This is the middle third of a brief overview of the Parkland Institute report on the decline of equality in Alberta that will focus on the specific contributing factors mentioned but not enumerated in part one.  Starting with:

“a | The Tax Cut Agenda: The flat tax was a transfer of wealth to high-income Albertans. Middle-income Albertans actually pay more tax than in most other provinces, while the top income bracket pays by far the lowest taxes in the nation. Alberta also has the lowest corporate taxes in the nation and collects by far the lowest taxes in the nation, $10.7 billion less than BC, the next lowest province in 2008.”

Ah, Alberta where we penalize the middle class for daring to be successful.   The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well as long as you’ve already ‘made it’.

“b | Stalled Social Spending: Alberta spends less on average than many other provinces on a per capita basis. As a percentage of GDP, total spending of combined provincial and municipal governments in Alberta fell from a high of 21 per cent in 1991-1993 to only 13.4 per cent in 2007. For comparison, the OECD average was 21 per cent, while at the top end Sweden and France spend 29 per cent.”

We bleat and moan about our healthcare spending and then never think to look at the precursors to ill health,  that is the social conditions we face and the supports in place to ensure healthy living for everyone in Alberta.  As the statistics show, we spend less on the front-end social supports and then wonder why the back end is costing us so much.

“c | Labour markets: Jobs have become increasingly contingent – temporary, part-time and self-employed – while average wages have barely been keeping pace with inflation. A study of inequality trends in OECD countries found that the most important factor in equality was trade union membership. On this front, Alberta compares poorly with the lowest rate of unionization in Canada.”

Of course Alberta has the lowest rate of unionization, we need our workers free of the protections unions offer so they can be more easily exploited.

“d | Offloading of community services: In downsizing government many services were offloaded to the voluntary or community sector which has been shifted to a ‘contract culture,’ with insecure funding and low wages and benefits.”

Ah, the hallowed “Charities will pick up the slack” balderdash makes its appearance.  Private charities are not comparable to public institutions when it comes to taking care of the disadvantaged.  The private charities meme exists more to assuage the guilt of the wealthy of society rather than making a meaningful effort at tackling the conditions that presuppose the necessity of a private charity in the first place.

It is not all doom and gloom, we as Albertans can push to make Alberta better for everyone and here is how. How we can fix Alberta will be tomorrows post. :)