Who are Canada’s one per cent?

OttawaCitizen.com – business
October 20, 2011.   By Jason Fekete, Postmedia News

The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread to more than 80 countries around the world and across Canada. The protesters say they’re upset the top one per cent of earners are improving their incomes at the expense of the remaining 99 per cent, with many middle-and lowincome earners left behind. Jason Fekete examines their claims.

WHO IS IN THE TOP ONE PER CENT IN CANADA?

Individual Canadians who make approximately $200,000 annually in total income are considered in the top one per cent of earners, while $100,000 in annual income will put you in the top five per cent, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada.

WHAT SHARE OF THE WEALTH IS THE TOP ONE PER CENT COLLECTING IN CANADA?

In 2009 (the most recent data), the top one per cent of Canadian earners took home approximately 11 per cent of total income in the country, with that number remaining fairly constant over the previous decade. Further, the top quintile (20 per cent) of Canadian earners (aged 16 and older) received 51 per cent of total income, while the top two quintiles (40 per cent) of earners made 75 per cent of the total income in Canada.

HOW MUCH IS THE TOP ONE PER CENT IN CANADA PAYING IN TAXES?

Statistics Canada data show the top one per cent of income earners paid 18 per cent of total taxes in 2004 (the most recent numbers available for that topic). The majority of individual earners in the top one per cent have been paying tax rates of around 26 per cent to 38 per cent, although the tax brackets can range both higher and lower.

William Watson, an economist at McGill University and Citizen columnist, said he doesn’t believe the rich in Canada are increasing their incomes at the expense of the poor, but much of their income certainly appears to be coming from the “less rich,” including the middle class. “If someone is able to take out an unfair income, it’s coming from someone and it’s coming from somewhere,” Watson said. “You can’t get rich exploiting the poor.”

WHAT HAS BEEN THE WEALTH TREND IN CANADA?

A 2008 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said “the rich have been getting richer” in Canada, “leaving both middle and poorer income classes behind.” The report (which is to be updated in the next few weeks) found “inequality of household earnings (in Canada) has increased significantly,” with only Germany experiencing a similar rate of increase over a 10-year period. It also found poverty in Canada “increased rapidly” over the decade and was above the OECD average.

A recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think-tank, found that the 246,000 earners who ranked among Canada’s richest one per cent took home about one-third of all growth in income between 1997 and 2007.

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