What is austerity?

We are told that we live in the “Age of Austerity”, and that we must tighten our belts.

That there's not enough money, and we have to spend less.

But austerity isn't just cuts to health care, education or the public sector.

Austerity is sacrificing the common good for corporate profits.

It affects everyone.

Austerity keeps migrant workers from exercising their rights, rolls back environmental regulations, muzzles scientists, undermines unions, keeps women earning less than men, and prevents Indigenous people from taking care of their lands, all while spending billions on war.


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We are told there is no money, yet the economy is producing gigantic corporate profits and personal fortunes.

By most measures, there is more wealth.

So why is this the “Age of Austerity”?

Corporations are paying less and individuals are paying more1...

...while inequality continues to increase.

In 2012, the 86 richest Canadians possessed the same amount of wealth as the 11.4 million poorest Canadians.

86 people own as much as a third of all Canadians do.2

The ill effects of austerity hit marginalized and poor people the hardest.

Meanwhile, the super-rich aren't tightening any belts.

The average salary of a top 100 CEO is 194 times that of the average Canadian3...

...but a top 100 CEO pays the same federal tax rate as a doctor who makes $140,000.4

Cuts are not necessary, but redistribution is.

There is money to improve public services and fund the transition to a more equal and ecologically sustainable economy.

We just have to be willing to go get it.

Austerity is not a lack of money, it’s a lack of democracy.

Here are a few ways to raise money:5

What could we do with $31 billion?

A national child care program. A green energy fund. Community clinics and no wait times. Free postsecondary education. New affordable housing. Clean water and livable housing in Indigenous communities. A solar cooperative in every neighbourhood...

Many things are possible if we unite against austerity.

Are you ready?

(And watch the video)


References: +
  1. Source: Public Accounts Canada (1950 and 2014. If corporations paid the same income tax rate as individuals, it would generate an additional $94 billion annually. Note: this only refers to federal taxes; each province has its own tax regimen.
  2. Source: Outrageous Fortune: Documenting Canada's Wealth Gap (CCPA 2014). "Over a 13-year period, there has seen a pronounced increase in wealth in Canada, but that wealth has flowed into the hands of a concentrated few. The vast majority of the increase (66%) in wealth has gone to the wealthiest 20%."
  3. Source: Canada’s Top 100 highest-paid CEOs (Canadian Business 2015). "And with Onex CEO Gerry Schwartz taking the number-one spot on the list this year with a total pay package of $87.9 million, many of our CEOs are paid many times more than that."
  4. Source: Canadian income tax rates for Individuals (Canada Revenue Agency 2015) NB: Provincial tax rates vary; these numbers refer only to federal tax rates.
  5. Further reading: TackleTaxHavens.ca; Fair and Progressive Taxation (CCPA 2013); Canadians for Tax Fairness Factsheet; Broadbent Institute Equality Project; Robin Hood Tax (Reuters, 2010)