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Op/Ed: BC’s top 10 billionaires and the rest of us

The combined net worth of BC’s 10 wealthiest families is $25 billion — the same amount as the bottom 1.32 million British Columbians combined.

At the time of year when the focus is on giving, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives researchers have found that BC’s 10 wealthiest billionaires can afford to give thousands of times more than the rest of us.

The combined net worth of BC’s 10 wealthiest families is $25 billion — the same amount as the bottom 1.32 million British Columbians combined. The typical top-10 BC billionaire is 5,845 times richer than the typical middle-income BC household, economists Alex Hemingway and David Macdonald write in their just-released analysis Whose wealth is it anyway? BC’s top 10 billionaires and the rest of us.

“When it comes to inequality, much of our focus has been on income. But we should be equally concerned about those who make money not from their labour, but from their existing wealth,” says Hemingway. “This is neither socially nor economically justifiable.”

“BC is facing urgent problems like the climate crisis, housing unaffordability, poverty and homelessness and we’re often told the Province lacks the resources to address them. But the reality is that BC is enormously wealthy—we’ve simply allowed this wealth to be amassed by the richest few. There is nothing inevitable about this and we can create public policy to benefit the majority,” he explains.

Making our tax system fairer (so that capital gains are not taxed at half the rate of labour income), implementing an inheritance tax (Canada is the only G7 country without one) and closing tax loopholes that benefit the richest 10 per cent of Canadians are places to start say Hemingway and Macdonald.

Not just at this time of year, but year-round in an increasingly divided world, these much-needed policy reforms would be a gift that keeps on giving.