As millions of Canadians suffer the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s top 20 billionaires have raised a combined total of $ 37 billion in the most catastrophic six months in Canada’s economic history, according to a study by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives. (Image: iStock / Feodora Chiosea)
Throughout this pandemic, we have often heard the phrase: “we are all in the same boat”. But according to Michal Rozworksi, research associate at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and co-author of a recent report on the financial inequities created by the pandemic, that premise is far from true.
“It is clear that the wealthy minority lives in a very different world from the rest of us. “Michal Rozworksi
Researchers Alex Hemingway et Michal Rozworski CCPA examined the difference between the current wealth of billionaires and the report Forbes last year (a snapshot from February 8, 2019), as some of those on the list saw their wealth decline temporarily when the stock markets plunged in March of this year.
With these increases, the total wealth of Canada’s top 20 billionaires now stands at $ 178 billion. “ Alex Hemingway et Michal Rozworski
According to the two researchers who carried out this comparative study, these data reflect the increasingly clear separation between the stock market and the real economy.
Overall, Hemingway and Rozworski conclude, Canadian workers continue to suffer from the economic effects of the crisis, while billionaires benefit.
On the other hand, low-paid workers are the most affected, and Statistics Canada data shows that women and racialized Canadians are over-represented among these workers.
A tax on the wealthy
Hemingway and Rozworksi argue fora wealth tax, a vigorous campaign against tax havens and corporate tax reform, stating that all of this is essential for greater economic equity in Canada.
“Even before the pandemic, Canadian billionaires owned nearly 4,500 times the wealth of a typical family. An emergency tax on surplus assets at any given time and an annual wealth tax should be among the proposals. “Alex Hemingway, economist and public finance analyst in the British Columbia office of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives and lead author of the report.
The public has been very supportive of measures that would ignore billionaires to support workers in this survey conducted in late May and early June and commissioned by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives in British Columbia.
- 59% of respondents favoring an “increase in the minimum wage for all frontline workers in retail to $ 20 an hour immediately”.
- 77% of the public was also very supportive of the obligation for all employers to grant paid sick leave to their workers.
- 83% support strengthening health and safety protection measures for all workers.
Hemingway also notes that while multi-million dollar wealth has recovered and increased, millions of Canadians are grappling with the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The most important gains concern the fortune of the Thomson family, owner, among others, of the Thomson Reuters press agency, with a increase estimated at $ 8.8 billion. Tobi Dolls de Shopify follows closely with an increase of 6.6 billion. This is akin to some of the gains amassed by tech giants like Amazon and Apple south of the border.
The Weston family, owner of Loblaws, the largest supermarket chain in the country, ranked third, while Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, recorded a gain of nearly $ 3 billion. (The full ranking follows below. The data for the report comes from the annual list of billionaires of Forbes).
“At the same time that billionaires like Loblaws owner Galen Weston saw their fortunes swell, the front-line workers who fill the shelves and scan the grocery stores in his stores have continued to risk their health and the health of those close to them by coming to work. “Alex Hemingway
To add insult to injury, he adds, frontline grocery store workers have seen their $ 2 an hour “emergency wage hike” disappear, while grocery store owners have made huge profits. .
During the first weeks of the pandemic, the international tax competition initiative TaxCoop wanted to verify the reaction of these ultrariches when we are experiencing the greatest economic crisis of the century. It is clear that not only are these billionaires getting richer, but they are giving very little back to society.
“Whether it is the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon et Microsoft) or the “top 5” Canadian billionaires, they are in industries that have profited from the crisis, whether in cyberspace or in the food industry. We realize that not only donations are not there, but that these same people have taken advantage of the crisis. ” Brigitte Alepin, tax specialist and tax policy specialist at TaxCoop
With information from the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives and TaxCoop.
In addition :