Rename the Ministry of Middle Class Prosperity!

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Pontiac Perspective by Peter Gauthier


Pontiac Perspective by Peter Gauthier

Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet includes a Minister of Middle Class Prosperity (Mona Fortier), thereby recognizing the government must attend to issues affecting this group of citizens. There are some significant issues. The high cost and ensuing debt of post secondary education prohibits many younger workers from making major purchases that would mark the start of their careers. Exorbitant housing costs have made the dream of the middle class as homeowners more unattainable. New technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, threaten job security of even those with advanced educational degrees. Attempts to maintain middle-class status has meant carrying high debt loads. These and other relevant economic developments do certainly pose problems for the middle class.
There is, however, one element in this discussion that seems to be overlooked: the existence of a middle class implies the existence of a lower class and a higher class.  More specifically, if Canada’s middle class is experiencing significant economic problems, what is the situation for those below the middle class? By most acceptable definitions, 3.4 million Canadians live in poverty – that is, the lower class.
The economic problems related to poverty are well known and acknowledged by governments: poorer health and increased health costs, poorer education, higher unemployment rates, lower wages and higher crime rates. All these add extra expenses for governments, amounting to some $66 billion per year. These costs have the power to affect much of the cost of poverty. Would it not then seem that the most direct method for the federal government to help the middle class is to tackle the issue of poverty more strenuously and with more permanent results?
The federal government believes reducing income taxes on the middle class by $200 to $500 will somehow make a significant contribution to easing the problems they face. It’s certainly true that the middle class is also the largest economic and voting group. A small reduction in income tax payments may have some appeal, but it also shows the government isn’t considering the most significant factors facing the middle class.
A deeper issue of social justice is reflected by the government’s action. There’s a well established principle thata community (or nation) is judged on how it treats its most disadvantaged members. By its concentration on the middle class, the Trudeau government is indicating that the issues of the poor and un-privileged of our society (the lower class) do not deserve the attention the middle class
gets. The improvement of the challenges faced by the lower class is the most certain way of helping the middle class.
The Ministry of Middle Class Prosperity should be redirected to the Ministry for the Elimination of Poverty.