By Greg Price
The Fairness Express pulled into Taber on Cornfest Thursday to help kick off Cornfest festivities with raised awareness of the disturbing trend of a disappearing middle class, and the lack of fairness in the tax system with corporations hiding billions of dollars in tax shelters.
Members of Health Sciences Association of Alberta are traveling the province between Aug. 19 and Sept. 9, visiting events and locations to help begin conversations about fairness in a fun, non-confrontational manner.
“We certainly think the gap has grown between the ultra rich and the rest of us. It’s getting bigger and bigger with the middle class disappearing,” said Trudy Thomson, one of three vice presidents of the Health Sciences Association. “It’s getting to the point that we have to work harder and longer for the same or less money. Yes, we are educating our children, but there are no quality jobs for them so what happens? Are they going to have the same quality of life we have or our parents had?”
The Fairness Express Tour has been going across Canada since last fall in the four Maritime provinces and picked up again in the spring when it made its way to Ontario and Manitoba. Two buses are on the road right now in Alberta and British Columbia and will end up in Saskatchewan around Thanksgiving.
“We have about seven core volunteers on the bus and when we pull into a place people can come in and join and help us,” said Thomson. “People can ask us questions and tell us their stories and tell us what they feel about some of the things going on with income inequality and taxes and public services.”
Cornfest Thursday’s Fairness Express in Taber featured free treats like cotton candy, popcorn, suckers, T-shirts, kids games and information packages. An interesting booklet the organization has is entitled ‘The Jackass Factor: 100 Things Not to Do If You Hate Taxes.’ For those who want to pay little or no tax, it tells of activities you should not be doing including not relying on the fire department or police department, not sending kids to public schools, not visiting the hospital, not applying for a student loan or marriage licence, and not have buildings be built to a certain code. Things we have in our society we may take for granted that come from a fair tax system according to the organization.
“We think people can start asking some of those tough questions and talking about it. Tell two friends and they can tell two friends and so on,” said Thomson. “Have a million conversations where it can make a difference with how you view things.
And on the road to fairness on the Fairness Express volunteers have been hearing about plenty of discord among Canadians where paycheques have remained flatlined for numerous years while expenses keep going up.
“The statistics have been showing that hasn’t really been much growth in the last 30 years than there has been before then. Since about the early 19803, there hasn’t been the level of growth than there was before that,” said Thomson. “People are saying ‘how do I get ahead? ‘How do I get a house?’ How do I make sure my kids get a better life than I did or as good of a life?’ ‘What happens with my aging parents who can’t find a bed in a long-term care facility?’ You can have a good pension and still be poor in retirement.”
For more information about the tour and the organization, log onto http://www.fairnessexpress.ca.