Behind the Numbers

Ontario Budget 2015 – throwing everything but infrastructure under the bus.

April 23rd, 2015 · · Ontario, public services

If you just read the words, and didn’t look at the numbers, Ontario’s 2015 budget is a magical integration of the government’s high-profile infrastructure and pension initiatives with the need to maintain the public services that Ontarians count on.

The budget devotes page after page to trumpeting the government’s commitments to elementary and secondary education, post-secondary education, child care, health and poverty reduction at the same time as it highlights investments in infrastructure and the continued development of the Ontario Registered Pension Plan (ORPP). The budget even mentions homelessness as an issue that concerns the government.

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Ontario Budget 2015: Kicks the can on fixing Ontario’s real problems

April 23rd, 2015 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario, public services

by Sheila Block and Kaylie Tiessen

Budget 2015 may be big on rhetoric, but it doesn’t deliver on the promises for strengthening public services that Premier Wynne was elected on.

It is, instead, a procrastination budget; one that skilfully avoids a conversation about Ontario’s chronic revenue problem and shifts the cost of underinvestment in public services on to private households.

The province trumpets that it will reduce the deficit to $8.5 billion this fiscal year to $4.8 billon next year and reach a zero deficit by 2017-18.

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Lost and found: What budget language says about government priorities

April 23rd, 2015 · · Federal Budget

searchlight_leftThere’s already a ton of good analysis around the 2015 Federal Budget. Critics’ consensus? This budget is short-sighted, misleading and full of vote-buying measures that do little do address Canada’s real challenges.

The policies and measures contained in the budget say a lot about the current government’s priorities—budgets always do. But the language they use, independent of the policies themselves, says just as much about what this government really values.

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We don’t need a surplus, we need jobs

April 21st, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Employment and Labour, Federal Budget

Call me naïve. Going into the 2015 budget lockup I figured the sale of Canada’s GM shares (that could have been used as leverage to keep GM jobs in Canada, but I digress) would go toward a new infrastructure plan for cities. The proportion of people working today is unchanged from the worst point during the recession and job quality indexes are at all time lows. Building things creates jobs and returns benefits to the economy. Obviously, or so I thought, infrastructure spending would make an important appearance in Joe Oliver’s first budget.

And I suppose it will… in 2019.

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Budget 2015: Here’s a cheque, now go create some jobs

April 21st, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Federal Budget, Gender Equality, Household Debt

Oil prices are down. Economic growth is down. Employment rates are stagnant. Household debt is climbing to record highs. Canadians could use a break. The 2015 federal budget has one for you.

But there’s a catch.

First you have to qualify: you need to be part of a couple; you need to have a child under 18; it would help if one of you in that couple made a whole lot more than the other cheque; it would help if your household income was more than $200,000 a year.

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Three Things You Need To Know, Going Into This Year’s Federal Budget

April 21st, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Federal Budget

1. Canada’s Response to the Recession Not Best In Show, Economically Speaking

We’ve heard a lot about how Canada fared better than other nations during the global economic crisis. That’s because our economy was firing on all cylinders going into recession in 2007, the year before the crisis hit.

In fact, we entered this recession from a stronger economic position than the beginning of any other major recession since World War II.

But after 5 years of recovery, we are in a weaker position than any of the past three major recessions (1981-82, 1990-91 and 2008-09).

Decline and Rise of Canada's Economy Through 3 Recessions

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The TFSA Shouldn’t Be Scrapped, It Should Be Fixed: Budget 2015

April 20th, 2015 · · Alternative Federal Budget, Federal Budget, Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Today The Globe and Mail Report on Business published 5 economists’ thoughts on what tomorrow’s federal budget could and should do.

I chose to focus on a measure that is virtually guaranteed to be in the budget, because the federal government has promised to do it since the last federal election in April 2011: double the annual contribution limits to the Tax Free Savings Account.

I thought it was bad policy in 2011. It’s even less of an excusable policy direction now. It doesn’t even do what the feds say it does.

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The Nova Scotia Legislature: Our House, Their Rules?

April 20th, 2015 · · Democracy

During the last provincial election campaign in September 2013, then Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil promised to make Nova Scotia “the most open and transparent province in Canada”. Are we any closer to this desired state a year and a half later? If anything, I would argue we have moved backwards, rather than forwards, towards that goal.

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Ontario Equal Pay Day: Best Place For Women?

April 19th, 2015 · · Gender Equality, Income Inequality, Ontario, Poverty and Income Inequality

By Mary Cornish

For the second year, the Ontario government officially recognizes Equal Pay Day – this year on April 20 – a day dedicated to shining a light on the persistent problem of pay inequities experienced by women in the province.

We normally look at the Ontario gender pay gap, but Statistics Canada has discontinued its annual Survey of Labour Income Data (SLID) and the new replacement means we can’t compare to previous years.

What to do?

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Doubling contribution limit to Tax-Free Savings Accounts exposes true intent of a bad policy

April 16th, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Federal Budget, Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Last week, federal finance minister Joe Oliver re-affirmed that his government seeks to double the annual contribution limit to Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), from $5,500 to $11,000.

This is a terrible idea.

When the TFSA was first introduced, the claim at the time was that the policy was intended to support modest income people wanting to save for retirement, but for whom the RRSP may not make good economic sense. There was some merit to this argument, although boosting the CPP and Old Age Security (OAS) would have been a far preferable solution.

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