadians. It is a disturbing trend that must be addressed by governments.
Because of the current economic recession, which was caused by recklessness in the private financial sector, governments in Canada are running budget deficits. This is the right course for tough economic times – it is essential to provide quality public services, create jobs and avoid an even deeper recession.
However, governments have declared that, as the economy begins to recover, deficit elimination will be a top priority. It is critical that governments do not choose policies that will increase income inequality and cause serious long-term damage to our society and economy.
Therefore, all governments in Canada (municipal, provincial and federal) must commit to publishing a Fairness Test alongside every budget. The Fairness Test would be a transparent and verifiable evaluation of the income inequality effects of the policy measures contained in a government budget.
The Fairness Test would allow the public to hold their governments accountable for any budget decisions regarding tax policies, spending priorities and transfer payments to individuals that will lead to greater income inequality.