Income inequality and support for redistributive policies in Ontario: Who gets what, where, how, and who cares?

  • Tara Sutton University of Guelph


Income inequality has risen steadily in Canada over the last three decades, and particularly in Ontario, where it has grown at a faster rate. While the public response to this growth remains unclear, policy responses to address the issue have largely failed. To date, the literature remains divided as to the nature of the relationship between income inequality and support for redistributive policies such as welfare spending. This article argues, however, that where a relationship exists between income inequality and public support for welfare spending, it is a negative one. This negative relationship is in part due to perceptions of deservingness and factors explained by institutionalism. Even if support for governmental action to address income inequality is considerable both in Ontario and in the rest of Canada, support for governmental welfare spending is low. These findings point toward a public that is largely unresponsive to the problem of growing income inequality in Ontario. The results have implications for the development of policies to address inequality effectively, both in Ontario and in the rest of Canada.