Union members campaign to address income inequality

'Fair is fair' is the slogan for a grassroots campaign that passed through Cranbrook on Tuesday

  • Sep. 12, 2014 3:00 p.m.
Sharon Bard

Sharon Bard

Fair is fair.

That’s the slogan for a grassroots campaign that passed through Cranbrook on Tuesday featuring representatives from the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU).

Featuring a bright green passenger bus dubbed the ‘Fairness Express’, the campaign is hoping to start a conversation about the growing income inequality in B.C. and Canada, according to Sussanne Skidmore, an executive vice president with the BCGEU.

“The brunt of taxation falls on the middle class and working-class people and the income-gap is growing between the rich and the poor,” said Skidmore. “One of the problems in the province and the country is that public services are funded through taxation and because our tax base is shrinking, our public services are going without and they’re struggling.

“…People who are working and paying taxes, they’re seeing that there is a different way to do things, a different way to be taxed and we should be taxed fairly in this country. Everyone should be paying their fair share, and that’s one of the messages.”

While taxation policy can often be a murky subject, the goal is to start a conversation at the grassroots level to raise awareness and propose solutions for income inequality.

“We’re just asking people to hear what we have to say and pass it on,” added Skidmore. “Pass it on to a friend, their neighbours, their family and get people to think about how we can do things differently, how we can do them better.”

But the conversation just isn’t limited to taxation and the shrinking public sector services, according to Janice Morrison, representing Health Sciences Association of British Columbia.

“We’re also out here to talk about good quality jobs and an industrial strategy. I can remember a time when there were a lot more high-paying jobs in Cranbrook because there was mills operating, there was good private sector jobs as well,” she said.

“…We’re not just out here representing our memberships, but in terms of having this discussion. British Columbia, we keep being told all the time, is a wealthy province. We need to be raising the minimum wage.

“There’s a number of things we need to do. We need to ensure there are good jobs that that people aren’t having to move to Alberta or move to other jurisdictions.”

The bus has been touring through B.C. for the last month, and fellow campaigns are under way across Canada.