StatsCan study doesn’t sway Trudeau from middle class worries

Trudeau countered study with a report saying the Canadian dream is ‘a myth’ for middle income earners

OTTAWA – Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is sticking with his assertion that the middle class is struggling with stagnant incomes and skyrocketing household debt, no matter what Statistics Canada says.

The agency released a study earlier this week that said families have become wealthier, with median net worth rising 44.5 per cent since 2005 and almost 80 per cent since 1999.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney said the study proves Trudeau is “making things up.” He credited the Harper government’s 162 tax cuts for the “very significant increase” in family net worth.

But Trudeau on Thursday cited another report — prepared last fall by experts in Kenney’s own department — which concluded that “the Canadian dream is a myth more than a reality” for middle income earners.

Trudeau has zeroed in on the plight of the middle class since taking the helm of his party last April. He has vowed that measures to improve the lot of middle-class Canadians will be the cornerstone of the eventual Liberal platform for next year’s election.

Asked Thursday how he reconciles his depiction of the middle class with the Statistics Canada study, Trudeau said he’s looking at data over the longer term, since 1981, and they show “very, very troubling trend lines.”

“The reality is that anyone who has spent any time actually talking to Canadians and listening to them knows that people are really, really worried,” he told a questioner following a breakfast speech hosted by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and Ottawa Business Journal.

“Canadians are worried that, you know what, for the first time, they’re not going to be offering to their kids greater opportunities than they had.”

Trudeau said Canada “must be a place where upward mobility and equality of opportunity is there for everyone” and added: “I do believe, unlike some others, that the federal government does have a leadership role to play in making that happen.”

During his speech, Trudeau didn’t mention the Statistics Canada study but he did reference the report prepared by officials in Kenney’s department and obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

That report said middle-income earners saw their wages stagnate and debts mount between 1993 and 2007 and concluded they’re unlikely to move into higher income brackets.

“It explicitly says that wages of middle income workers have stagnated and that middle-income families are increasingly vulnerable to financial shocks,” Trudeau said.

“And it says finally — something that the Conservative government has so far refused to acknowledge — for far too many, ‘the Canadian dream is a myth more than a reality’.”

Although Kenney has cited the statistics agency to assert that Trudeau’s analysis of middle-class financial woes is “wrong,” that study did not paint an entirely rosy picture.

While net worth has increased, largely due to the spike in housing prices, so too has household debt — by 41.6 per cent since 2005, the study found.

Moreover, the study showed that almost 90 per cent of the improvement in net worth was accumulated by the top 40 per cent of income earners. The bottom 60 per cent accounted for a mere 11.1 per cent of the pie.




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StatsCan study doesn’t sway Trudeau from middle class worries

  1. It sounds like we are setting up for a battle using individual’s favourite set of stats and interpretations.
    The internal report that described ‘middle class incomes stagnating’ referred to an average annual increase of 1.7%. Compounded this is an increase of just under 28%, which is pretty close to the 30% increase in median middle class incomes in the Stats Canada report. The two different reports do cover a slightly different time frame.

  2. Every bit of that increase in “net wealth” has been from increase in home values. Far from being a positive development, this is downright dangerous.

    • Yep, burst that bubble and Jason’d be singing a different song altogether.

    • I imagine that in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary a good chunk of the increase can be attributed to increased home values, but that seems unlikely to be the case in other parts of the country, no?

      • Have a look at Winnipeg, Saskatoon, or Ottawa. Winnipeg, of all places, has had insane housing price increases. Since 2000, they’ve outpaced the Lower Mainland on a percentage basis.
        Take a look at Terranet’s housing index for 11 Canadian cities, pretty much the only source for house prices that I trust. It’s been going up way fastar than inflation nearly everywhere, and this has been happening for more than a decade.

        • Take a look at Saskatoon, a market that used to be very affordable.

    • Better sell your house for 15% below market rate in that case, right?

  3. So what’s this now – the Harper government is keeping two sets of books on everything?

    I think Kenney has some ‘splainin’ to do..

  4. “While net worth has increased, largely due to the spike in housing
    prices, so too has household debt — by 41.6 per cent since 2005, the
    study found.
    Moreover, the study showed that almost 90 per cent of the improvement
    in net worth was accumulated by the top 40 per cent of income earners.
    The bottom 60 per cent accounted for a mere 11.1 per cent of the pie”

    Well thank goodness you finished on that note…pity Kenney didn’t bother to mention it. How on earth can you in good conscience cite only the bit of a Stats Can report you like? Looking at net worth without looking at what it took to get there is an exercise in futility. Still, i wish Trudeau would address the debt issue as much as he stresses the growth one. IMO growth alone wont be the answer. There is room for good old conservative values like living within your means…pity there aren’t any real conservatives in this govt.

    As for that earlier study…it’s remarkable how quickly Jason got them bussed over to SC and working on another one. Guess they didn’t send him a complete copy first…D’oh!

    • Trudeau’s the one advocating that the government take on more debt…. not the Conservatives.

      Households can go into more debt because their net worth is higher than it was before, this is not shocking. Someone worth $1,000,000 can borrow more money than someone worth $100,000. And the fact that Canadians are going into debt to invest is also a good thing, not a bad thing.

      • You’re always good for a laugh, Stupie! The Conservatives who took us from surpluses to year after year of piling on the debt are…against more debt.

        When did this happen?

      • Lets see how you spin that when interst rates return to historical norms or higher, and some of that net worth starts to become a liability rather than an asset.

  5. Any member of the middle class whose net worth has increased by 44% is remarkably fortunate. I can absolutely state that me net worth has not increased by anything like that in the past 9 years. Perhaps they refer to those Canadians living and working in the oil patch.

    • Or those who just happened to buy a house ten years ago, and resisted the urge of taking out a HELOC to spend their gains. Funny, we used to call that borrowing. Now we call it “tapping into home equity”. The euphemisms we use to make debt and credit more acceptable are brazenly facile when you think of it.

    • Perhaps they refer to those Canadians living and working in the oil patch

      Are you suggesting that people who work in the oil patch aren’t Canadians?

      I can absolutely state that me net worth has not increased by anything like that in the past 9 years

      What have you been doing with your money for the last 9 years? Investing in beer and popcorn?

      • A uniquely O’manish confection of both stupid assumption and personal charmlessness.

  6. They picked him over the astronaut!!!

    ROTFLMFAO!!!

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