Survival of the Richest

Canada's super rich saw their wealth explode in the last few years

A new report reveals that rich Canadians — billionaires, to be exact — have seen their wealth grow by a staggering 51% since the pandemic began.

Oxfam Canada released its report titled “Survival of the Richest” on Sunday. It focuses on how the super-rich continue to get richer, and what steps should be considered to fight wealth inequality.

Since the pandemic hit, the top 1 per cent have made almost twice as much money as the bottom 99 per cent of the world’s population.

Oxfam Canada stresses the need for a wealth tax, citing that the richest 1 per cent “grabbed nearly two-thirds of all new wealth created since 2020, worth US$42 trillion.”

Most ordinary working Canadians with families are currently struggling with their finances, with many having to pick between paying bills and putting food on the table. This year, Canadians can expect to spend an extra $1,065 on their grocery bills.

Food inflation and the general cost of living are hitting new peaks. Mortgage and rent, too, are becoming unaffordable. Canadians are increasingly becoming aware of and fed up with corporate greed.

In a time like this, rich Canadians like billionaire Loblaw President Galen Weston Jr. are being called out for taking advantage of people during this difficult time.

“Just two years in, this decade is shaping up to be the best yet for billionaires,” said Lauren Ravon, executive director of Oxfam Canada, noting that taxing the super-rich and big corporations is the door out of today’s overlapping crises.

“It’s time we demolish the convenient myth that tax cuts for the richest result in their wealth somehow ‘trickling down’ to everyone else. Forty years of tax cuts for the super-rich have shown that a rising tide doesn’t lift all ships — just the super yachts.”

Oxfam notes that since 2020, US$26 trillion (63%) of all new wealth was captured by the richest 1%, while US$16 trillion (37%) went to the rest of the world put together.

The average billionaire gained about US$1.7 million for every US$1 of new global wealth earned by a person in the bottom 90%.

Billionaires have increased their wealth by US$2.7 billion a day. The Oxfam report shows that 95 food and energy corporations “more than doubled their profits” just last year, raking in $305 billion in profits, and paying out 84% of it to their rich shareholders.

“Taxing the super-rich is the missing ingredient for reducing inequality and strengthening our democracy,” Ravon further said. An analysis by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and the Patriotic Millionaires proposes that an annual wealth tax of up to 5% on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could lift two billion people out of poverty.

It could also “fully fund the shortfalls on existing humanitarian appeals, deliver a decade-long plan to end hunger, support poorer countries being ravaged by climate impacts, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower-middle-income countries.”

That's why Oxfam is calling on governments to:

  • Introduce one-off solidarity wealth taxes and windfall taxes to end crisis profiteering.
  • Permanently increase taxes on the richest 1%, for example to at least 60% of their income from labour and capital, with higher rates for multi-millionaires and billionaires. Governments must especially raise taxes on capital gains, which are subject to lower tax rates than other forms of income.
  • Tax the wealth of the richest 1% at rates high enough to significantly reduce the numbers and wealth of the richest people, and redistribute these resources. This includes implementing inheritance, property and land taxes, as well as net wealth taxes.

Read the full report here.

Lead photo by

David Thomson

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