Behind the Numbers

Small business tax cuts in Canada: been there, done that

January 29th, 2015 · · Canada, Small business, Taxes and Tax Cuts

In the prelude to the 2015 federal election, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is talking job creation in Southwestern Ontario.

He’s promising more small business tax cuts and credits as his entry point. It’s the political norm these days to promote low business taxes, but the reality is small business tax cuts are already old hat. Here’s why:

About a year ago, Canada’s Department of Finance released a report outlining the changes in effective tax rates for small businesses, or Canadian controlled private corporations (CCPCs) as they are called in tax language, between 2000 and 2011.

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Municipal headache

January 29th, 2015 · · Cities, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Municipal taxes. Their mere mention is enough to cause headaches for some. Throughout the year, we nearly forget that we help finance our own town or city. Then the tax bill pops up in our mailbox, and we open it with trembling hands, wondering about the magnitude of this year’s hike. This letter can put an end to many households’ home-owning project, mainly elderly and young families. Wages rarely follow the staggering rise in the price of real estate.

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The downside of Canada’s love affair with small business

January 28th, 2015 · · Canada, Income Inequality, NDP, Small business, Taxes and Tax Cuts

It is not difficult to understand the motivation behind the federal NDP’s decision to make a tax cut for small business a centerpiece of its pre-election policy roll out.red

As touted by what must be the most consistently effective political lobbying force in Canadian history, small business is perceived to be an important engine of economic growth and job creation.

And while supporting small business doesn’t have the easily identifiable upside that goes with investing in large-scale projects of multinational corporations that have big job numbers attached to them, it has the virtue of avoiding the red-faced problem when those big jobs go south.

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What if First Nations (and their poverty) were counted?

January 26th, 2015 · · Aboriginal Issues, Employment and Labour

Kudos to the Globe and Mail for their front page story on Jan 23rd highlighting the fact that the official unemployment rate does not count First Nations reserves. You heard that right: First Nations reserves, some of the poorest places in the country, are not included in the official unemployment rate.

As unbelievable as that sounds, the reality is even worse. Reserves are regularly excluded from all of our regularly updated measures of poverty, wage growth, average incomes etc. The exception to this rule is during a Census, i.e. every four years (and as a result of legislation making the long form Census voluntary, concerns have been raised about the future reliability of these data). Otherwise, reserves—some of the poorest places in Canada–are statistic-free zones: out of sight…out of mind.

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The Bank of Canada’s latest move is less surprising than you think

January 22nd, 2015 · · Bank of Canada, Economy & Economic Indicators, Federal Government, National

Canada’s financial industry and its associated analysts reacted with shock and dismay to the Bank of Canada’s announcement this week that it was lowering its trend-signalling interest rate from 1.0%, where it had been pegged since 2010, to 0.75%.

While they might have valid business reasons for their response – after all, virtually all of them had been advising their clients, employers, and shareholders that rates were likely to go up, not down, in the next few months, they shouldn’t have been surprised.

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Who gets paid more?

January 20th, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Employment and Labour, Gender Equality, Income Inequality, Poverty and Income Inequality, public services

The Fraser Institute is really concerned that public sector employees might be making more than private sector employees. What is notable about the recent Fraser Institute report on public and private sector wages in British Columbia is that it does not seem particularly concerned with the reasons why there are variations in public and private sector compensation. The stated concern of the report is that public sector wages, benefits and job security should be more closely tied to private sector wages, benefits and job security.

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Toronto, you’re richer than you think

January 20th, 2015 · · Ontario, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Toronto’s budget season has begun in earnest, and it’s yielding a mix of the predictable “we can’t afford things” debate, along with some refreshing surprises.

Refreshing: Mayor John Tory is clearly signalling a desire to break from the recent past with the 2015 budget. His announcement on improvements to the TTC and his focus on the value of service improvements at his budget press conference this morning are a welcome breath of fresh air.

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The case against a revenue-neutral carbon tax

January 16th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Environment, Taxes and Tax Cuts

I’m a fan of carbon taxes, but increasingly I see the term “revenue-neutral” attached to it. Where I live, in BC, we have perhaps the most prominent example of a revenue-neutral carbon tax, and carbon tax advocates have come to promoting the BC model to other jurisdictions, such as Ontario, who are contemplating their own carbon tax. This includes the new EcoFiscal Commission, which endorses a naive view of markets – the magic of free markets is alive and well, and if only we could put a price on carbon to change marketplace incentives, all will be well.

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Now is exactly the right time to regulate oil and gas

January 16th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Environment

Late last year, Prime Minister Harper declared that, given plummeting oil prices, now would be a “crazy” time to introduce regulations on the oil and gas sector.

This comes after promising nine years ago that the federal government would bring in new GHG regulations on the oil and gas sector (but failing to do so), and after committing at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 that Canada would reduce its GHG emissions by 17% by 2020, a target that Environment Canada now says the government has no plan to meet.

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CETA: A Bad Trade for Women

December 18th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Gender Equality, International Trade and Investment

In September the federal government triumphantly announced the conclusion of the Canada-European Union Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). Again. The government boasts that CETA will benefit all Canadians, bringing $12 billion annually to the economy. Generous projections aside, does the government even know how the agreement will affect Canadian men and women? The answer is ‘no.’

So you might be wondering:

Was gender considered in CETA?

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