Monday, November 20, 2006

On those left out

The CCPA discusses the consequences of our spend first, ask questions later culture, as despite reported economic growth nearly half of Canadians see themselves as within a couple of paycheques of poverty:
"These are the good days, man, they're as good as it gets, and to have half of Canadians say they were one or two pay cheques away from poverty, that was an astonishing number," said Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

"To put it in context, we've had 10 years of the hottest economy in the G8, we've had the lowest interest rates of 40 years and the lowest unemployment rate for about 35 years."

The polling firm Environics conducted the telephone poll of 2,021 Canadians for the policy alternatives centre, a left-leaning think tank. The survey is to be released today but an advance copy was given to CanWest News Service.

The survey, which reports that 49 per cent of Canadians either strongly or somewhat believe they'd be poverty stricken if they missed one or two pay cheques, underscores past studies showing that Canada has gone from a nation of savers to spenders, with a record level of personal and household debt, said Yalnizyan.

Adding to the insecurity is that there has been an enormous growth in contract and casual workers who do not have permanent jobs, she said.

Sixty-five per cent of those surveyed also said that most of the benefit from the country's recent economic growth has gone to the well-off rather than average Canadians.
Of course, growing inequality and a precarious won't stop Canada's leading right-wing ideologues from trying to dismantle our social supports entirely.

But from the CCPA's survey, there can be no doubt that a large number of Canadians see themselves as left out of the reported economic boom. And if any substantial number from that group actually winds up facing the anticipated effects of a downturn, then there may be a stronger public outcry in favour of reasonable redistribution of wealth than Canada has seen for a long time.

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