B.C. income gap getting worse

A report from the B.C. government's own statistical agency says the gap between rich and poor in the province is growing and has become one of the worst in the country.

Province has the biggest gap between top and bottom 20 per cent in Canada

B.C. has the second highest income inequality in Canada, and the finance minister is okay with that 2:46

A new report echoes what Occupy protestors across B.C. were saying last year — there's a growing gap in the province between rich and poor.

And the report does not come from a left-leaning organization, but from BC Stats, the agency that crunches numbers for the provincial government.

In its weekly Infoline report, dated Friday, the BC Stats report cites two measurements of inequality in 2009.

The first measurement looks at household income and found that B.C. is second only to Alberta as having the greatest inequality of any province.

In the second measurement, B.C. ranked dead last, having the biggest gap between the top and bottom 20 per cent of income earners.

The report notes that the gap has increased since the early 1990s and that other provinces have had more success redistributing income through taxes and benefits.

The report is frank in framing the situation vis-a-vis the Occupy movement.

"Given the size and vehemence of the Occupy protests, one would suspect that the current income gap is too large," it says.

No apologies from finance minister

B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix said the report corroborates his comments over the past year.  

"With this report and all the other reports we've seen, it becomes harder and harder for the Liberal party to create the fiction that inequality is not growing in this province when clearly inequality is growing in dramatic ways," he said.

Dix said it's disturbing that the gap between rich and poor is growing, but he's glad BC Stats is now underlining that fact.

But B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon makes no apologies for the income gap in B.C., saying B.C.'s Liberal government has pursued a policy of encouraging high incomes through low taxes.

Falcon doesn't dispute the numbers in the study, but he takes issue with the analysis.

"I just have trouble with people saying, 'Oh, because there's a gap there that's must be a bad thing.' You know remember, as I mentioned earlier, and I'm not being flippant, but in Cuba they don't have any income inequality because they're all poor," he said.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies