Gap between rich and poor growing in Ontario

A new report says the gap between the rich and poor in Canada's largest province is widening and governments need to step in and take measures to correct the problem.

A report released Wednesday says the gap between rich and poor in Ontario is growing.

The report was prepared by a coalition of 90 labour and community groups who call themselves the Ontario Common Front. 

It reaches the conclusion that job losses, tax changes and reduced spending on social programs are all contributing to Ontario's growing income disparity. 

Author Natalie Mehra says it's not just the poor that are feeling the pain in Canada's largest province — the middle class has seen its earning power stagnate or drop.

"Those parts of the middle class that have gained, have gained very, very little. Just a tiny $1,000, or so, over an entire generation.  What's really happened is that the top 10 per cent have galloped away with the bounty of the last couple of decades of economic growth," she said.

Mehra says Ontario has one of the longest wait lists in the country for subsidized housing and the lowest per capita spending on public programs in the country.

"Provinces with much smaller economies are doing much better in funding the programs and services that everybody needs," she said. 

The groups behind the report say it's time to address how much Ontario has fallen behind other provinces and take steps to correct it.

The reports suggests restoring corporate tax rates to 2009 levels, make the two per cent surtax on high income earners permanent, as well as close a number of tax loopholes. 

The combined effect would be billions more in government coffers, the report concludes.