BUSINESS
12/10/2019 11:38 EST | Updated 12/10/2019 11:40 EST

Canada's Racial Gap On Income, Wealth Isn't Getting Any Better: Study

Racialized people are more active in the workforce than other groups, but still earn less.

DMEPhotography via Getty Images

MONTREAL ― Despite the country becoming considerably more racially diverse over the past decade, Canada has made virtually no progress on racial equality in the workplace, a new study has found.

The study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) compared data from the 2006 and 2016 censuses to look at how close the country is getting to “racial equality of outcome” in the workforce. It found the racial gap in earnings hasn’t budged in that time.

The study found racialized women earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by white men, while racialized men earned 78 cents for every dollar earned by non-racialized people.

This is despite the fact that racialized people have a higher participation rate and employment rate ― a larger share of them than the overall population are active in the workforce.

Watch: Canada’s structural racism is no accident. Story continues below.

 

While it may be tempting to attribute this to immigration ― racialized immigrants are newer to Canada, and so less established ― the CCPA study found this explanation only goes so far. The children of racialized immigrants also experience a wage gap, though it’s narrower than for recent arrivals.

“These (wage) gaps continue into the second generation and beyond,” the report noted. “Second-generation racialized men earned 79 cents for every dollar that second-generation non-racialized men earned. Second-generation racialized women earned 96 cents for every dollar that second-generation non-racialized women earned.”

But the study also found large gaps between different racial groups. For instance, Black men make 66 per cent as much as non-racialized males, but Japanese men make 105 per cent of their white male counterparts’ salaries.

That phenomenon requires more study, but it’s likely that attitudes towards specific racial groups are impacting outcomes, said Grace-Edward Galabuzi, an associate professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University, and co-author of the study.

“Often the assumptions or stereotypes about groups are different,” he told HuffPost Canada. “Anti-black racism will affect people differently than prejudice against the East Indian population.”

Wealth disadvantage

The CCPA study looked at wealth inequality as well, but found Canadian data on this subject is lacking. Statistics Canada’s quarterly report on balance sheets doesn’t break down wealth by race.

However, the 2016 census broke down capital gains (the increase in the value of assets) by race, as well as investment income, and the data shows a clear gap.

About 12 per cent of Canada’s non-racialized population reported making capital gains, compared to 8.3 per cent for racialized Canadians. Investment income also shows a gap, with non-racialized Canadians reporting an average of $11,428 in investment income, compared to $7,774 for racialized Canadians.

Having less accumulated wealth means people have fewer options, the study explained. 

Wealth “gives people the freedom to make choices such as leaving a job or pursuing further education. It provides a source of income in times of need, such as illness or job loss. It makes borrowing money easier — and cheaper,” the CCPA report stated.

“It also leads to (a) foundation that is established for the next generation and the generation after that,” Galabuzi added.

He would like to see better racial data on wealth inequality from Statistics Canada, along the lines of the data available in the U.S. and elsewhere. He notes Ontario launched a three-year anti-racism strategy in 2017 that includes collecting better racial data on justice, education and child welfare.

And there is legislation that could help as well, Galabuzi argues. The federal Employment Equity Act applies only to the 12 per cent of the workforce who are in federally regulated industries. Provinces ― which have constitutional responsibility over labour issues ― should follow suit, Galabuzi says.

And he wants policymakers to act sooner rather than later.

“It’s likely that massive changes are going to occur over the next 10 or 15 years,” Galabuzi said in an interview, because he says automation is about to propel us into an era of uncertainty about jobs.

“If we don’t address these issues before we get into this period of vulnerability … there will be a compounding of the situation for disadvantaged groups.”