Carol Goar, in today's Toronto Star, writes that two recent reports highlight the new solitudes in Canadian society. One report comes from the Toronto Dominion Bank, the other from Food Banks Canada. TD proclaims:
“Canadian corporate balance sheets are solid as a rock,” the bank assured its clients in a special report. “Unlike households and governments, companies are less vulnerable today than they were heading into the 2007-2008 financial crisis.”
Food Banks Canada reports that:
Food bank use has increased 31 per cent since the economy plunged into recession four years ago and it continues to climb. In the past 12 months alone, an additional 20,000 Canadians turned to charity to eat.
The contrast couldn't be starker. Goar writes:
The two snapshots — one from a Bay Street office tower, one from a Mimico warehouse — depict starkly different Canadas. Not only are they separated by a yawning income chasm. Their priorities and values are so far apart that there is no common ground, no basis for conversation.
These reports have been made public as the House of Commons gets set to approve the Canada-China trade treaty which, the government admits, first and foremost protects investors from both countries. And this week Stephen Harper is in India trying to drum up the same kind of agreement. It's pretty clear whose interests Mr. Harper is promoting:
Until about a decade ago, politicians acted as a bridge between the two Canadas. They accepted their responsibility to speak for all of their constituents regardless of socio-economic class or political allegiance. Today, MPs and MPPs have abandoned that role — with a few honourable exceptions — leaving it to think-tanks, social agencies, unions, voluntary organizations, a few progressive economists and a handful of concerned public figures.
Mr. Harper claims that he is creating jobs. But the Food Banks report offers some insight into the kinds of jobs he is creating -- "18% of employed Canadians -- almost one in five -- earn less than $17,000 a year."
No country can sustain this kind of inequality.