Inequality negatively impacts physical and mental health, education outcomes, trust and community life, homicide rates, children’s health and wellbeing, drug abuse, and more. As a result, more equal societies have far less health and social problems.

The 10 wealthiest families in BC have the same wealth as the bottom 1.32 million British Columbians combined, more than a quarter of the province’s population.

This isn’t just about market forces. Government policies keep incomes at the bottom low and give tax breaks to those at the top. Our welfare rates are completely inadequate at $760 a month for a single person. The minimum wage rate of $13.85 an hour will not put a worker above the poverty line in Vancouver and other large cities in B.C. But the view from the top is pretty rosy, when you combine all personal taxes (income, sales, property, and carbon taxes plus MSP premiums), the richest one percent—households with income over $403,000—pay a lower effective tax rate on average than the bottom 90 per cent.

Poverty is concentrated in specific populations, such as Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, refugees and temporary foreign workers (including farm workers and live-in caregivers), lone-mother households and single senior women, so the negative effects of inequality are more likely to be experienced by these groups.

Let’s get to the heart of the problem. Economic growth doesn’t make societies more equal; in fact, it may do the opposite. A poverty reduction strategy and a fair tax system would make our society more equal and our communities healthier, both physically and socially.