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CTV News: Poverty, inequality rates jump in Canada: OECD

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:49pm
Poverty and inequality rates have increased rapidly in Canada since 1995, reaching levels higher than the average developed country, says a report from an international organization of 30 countries.

The report, released Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), found the gap between Canada's rich and poor widened more than in most developed countries between 1995 and 2005.

During the 10 year period examined, the average income of the richest 10 per cent of Canadians was US$71,000, one third higher than the OECD average of US$54,000.

Canada's poor and middle classes were also richer than the OECD average, with average incomes higher by 18 per cent.

According to Statistics Canada, the median income in 2006, after taxes, was $58,300 -- an increase of 2.1 per cent from the previous year.

Meanwhile, poverty (meaning people who live on less than half median incomes) in Canada has increased for all age groups, by about 2 to 3 percentage points to an overall rate of 12 per cent.

According to the report, 15 per cent of children are living in poverty and 6 per cent of adults.

"After 20 years of continuous decline, both inequality and poverty rates have increased rapidly in the past 10 years (in Canada), now reaching levels above the OECD average," says the report.
Although poverty rates are high, fewer Canadian households than in other countries struggle to purchase basic goods and to have decent housing and other living conditions.

The report says 20 per cent of the increase in the inequality of household earnings is linked to changes in the age and household structure of the Canadian population -- such as growing shares of single-parent families or people living alone.

Overall, the report found the gap between rich and poor has grown in more than three-quarters of member countries in the past two decades.

In some countries, including Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway and the U.S., the gap also increased between the rich and the middle-class.

"Growing inequality is divisive. It polarizes societies, it divides regions within countries, and it carves up the world between rich and poor," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said Tuesday in a press release.

Gurría said "ignoring increasing inequality is not an option."

Article originally posted here.

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