The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) in a new report says that Canada’s top 20 richest billionaires have increased their collective wealth by $37 billion since March, when COVID-related lockdowns and closures began across the country.
The CCPA reports: “Some did better than others, with the biggest gains going to the Thomson family fortune (an estimated $8.8 billion increase in wealth), followed closely by Shopify’s Tobi Lutke ($6.6 billion increase) – mirroring some of the huge gains among big tech firms like Amazon and Apple south of the border. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson has also done exceptionally well, with a nearly $3 billion gain.
“At the same time as billionaires like Loblaws owner Galen Weston have seen their wealth balloon, front-line workers stocking shelves and scanning groceries at his stores have continued to risk their health and that of their loved ones by coming into work.”
“Fundamentally this is about the power of a wealthy few, such as Galen Weston’s Loblaws, to claw back the pandemic pay of frontline workers to increase their profits,” CCPA researcher and report co-author Alex Hemingway told Ricochet. “And their power, under current policies, to amass huge portions of wealth that is actually created by all of us.”
“But if people get organized and exert pressure from below, it is possible to change those policies and shift that balance of power,” he said.
Ricochet informs that the list “leaves out perhaps the world’s richest person who holds Canadian citizenship: Elon Musk. The Tesla founder’s personal fortune has more than tripled during the pandemic and is estimated at more than $120 billion.”
The CCPA report notes, “Data from Forbes’ annual billionaires list and their ‘real-time billionaires’ listing shows that Canada’s top 20 billionaires have amassed an average of just under $2 billion in wealth gains during some of the most economically catastrophic six months in Canadian history. This reflects the increasingly clear decoupling of the stock market from the real economy.”
BC billionaire Jim Pattison has also seen a big jump in his fortune, up $1.7 billion since March. The chain of grocery stores he owns rescinded hazard pay for workers in May, barely more than two months into the public health emergency. The CCPA report says that when the cut took place he told reporters he was “not involved” in the decision but that “We own and finance the company.”
In addition to advocating for a wealth tax, the CCPA report calls for corporate tax reform and a crackdown on tax havens.
Ricochet writes: “For the billionaires whose ballooning fortunes are documented in the CCPA report, a few percentage points makes a big difference. With a wealth tax of 1 per cent on wealth over $20 million, the Thomsons would pay just over $500 million. With an increase to two per cent starting at $50 million, they’d owe over a billion dollars in wealth taxes, which would still represent a mere fraction of the $8.8 billion they’ve amassed during the pandemic and leave them with a personal fortune of just under $50 billion.”
For the full report click here.
(ricochet.media, September 17, 2020.)