A Fairness Test to Address Income Inequality
Dec 23, 2013
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is asking affiliates and opinion leaders to draft letters to their provincial governments in support of the idea of a “fairness test” to assess the impact of tax and spending policies in provincial budgets on income inequality.
Income inequality has become one of the major social policy issues across Canada. Every day, more and more academics and policy experts seem to highlight the need for governments to take action to reduce the income inequality of citizens.
As NUPGE members have confirmed, Canadians do not feel better off as a result of tax cuts. Cuts to public services have negative social, health and economic effects that are becoming painfully obvious.
As research is continuing to show, a high level of income inequality leads to an unstable economy, diminishes the quality of life of citizens, contributes to a host of social problems, and affects democracy in general. This is without even getting into the ethical and moral questions that arise about the kind of society we want to live in.
NUPGE is therefore asking provincial governments to ensure that future budgets introduce measures that contribute to the reduction of income inequality. A so-called “fairness test” could be developed and applied by financial departments that would help prevent the most vulnerable citizens from being negatively affected as a result of any policies or plans.
Contrary to what some might assert, income inequality is not inevitable. It results from policy decisions that are made by governments over time. And it has to be undone the same way. Public policies need to be developed that reflect the kind of province(s) we want to build.
Strong economies are important, but our social systems need to be just and fair. A fairness test would be a significant step in that direction.
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