Wealth disparity worst in Alberta, study concludes
Report blames boom-bust cycles, tax policies, minimum wage and education levels
Despite Alberta's booming economy, the disparity of wealth in the province is growing faster than almost anywhere else in the country, suggests a report released Thursday.
"As social workers, we see first-hand the negative impacts of inequality in this province as we work to support Alberta’s most vulnerable and marginalized on a daily basis," said Lori Sigurdson, with the Alberta College of Social Workers which assembled the report with the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute.
According to the report:
- 87 per cent of earnings in the province goes to the top half of families.
- The top 10 per cent of Alberta families get 28 per cent of after-tax income, while the bottom 10 per cent of families get only 1.7 per cent;
- The top one per cent of Alberta earners have an average income of $675,200 compared to an average of $353,100 for the top one per cent nationally.
- The median income in Alberta in 2009 was $68,100, while the median income among Alberta CEOs was just under $2.5 million.
- Albertans consistently work longer hours, with less time off and holidays, than almost anyone else in the developed world.
The author of the report attributes the disparity to Alberta’s low minimum wage, inadequate social assistance, and the province's boom-bust cycles.
Diana Gibson also points to lower education levels in the province and tax policies that reinforce wealth concentration rather than redistribution.