Within Canada and Quebec, maintaining global competiveness in a time of growing austerity, both in the public and private sector, and the bottoming out of neoliberal policies, has created a climate of insecurity. The continual scapegoating of migrant workers, immigrants, and those without status here in Canada hides the simple fact that neoliberalism can only exist on the backs of immigrant/migrant workers.
Yet at the same time the concentration of wealth in our society has become unprecedented. The 10 wealthiest people in Quebec have an equivalent wealth to the salaries of 1 million Quebecers working at minimum wage. Canada also has– quietly– one of the largest concentrations of billionaires on the planet, at 64. This level of wealth concentration– brought on by the neoliberalism of the last three decades– has led to unprecedented poverty. In Toronto in 2012, there were 1.12 million visits to food banks, the second highest level on recorded number. At least in Toronto, this is largely due to the fact that even having a 40-hour a week job at minimum wage is not an escape from poverty. According to a groundbreaking report based on Statistics Canada labour and income data, the number of working poor in Toronto “pouring coffee, cleaning toilets and otherwise toiling for low wages in office towers and factories is growing dramatically. Between 2000 and 2005, the area’s working poor grew by 42 per cent, to 113,000 people.”