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Middle-income Earners

Brian Lee Crowley and Sean Speer launch the first in a series of papers aimed at helping the newly-elected government achieve its ambitious agenda

MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley and newly-appointed Senior Fellow Sean Speer kicked off a series of commentary papers titled “From A Mandate For Change To A Plan To Govern”.

Ottawa – The new Liberal government has put the Canadian middle class at the centre of its agenda. This should be lauded. Canada is stronger when incomes are broadly growing. But how best can the federal government help middle-income earners?

MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley and newly-appointed Senior Fellow Sean Speer kicked off a series of commentary papers titled “From A Mandate For Change To A Plan To Govern”.

Publishing weekly from the Throne Speech to the first budget next spring, the series is designed to offer practical policy recommendations that help the newly-elected government follow through on its election promises.

In a column introducing the series, Crowley and Speer observe that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has drawn inspiration from Sir Wilfrid Laurier: “Mr. Trudeau wisely emulated Laurier’s positivity in the recent election campaign,” they write, but there are further lessons for the new government from Laurier, who famously proclaimed the 20th Century would be “filled by Canada”.

“This week’s Speech from the Throne will be the first chance for Canadians to see how the new government will translate its mandate for change into a plan to govern”, write Crowley and Speer. “Mr. Trudeau’s goal should be to prove Laurier’s prognostication accurate for the twenty-first century”.

In the first paper, Crowley and Speer lay out the scope of the issues facing middle-income Canadians and then offer policy ideas for how the government can best help them.

Among their recommendations:

1. Don’t rely too heavily on comparisons with the United States: The Canadian middle class is doing far better than its neighbours to the south. Policy options aimed at Canada’s middle class need to be tailored to our needs.

2. Acknowledge the progress that has already been made in social mobility: Canadians’ ability to increase their earnings over time – and not stay stuck in one income bracket – should not be discounted.

3. Bolster inclusive growth that includes all income brackets: Encouraging social mobility and opportunity should be the priority. Canada already has many programs in place aimed at redistributing income between high- and low-income earners.

With this in mind, Crowley and Speer say there are several ways to help the middle class that should accord with the government’s policies. These include: policies to make homeownership more affordable, bolstering policies that reward work and discourage dependence on the state, and embracing free trade both within Canada and internationally, including ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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