Rethink Nova Scotia social policies to reduce rising income inequality: study

A report released Wednesday says a growing gap between the rich and poor is harming Nova Scotians’ well-being, and it’s time for the Liberal government to recognize the issue in its policy-making.

The study cites Statistics Canada figures indicating that between 1998 and 2018, the share of the province’s total income going to the top 10 per cent of society has grown.

It says in those two decades the share of the province’s richest citizens grew from 23.3 per cent to just over 26 per cent.

The study, titled “Creating the Future We All Deserve,” was prepared for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers.

Lead author Tammy Findlay, chair of political studies at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, says in the study that governments need to begin assessing policies more rigorously to ensure they reduce poverty.

Findlay says policies should be run through a set of principles, which she refers to as a “social policy framework,” that include looking at the long-term impacts on poorer citizens.

“For too long, Nova Scotians have been told that real solutions to poverty and inequality are unaffordable and impractical. But we don’t have to accept that,” Findlay said.

The report gives the example of child care, noting how improved investments improve the health of parents, catches illnesses of children before they enter school and eventually leads to “healthier, better educated and more prosperous adults.”

It also advocated for more universal programs, including in child care, which bring children from diverse backgrounds into contact with one another and provide “equal opportunities for all children to thrive.”

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