MONTREAL -- Researchers at the Institut de recherche et d'informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) say Quebec is less poor compared to the rest of Canada, refuting claims by Premier François Legault.

In its latest study, IRIS points out the premier uses the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a unit of comparison, but this measurement, they say, does not reflect reality.

Simon Tremblay-Pepin, a researcher with IRIS, states that in 2017, the GDP per capita showed a 17.3 per cent difference between Quebec, at $50,430, and the rest of Canada, at $60,969.

However, he points out the Basket Index, which takes into account people's real incomes and regional differences in the cost of living, shows a difference of 6.7 per cent.

Tremblay-Pepin also observed a small income gap between the majority of the population in Quebec and the rest of Canada, noting that the largest income gaps were found in the richest 20 per cent.

He says that in Quebec in 2017, the province's richest had 8.7 times more resources than its poorest, while in Canada this proportion was 11.3 times.

The researcher criticized the premier for being more concerned with the deficit of the rich than with the inequalities affecting the province's poorest by using GDP as a comparative measure.

Tremblay-Pepin points out the only reason the gap is smaller than the rest of Canada is because of how Quebec distributes its wealth.

He writes that the growth in incomes in excess of basic needs alone between 2016 and 2017 would have made it possible to fully cover the Market Basket Measure (MBM) deficits for 2016 and 2017, while allowing the surplus to grow faster than inflation.

Tremblay-Pepin points out if governments really wanted to, wealth could be redistributed in a month and cheques handed out to everyone who needs them.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021.