EDMONTON – Analysis by the Parkland Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives of new data on Canada’s richest 1% shows that Alberta has become the country’s most unequal province and Calgary its most unequal city.
The new data shows that incomes (adjusted for inflation) for the top 1% of Albertan doubled between 1982 and 2010, posting a shocking increase of $320,000. By comparison, the bottom 90% of Albertans saw their incomes increase by a total of only $3,900 over the same time period.
“These numbers reinforce what we’ve been saying for the last few years,” says Parkland’s Research Director Shannon Stunden Bower. “Only a small number of Albertans are seeing the benefits of the province’s natural resource wealth and prosperity.”
The result of this growth in income for the richest of the rich has meant a drastic increase in the gap between them and everyone else. In 1982 Alberta’s top 1% had incomes 10 times larger than the bottom 90%. By 2010 that ratio had jumped to 18 times.
The data is especially striking for the city of Calgary, which largely drove the provincial trend. The top 1% of Calgarians saw an increase in real income of $570,000 between 1982 and 2010, while the bottom 90% saw an increase in real pay of only $2,000 over the same 28 year period.
The growing spread between these groups made Calgary by far the most unequal city in the country with the top 1% bringing in 26 times what the bottom 90% did in 2010.
Although not as extreme as Calgary’s, Edmonton also saw an increase in inequality. The top 1% of Edmontonians saw their real incomes increase $209,000 since 1982 while the increase for the bottom 90% was only $3,000.
“The numbers for Calgary in particular will hopefully put an end to the myth that the province’s mad rush to develop and export our natural resources as quickly as possible is in the public interest,” said Parkland’s Calgary Research Manager David Campanella. “Hopefully Premier Redford and the provincial government will keep that reality in mind as they prepare this year’s budget and consider how to create economic growth that allows everyone to prosper.”