Income inequality in Canada making headlines

The Globe and Mail has created the Wealth Paradox series to educate Canadians about the enormous impact of income inequality in our nation today.  The piece is extremely readable and filled with edifying examples of how inequality is negatively affecting Canadians’ access to education, health care, and even recreation.  Further, it looks at solutions.  While the simplicity and directness of the series may be criticized by some who expect more nuance in such discussions, I believe that its strength lies in its accessibility (to those who can afford to subscribe to the Globe and Mail, but that’s a conversation for another time).  This is something that we need to be talking about.

 

 

The oldest Montreal study of relative poverty

In 1897, Herbet Brown Ames published the first known studies of poverty in Canada. The study looked at the present day Griffintown neighborhood of Montreal. In addition to chapters on composition of family, homes, rental market, density and crowding, religions and deathrates, Ames conducted an analysis of income poverty. His work bears some resemblance to the later developed low income lines we study today.

We have already learned that there are 7671 families resident within ‘the city below the hill’. As near as can be ascertained these families receive, each week, an aggregate amount of not less than eight-five thousand dollars. This means eleven dollars per week to each family. We have also found that these families include 37,652 persons. This gives, on average, an allowance of two dollars and a quarter per week to each individual. Eleven dollars per family, two and a quarter dollars per individual, these then are the standards of average living in ‘the city below the hill’. (p. 32.)

Ames, H. B. (1897). The city below the hill: A sociological study of a portion of the city of Montreal, Canada. Bishop Engraving and Printing.
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