Looking Forward

GLOBAL INEQUALITY

According to Oxfam International, the eight richest people in the world had as much wealth at the start of 2017 as the poorest half of the world’s population— that’s 3.6 billion people. Inequality within and among nations is not just about economic inequality. It leads to immense political and social inequalities. Elites secure political power and lobby for tax policies, social and environmental regulations, and concessions and subsidies that benefit their businesses. This leads to fewer resources for education, health care, and social programs. Extreme economic inequality limits the poverty-fighting potential of economic growth, threatens long-term growth, intensifies inequalities between women and men, leads to inequalities in health and life chances, and contributes to political instability, violence, and a range of social problems.

There is an alternative to growing inequality. Oxfam estimates that a 1.5 percent tax on the wealth of today’s billionaires could raise $74 billion, enough to put every child in school and provide health services in the world’s poorest 49 countries. Reducing inequality is an objective of the SDGs (Goal 10) and is central to other SDGs, including Good Health and Well-Being (Goal 3), Quality Education (Goal 4), and Gender Equality (Goal 5). Canada needs to be a champion for proven policies that clearly strive toward these goals.

At the CFTN, we recognize that trade inequality is one aspect of global inequality. As we grow and evolve, we want to support Canadians and the federal government, and work together, both internationally and within Canada, to do the following:

  • Uphold good governance and representation, and include everyone in the political process; people need to be a part of the process, and believe in it, if it is going to work
  • Promote women’s economic equality and fight gender discrimination
  • Align with Goal 10 of the SDGs and take action to reduce inequalities of race, age, sex, disability, ethnicity, origin, religion, or any other status
  • Advance universal public health coverage and access to quality education for all
  • Adopt progressive taxation; without a tax base, a government won’t be able to meet the needs of its people
  • Promote early childhood development and nutrition 

We want to see the federal government take the following actions:

  • Increase the minimum wage with the goal of ensuring living wages at home and promoting living wages abroad
  • Take immediate steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous communities in Canada, including improving the lives of Indigenous families, honouring Indigenous sovereignty, and implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 final recommendations and the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Meet Canada’s long-standing pledge to commit 0.7 percent of its gross national income to ODA
  • Pass legislation to end the gender pay gap in Canada, while providing new sources of funding to combat gender inequality and violence against women at home and internationally
  • Establish rules to govern how Canadian companies operate abroad

TAX AVOIDANCE AND EVASION

Africa loses approximately US$50 billion annually through illicit financial flows (IFFs), funds that are either lost or unpaid through tax evasion, fraud, and other illegal and criminal activities. The UN estimates that Africa lost over US$1 trillion through IFFs in the last 50 years—an amount similar to ODA spending over the same period. The major perpetrators are multinational companies extracting Africa’s natural resources—oil, gas, and minerals. 

Tax avoidance and evasion are also major problems in wealthier economies, resulting in fewer funds for things like health care and foreign aid. Canadians for Tax Fairness estimate that Canadian corporations kept over $199 billion in tax havens in 2014. Over time this adds up to trillions of dollars of lost government revenue.

We want to see the federal government take the following actions:

  • Support progressive taxation policies at home and internationally
  • Close the tax loophole on stock option income, of which the first 50 percent is not currently taxed in Canada
  • Improve auditing, compliance, and enforcement mechanisms to reduce evasion and avoidance and the use of tax havens
  • Support global efforts, including those of the G8, the G20, EU governments, the IMF, and the OECD, to carry out global tax reform, clamp down on IFFs, and increase the tax base in developing countries