Fewer in 'middle class'

Computer programmer David Galvin should be the quintessential beneficiary of next week’s federal budget, which is expected to continue the Liberals' persistent rhetoric and focus on bolstering the middle class.

He is educated, has had a career in advanced technology and lives in the economic heartland of southern Ontario. But Galvin no longer includes himself in the middle class.

Like a growing number of Canadians, the 65-year-old from Hamilton says he has fallen behind — and that’s a challenge, experts say, to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's approach to fiscal policy.

A recent poll conducted by Ekos Research for The Canadian Press suggests fewer than half of all Canadians now identify as members of the middle class — a steep drop from nearly 70 per cent in 2002.

In Galvin's hometown of Hamilton, 22 per cent said they've fallen behind in their social class in the last five years. That was the highest concentration in the country, tied with Halifax and Kitchener.

Another 55 per cent of Hamilton respondents said their situations haven't improved over the last five years.

Ekos president Frank Graves said the numbers point to a large shift in what it means to be a member of the middle class in Canada.

"The whole notion of a middle-class dream — 'I work hard, build a better mousetrap, do better than my parents, my kids do better than me, I get a house, a car, retire in comfort' — that has all been shattered," said Graves.

Graves pointed to higher income inequality and slower economic growth as reasons for the shrinking middle class.

"A lot of people are stagnating or falling behind and they're not happy," he said.

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