Today is Blog Action Day and bloggers across the world will be discussing inequality.
Last night a friend of mine and I were talking, after a meeting where the agenda was dominated by ideas promoting the sustainability of the mixed-income housing co-operative in which we both live. Our conversation turned to the BC teachers’ strike, which we agreed was a lost opportunity to focus public attention on the real issue plaguing the province’s education system, the steady loss of equality of education. These discussions share more than concern for the well-being of systems we rely on; they are connected to the growth of inequality across Canada.
Much of the conversation about inequality centres on the concentration of wealth that’s on the rise here. But that’s not the whole story, as the focus of our public infrastructure is changing to mirror those shifts in income. Our system is starving the institutions that benefit all, while promoting those that are accessible only to those who can pay.
- The gaps in K-12 education have been growing more recently, but access to university education has been declining since the 1990s.
- In Canada, the push toward healthcare privatization has been going on for decades, but has come to a head with the recent court case that moves to the Supreme Court next spring. If successful, it would open up Canada’s healthcare system to private insurance and the kind of tiered care that Americans experience. In the meantime, monthly premiums are on the rise.
- Housing costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable, exacerbated by the destruction of existing housing stock in places like Vancouver and Toronto. There are fewer affordable rental units in Canadian cities and mixed-income co-ops are losing their access to the federal subsidy funds that protected the housing of their poorest members.
- For those who most need help, access to employment insurance is falling faster than unemployment. Social assistance rates are inadequate and it’s estimated that 4 million Canadians don’t have adequate food security.
- Our First Nations are disproportionately affected by all of these problems and by serious inadequacies in basic necessities like housing and drinking water.
Canada is in danger of losing its social safety net and any hope of equality of opportunity for future generations. Exercises like the CCPA’s Alternative Budget show potential for a way out of these inequalities, but it’s going to require the political will of ordinary Canadians.
You can see more posts from around the world on inequality via Blog Action Day’s participant list. One of their partners, Oxfam, has a stream of some of the best posts in Storify. There’s even a WordPress daily prompt round up.