Income Equality Matters to All of Us

More and more reports tell us that income inequality in Canada is growing. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider while the number of quality jobs and public services is shrinking. Today it is estimated that over 4.5 million Canadians are living in poverty: 36% are aboriginal women, 35% are visible minority women, 21% are single mothers and 14% are older women. Saying these numbers out loud is chilling.

Infographic - Poverty and Income InequalityIn what has become a rite of passage for many immigrants, my family also got caught up in a vicious cycle of struggle for at least three years after arriving in Canada. The employer/landlord catch 22 became overly familiar: to get a job “we needed Canadian experience” and to find a place to call home we needed an employer on file to prove affordability. With very little money and no income at the time, finding affordable housing was a nightmare. Between short-term contracts and other survival jobs when we did find employment we never really had enough to cover our basic needs. If it was not worrying about money for food or rent it was negotiating between food and rent against education. Many times throughout those years our dreams had to be put on hold or were abandoned completely because our economic reality could not support them.

From experience, I know that poverty robs life so it does not surprise me that there is a negative relationship between income inequality and population health. A study by McMaster University found that the poorest residents in Hamilton, Ontario had a life expectancy that was 21 years lower than the wealthiest residents.

So in this federal election I ask, if all lives matter, if all our children matter, why are 21 years taken away from some members of our community?

To eliminate poverty and inequality requires action. We call on all federal part leaders to:

  • Create well-paying jobs
  • Build more affordable housing
  • Invest in programs that help women move out of poverty
  • Give every child the opportunity to thrive by investing in early childhood education and affordable child care
  • Respect women’s work and implement the necessary policies that ensure we are paid equally

Help build the political will to end income inequality.


Emma Namenya is the Executive Coordinator at YWCA Toronto.