Progress Summit

Poll: Canadians deeply concerned by growing inequality

Broad support for tax increases on corporations and high earners
Photo: AshtonPal

A new poll released this morning shows that Canadians think income inequality is growing, with over three-quarters seeing the issue as a big concern.

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Of Canadians surveyed, 73 per cent said their and their family’s economic situation had stayed the same or gotten worse over the past two years, while 68 per cent did not expect it to improve over the next two years.The poll, conducted by Strategic Communications, was made public at the Broadbent Institute’s Progress Summit in Ottawa.

Asked who benefits from today’s economy, 67 per cent fingered the wealthiest Canadians. Despite the Trudeau government’s rhetorical focus on the middle class, only 11 per cent of respondents identified the middle class as benefiting from today’s economy.

Over two-thirds of Canadians also backed a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Eighty-two per cent of Canadians think the gap between the rich and everyone else is growing, and 84 per cent think that’s a problem.

Asked who is to blame for growing income inequality, around half of respondents identified a tax system that benefits richer Canadians, as well as government policies that favour big business at the expense of everyone else.

Large majorities supported closing tax loopholes and tax havens, a new tax bracket for high-income earners, a more progressive income tax system and restoration of corporate taxes to pre-Harper levels. Over two-thirds of Canadians also backed a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“Canadians are feeling the impacts of increasing inequality and want to see the government address the cost of living and the growing gap between the rich and everyone else,” said Stratcom president and CEO Bob Penner in a release. “They are worried about Trump, and how good a job the government will do standing up to him. While Trudeau remains popular, our polling shows there are chinks in that armour, and growing income inequality and how the government deals with the U.S. President are two of them.”

On immigration, the news was less positive. Over two-thirds of Canadians supported screening immigrants for Canadian values, and around the same number want to see stricter rules and a focus on highly skilled immigrants. Respondents were evenly divided on whether to allow refugees fleeing the U.S. to remain in Canada. Nonetheless, 70 per cent of Canadians support maintaining or increasing current levels of immigration.

In announcing the results at the Broadbent Institute’s Progress Summit, Penner said it was unclear whether these reflected underlying attitudes, or whether the Trump administration was swaying Canadians.

The poll of over 2,000 Canadians was conducted online in French and English from March 15 to 17, 2017. The full report can be downloaded here.

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