About 4.6 million people were considered low income in 2012, based on a new Canadian Income Survey from Statistics Canada. The share was barely changed in 2013, when nearly five million Canadians were living in low income. According to StatsCan, families are considered low income if they are spending 20% more of their income on necessities like food, shelter and clothing.
Canadian taxpayers spend $24 billion a year on social assistance programs that help low-income families to survive the financial hardship. The welfare assistance program is to alleviate extreme poverty by providing monthly income to families unable to put food on the table. The affordable housing programs are designed to provide a roof over their head. The dental and drug plans intend to help improve their personal wellbeing. The college tuition grant aims to level the playing fields for students struggling in poverty.
But a family’s income level and wealth are not directly linked. In fact, the value of assets after deducting debts says a lot about the family’s financial status. It doesn’t just grant security, but also paves a path for education, health and wellbeing.
Influenced by an overspending culture, many Canadians are poor in assets, despite earning a comfortable income. Overall, almost half of Canadians don’t have the means to cover basic costs for three months if they lose their jobs, according to 2015 stats. But in a sharp contrast to the income rich and asset poor Canadian demographic, there is a recent influx of new rich people from China where income and assets play an entirely reversing role in their family finance. For many of them, their taxable income falls to the bottom while their asset level is through the roof.
以温哥华的房主为例。 加拿大统计局的数据和媒体报道显示出令人不安的趋势，即在该地区越来越多的低收入人群当中，有许多声称为低收入的人士事实上是高端物业和奢侈豪宅的业主。他们在税表中逃避海外收入并申报贫困 - 有些人甚至领取福利支票，接受免费牙医保健和消费税退税。
Take homeowners in Vancouver as an example. StatsCan data and media reports reveal a disturbing trend that there is a growing number of low-income earners in the region, with many being de facto owners of high end properties and luxury mansions. They did not report their global income and alleged poverty in their tax return – with some even receiving welfare checks, free dental work and GST refunds from the government.
Some homeowners in tony parts of the west side of Vancouver and Richmond were claiming to have income as low as people struggling in Vancouver’s chronically impoverished Downtown Eastside. According to StatsCan, over 30 percent of residents in Metro’s upscale, tree-lined neighbourhood, where properties were selling in the $2 million to $6 million range were reporting low-income. A University of Calgary study has found that about 25,000 households in the city of Vancouver declares less income than they spend on housing costs.
A significant portion of these low-income claimants were Chinese investors who came to Canada through the business investor program. They were wealthy enough to put down $800,000 investment funds required by the program. According to StatsCan, many residents in several of StatsCan “low income” neighbourhoods have a Chinese nationality, which made up 50 per cent of the population in the Shaughnessy-Arbutus Ridge and 70 per cent in south of Oakridge shopping center. They parked their money in Vancouver real estate but went back to work in China to earn a global income.
While the non-disclosure of assets by Chinese investors can be traced to their cultural trait of keeping personal assets private, many were taking the loopholes in the government regulations and acting outside of the law by not reporting the overseas earnings, according to tax lawyers.
It’s a shame that those wealthy Chinese investors avoid their fair share of payment for the public services. They compete with Canada’ homeless and marginalized people for the limited financial resources contributed by the responsible and hardworking Canadian taxpayers.
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