How Canada recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic can be a new beginning.
1. Rich people are getting richer and inequality is spiralling out of control
While millions of Canadians continue to struggle due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic — with low-wage workers hit the hardest — the 20 wealthiest Canadians collectively got richer since the pandemic began. According to economist Alex Hemmingway, a whopping $37 billion richer to be precise. And that number just keeps on climbing. If we look at a bigger sample, Canadians for Tax Fairness reported that Canada’s wealthiest 44 billionaires grew their wealth by $53 billion between April-October 2020.
The bottom line is that a number of big corporations have been profiting from the Covid-19 pandemic, which illustrates how our tax system is rigged for the rich. Oxfam international’s recently released annual Inequality Report further highlights how the pandemic is exacerbating the inequality crisis. While the world’s wealthiest have already recovered any losses they “suffered” during COVID-19, it could take the world’s poorest over a decade to recover from the economic impacts.
This simply doesn’t work when millions of people are increasingly struggling to make ends meet. We’re now in a world where extreme wealth is growing (and fast), increasing the wealth gap between the rich and the poor along the way.
“Rigged economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in luxury, while those on the front line of the pandemic — shop assistants, health care workers, and market vendors — are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.”Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director, Oxfam
2. Canadians (and ultra-rich people too) want to see this happen
Canadians want to see this happen: a recent survey revealed that 67% of the population already supports taxing those who have disproportionately profited from the pandemic.
There’s more: a number of ultra-rich actually want to pay more taxes! That’s right, a group of 83 of the world’s richest people have called on governments to permanently increase their taxes, along with those of other members of the wealthy elite, to help pay for the economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. If that’s what people want, what is the government waiting for?
3. We need the money to pay for a green and just recovery
“A green and just recovery is the opportunity for the federal government to kickstart a new economy that helps solve the climate emergency and biodiversity crises, while ensuring fair wages, employment protections and social safety nets for all people living in Canada.”
In other words, the money collected from a wealth tax could be invested where it’s needed most right now in these times of crisis. We could strengthen our local food security, ensure more jobs that protect nature and make universal basic income a reality.
For a more detailed idea of how tax fairness laws could help pay for a green and just recovery from COVID-19, check out the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Alternative Federal Budget Recovery Plan.
Ultimately the recovery should profit all of us, not make the ultra rich even richer.
4- FOMOs: There’s a global movement
There’s a global movement for tax justice right now and a number of countries including Argentina and Bolivia have already implemented wealth taxes to pay for the recovery from the global pandemic. This societal change that would contribute to levelling the playing field is possible. Elsewhere in Latin America, The United States and Germany proposals are being seriously considered.
As you read these lines, a number of experts and organizations are joining forces worldwide to take back control over our tax system, through initiatives like the Tax Justice Network, LATINDADD — and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Canadians for Tax Fairness here in Canada. The moment is ripe to make the fiscal rules in Canada contribute to creating a just society that gives equal weight to everyone’s needs, without privileging the wants of the very rich.