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Plight of the middle class - Federal Conservatives' internal report


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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canada-s-middle-class-mortgaging-its-future-with-debt-1.2548633

Canada's middle-class is mortgaging its future to stay afloat, making the Canadian dream "a myth more than a reality."

That's the blunt assessment of an internal Conservative government report, an unvarnished account of the plight of middle-income families that's in contrast to the rosier economic picture in this month's budget.

The document was prepared last October by experts in Employment and Social Development Canada, the department that runs the employment insurance fund and other income-support programs. The Canadian Press obtained the report under the Access to Information Act.

"The wages of middle income workers have stagnated," it says, referring to the period from 1993 to 2007. "Middle-income families are increasingly vulnerable to financial shocks."

"In Canada, political parties are making the middle class a central piece of their agendas," notes the presentation.The document, drawing on three years of "internal research," was prepared for the department's deputy minister, Ian Shugart, shortly before the resumption of Parliament last fall.

A department spokesman, Jordan Sinclair, said in an email that the research "was not linked to the parliamentary schedule or topics raised within the House of Commons."

The authors say middle-income families have seen their earnings rise by an average of only 1.7 per cent a year over the 15 years ending 2007.

"The market does not reward middle-income families so well," says the report. "As a result, they get an increasingly smaller share of the earning's pie" compared with higher-income families.

Sharp cut in EI benefits noted

Shugart was also told middle-class workers "get lesser government support for their work transitions," referring to a sharp fall-off in employment-insurance benefits compared with other economic groups.

The analysis stops short of the 2008 global recession, though other analysts have noted the economic crisis wiped out many well-paid manufacturing jobs in central Canada that have supported middle-class prosperity.

The report also refers to debt, saying "many in the middle spend more than they earn, mortgaging their future to sustain their current consumption."

"Over the medium term, middle-income Canadians are unlikely to move to higher income brackets, i.e., the 'Canadian dream' is a myth more than a reality."

Current Conservative messaging emphasizes a million new jobs created since the recession; Canada's relative economic stability compared with other industrialized countries; and various tax cuts provided to "average" families since 2006.

"Today, the Canadian economy is remarkably strong, setting the conditions for Canadians and their families to succeed and enjoy a high quality of life," he said. "Middle-income Canadians receive proportionately greater [tax] relief."Sinclair repeated those talking points when asked for comment on the report.

This month's budget acknowledged the need to create jobs and provide workplace training, but the budget documents never refer explicitly to the "middle class." The term "middle income" occurs just three times in the main budget, and once in a news release.

Since becoming Liberal leader in April last year, Justin Trudeau has frequently cited the plight of the middle class, a theme repeated at the party's weekend convention in Montreal.

Research from the Library of Parliament shows that since Jan. 1, 2013, Trudeau has used the phrase "middle class" 52 times in the House of Commons, compared with twice for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and nine times for NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. None of them used "middle income."

Toronto Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland commended the public servants who produced the report, saying that for the Liberals "it was like getting a good grade on your homework."

"This is a very strong, non-partisan, data-driven report, focused on Canada, which confirms our assertion, which is at the centre of our policy, that the middle class in Canada is being squeezed and that we have to do something about it," she said in an interview from Montreal. The public discourse has been lagging — we've been in denial."

Freeland, who won a November byelection and now is the party's trade critic, is author of the 2012 book Plutocrats, which argues that wealth distribution has favoured the ultra-rich and left everybody else behind.

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No surprise there. Nice to see the Conservatives are talking about it internally, but will they want to do anything about it?

Kind of an "oh crap we're so wrong about everything we've said...don't let this get out to the masses, quick waste another $140 million on action plan ads"
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Funny how being middle class excludes most people from ever being able to buy a house in Greater Vancouver.

Or even renting in the GVR let alone anywhere in the lower mainland closer to the city than Langley....The shocking thing is how little the middle and lower class earners' wages have increased since 93 in comparison to inflation and direct comparison to the highest earners.
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Or even renting in the GVR let alone anywhere in the lower mainland closer to the city than Langley....The shocking thing is how little the middle and lower class earners' wages have increased since 93 in comparison to inflation and direct comparison to the highest earners.

This sums it up.

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I make infinite times more now than I did in 1993.

It's a meaningless statement.

considering you were about 16 in 93 and I was 23 it's no wonder. I was starting my career making about $20k a year now I make 5 times that working my way up. I didn't get mad at the man blaming others for my lowly wage I worked hard and moved up. Today's generation wants everything for nothing.

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considering you were about 16 in 93 and I was 23 it's no wonder. I was starting my career making about $20k a year now I make 5 times that working my way up. I didn't get mad at the man blaming others for my lowly wage I worked hard and moved up. Today's generation wants everything for nothing.

Way to miss the point entirely.

The problem is that a 23 year old you today would be making comparatively less money today (when accounting for inflation) than you did in 93.

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considering you were about 16 in 93 and I was 23 it's no wonder. I was starting my career making about $20k a year now I make 5 times that working my way up. I didn't get mad at the man blaming others for my lowly wage I worked hard and moved up. Today's generation wants everything for nothing.

Which scientific social research or study did you cite to make this claim? Or is it a personal subjective and thus a meaningless opinion?

Considering there are around 35 million people in this country and you count as 1. Your own personal narrative, impressive as it may be, is also meaningless.

Allow me to refute using stats and objective facts: the education level attained by this general is higher than mine and yours (proving motivations and intention to work, and refuting your 'for nothing' claim), yet young adult unemployment and underemployment rates are at post war highs. Why? It comes down to the economy and lack of opportunities. Kids don't go to school if there is good paying work available.

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For a single person $30,000 to $$60,000k

For a family $50,000 to $80,000k

This report kinda shuts down quite literally everything the Cons have been saying for a few years now.

Really, I make more than that and I consider myself "Middle Class".

Edit: I guess I am wrong....I think the middle class should be expanded - for I have a high debt load (manageable, but high, and working at getting it smaller, step by step..).

http://www.moneysens...he-middle-class

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Way to miss the point entirely.

The problem is that a 23 year old you today would be making comparatively less money today (when accounting for inflation) than you did in 93.

This is what they always do. Look at me! Me! Me! Me! If 'me' can do it so should everyone else. Dismissing every other factor and all statistics.

I wonder who the "Me!" generation truly accurate describes.

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considering you were about 16 in 93 and I was 23 it's no wonder. I was starting my career making about $20k a year now I make 5 times that working my way up. I didn't get mad at the man blaming others for my lowly wage I worked hard and moved up. Today's generation wants everything for nothing.

I'll go to bat for this.

I was barely a teenager in 93. but I recall gas being under 50 cents a litre bread being 50 cents a loaf and chicken being under $10 a pack (fresh not frozen boxes) rent of a 3 bedroom home was $700 almost anywhere.

Now a days when you think of trying to be 20 years old and making it on $20k with the cost of everything I cringe. I agree with you about working up in the world but the same advantages we had when younger no longer exist. Companies would rather lay someone off as opposed to increase their wage to standard survivable rates.

it is troubling to say that unless you're incredibly lucky, incredibly well positioned or affiliated. Or start your own business. Living on $20k now ass opposed to 1993 is so much tougher than it should be.

Added in 1993, we didn't need or want new $50k vehicles. $17 trips to watch a movie and another $20 for popcorn and such. We didn't do the whole 5 times a year trips to mexico or Vegas. In the 90's people attempted to live within their means.

Now people are being almost forced to accept ever more debt with ever less safety via salary and appreciable debt servicing.

Living within ones means accounts for a lot, but also knowing that you'll have to work harder and harder just to sustain that quality of life is seriously sad.

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considering you were about 16 in 93 and I was 23 it's no wonder. I was starting my career making about $20k a year now I make 5 times that working my way up. I didn't get mad at the man blaming others for my lowly wage I worked hard and moved up. Today's generation wants everything for nothing.

The overwelming majority of workers both private and public work hard - have not seen their income grow 5 times over during that same period. In order to have your wages go up 500% in that time you either changed occuptions from unskilled to highly skilled, or moved up the management ladder or run your own businuess and have grown it that far.

No other job in BC has gone up 500% in wages on its own. Did you go from stock boy to CEO?

And your rightwing ideology is misguiding your comments. Many people - Soldiers - Police - Fire - Health Care - Factory workers - Forestry workers - etc etc who work dam hard - don't complain and still don't move up at the increadable rate of 500% you have. There are many people who are very highly skilled that in a social democratic society are not wealth generators per say but still deserved to be fairly compensated for making a carreer out of job that people like yourself don't wish to do.

I would suggest that its todays right wing that wants everyone else to give so that they can make the most possible - and not have to contribute to the country that gave them the oppurtunity to do so. I guarentee you that poor smuck tarring roofs - that soldier on patrol - that god aweful job cleaning porto johns - Single parents holding any type of job and running a home, and a whole bunch more all have workers that work as hard if not harder then you and I

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