The Christmas season has once again opened the hearts of many in the Lower Similkameen, as donations to local charity drives attest.
A fine example of the charitable scene this year is the Keremeos branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, who, answering the call, made several large donations to local charitable causes, including recent Cawston house fire victims, and to the Legion’s own charitable venture.
The members decided to fund their own Christmas hamper this year, and called upon Legion Chaplain Jason Wiebe to find a needy family.
As it turned out, generous Legionaires donated enough food for at least two hampers.
Finding another needy family shouldn’t be twice as difficult for Wiebbe. A study by Emmanuel Saez, a researcher in income inequity, shows that 95 per cent of all income gains between 2009 and 2012 went to the top one per cent of earners in the United States.
Canada’s story is more difficult to ascertain, as we have limited access to comprehensive and timely public data about the top one per cent. But the data we do have reveal similar trends to the U.S. In each phase of economic expansion since the 1980s, the top one per cent of Canadian tax-filers took a bigger share of income growth, and less of the hit in bad times.
Income inequality has become an inescapable political and economic issue, as much so in the Similkameen as the rest of Canada.
The bottom 50 per cent has seen a dwindling share of income growth over time, accounting for only three per cent of all income gains since 2009, after having lost much more during the recession.
The statistics apply as much – and possibly even more so – to the Similkameen as anywhere else in Canada. As incomes fall, more and more middle and lower class income earners are finding themselves at the mercy of charitable organizations for that little extra that makes the Christmas season so special.
It’s great to see Similkameen organizations like the Keremeos Legion respond with such humanity. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a much larger and more concentrated public response to resolve the underlying issues behind the statistics noted above.