Income Inequality in Canada is Real and it Bites

'Montana Max' from Tiny Toon Adventures

‘Montana Max’ from Tiny Toon Adventures

The other day, I learned that the average annual salary in Vancouver is approximately somewhere between $41,000 and $43,ooo. When I read this fact, I realized that I have earned less than this amount for the last five consecutive years. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living below this average for such a long time. I have a Masters degree in Education, 25 years of experience in games and entertainment technology, including stints working for several years in Japan and the United States. Like so many other Canadians, the great recession of 2008 ruined me financially. From 2008 to the summer of 2009, I applied for 225 jobs, was interviewed four times, and didn’t get a single offer of employment. I declared personal bankruptcy and spent the next three years barely making ends meet so I could meet the discharge requirements of the trustee.

As a result of this long financial hardship, I’m feeling very resentful towards the wealthier members of Canadian society. By wealthy, I mean those folks who are making six figure salaries and up. As I pointed out in my May 9th post, I was taught to work hard, be honest, and treat others fairly. I’ve done alot of dirty, unpleasant work in my life, but I always believed that one day I’d be able to carve out a good niche for myself here in my home province of BC. But it hasn’t happened for me – and it’s certainly not for a lack of trying very hard. So you can imagine how angry I get when I see what’s happening in Ottawa with the Senate, or the pay raises of provincial MLA’s and federal MP’s, or the extremely well-paid bureaucrats in crown corporations. It just doesn’t make sense to me why they deserve to receive so much money. Government officials claim it’s competitive, but they never openly present their evidence to the public. The compensation process isn’t transparent – and it should be.

Somebody please explain to me why the head of BC Ferries deserves a half million dollar annual salary, compared to the Prime Minister of Canada who earns 320,000?!

Let’s not forget the private sector, either. For all the talk about meritocracy, profit, and productivity, 25 years of working in software and technology has taught me that a few individuals do very well, while a great many others are used up and discarded when costs need to be reduced. I saw cronyism, nepotism, and sheer greed in some companies I worked for.  I still can’t believe how I was exploited (yes – exploited) by the Apple Store. In 3 1/2 years of working there, I sold $3.7 million of hardware, software, and value-added services, while making a wage of $16 an hour. That’s what they paid me. What did I get for being a top selling sales specialist? An e-mail saying ‘congratulations’, and a hamburger. No bonus, no profit sharing, nothing seriously meaningful. Meanwhile, the Apple executives cashed in their shares and made millions. I sold millions for them – and received nothing. I will never forget the day I sold $14,000 of product during a shift and ended up walking home in the evening because I didn’t have enough for bus fare.

Everything feels so bloody skewed and unequal these days. The irony for me is that I know people who make terribly good salaries, own really nice homes, take trips, and have plenty of cash tucked away. They can afford a nice life for themselves and their family. But it’s all out of my reach. Worse yet, for all the effort and work I’ve put in to build a life for myself here in BC, I feel like I’m going nowhere fast.

The Grumpy Ferret (Why do you deserve a bigger piece of the pie?)

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