Behind the Numbers

Get back in line, Mr. Premier

October 17th, 2014 · · Health Care, Saskatchewan, Uncategorized

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall once again stirred the privatization pot yesterday when he took to social media to ask: “Is it time to allow people to pay for their own private MRI’s in Saskatchewan like they can do in Alberta?” The Premier’s twitter trial balloon suggests the government will argue that allowing private, for-profit MRIs will help reduce wait times in the public system. The Premier himself added: “It does make sense that the wait list is going to shrink because those who want to pay will come off that public wait list and they’ll get their MRIs and thereby shortening the wait list for all, whether they want to pay or not.”

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Wage War on Poverty, Not on Teachers and Schools: Poverty and Education in Nova Scotia

October 17th, 2014 · · Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia, Poverty and Income Inequality

Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. There is lots of work ahead of us before we achieve that goal.

Poverty rates in Canada are growing and the income gap is widening as more and more of the working force are working for minimum wage, or less than previous years due to the rising costs of living. The most recent report card on child and family poverty in Nova Scotia reports that the child poverty rate in Nova Scotia is 17.3%; the fifth highest in the country.

childpovertyimage

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$15 child care: Canada’s hottest new political pledge?

October 15th, 2014 · · Alberta, Child Care, Gender Equality, Income Inequality, Maritime Provinces, Poverty and Income Inequality, public services, Quebec, Taxes and Tax Cuts

As Canada’s Twitter elite (economists, pundits, partisans) broke out into a virtual policy brawl over yesterday’s NDP national affordable child care pledge, I couldn’t help but think the party might have hit a political sweet spot.

Of course there were the typical Twitter arguments between Liberals and New Democrats that break out every time one of them makes a political pledge.

But another line of argumentation unfolded on my Twitter news feed – one designed to exploit class tensions. The argument advanced by a few well-off Twitterati asserts that universally accessible, affordable programs, like child care, aren’t progressive because rich people can afford to pay for these services themselves.

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Labour Market Trends: Ontario’s ongoing struggle to recover

October 14th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario

Ontario’s unemployment rate dropped in September 2014 to its lowest level since October 2008 – good news or bad?

On the surface, this month’s Statistics Canada numbers could seem like a good news kind of story.

Temporary employment fell.

Part-time employment grew at the same rate as full-time employment.

And, perhaps because of the growth in full-time jobs, even self-employment growth seems to have slowed.

At the same time, it is clear that Ontario’s labour force hasn’t fully recovered from the global economic recession.

Here are a few troubling signs I’m keeping my eye on:

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You say tomato, I say fish: or, why we we treat property taxes differently

October 9th, 2014 · · Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Recently, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business received some media attention for their report on the relationship between residential and business property taxes in Ontario.

While a step up from the norm (this report is based on some actual data as opposed to a survey of the views of its members) that the CFIB would whinge about taxes is not new, nor is the fact that their results are misleading and contradictory.

Essentially, the CFIB makes one point: that business (commercial and industrial) property tax is higher than residential property tax.

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The Quebec Employers Council’s Report Card: Much Ado About Nothing

October 1st, 2014 · · corporations

For the fifth consecutive year, the Conseil du patronat (CPQ, Quebec Employers Council) published its report card on prosperity. Once more, Quebec’s grade (C) leads to the impression that it’s not doing enough to foster economic growth.

Taxation is obviously at the heart of critiques, as are the Costs for Employee Compensation and the strong union presence which sets Quebec apart from other Canadian provinces. It’s not very surprising: the CPQ has always put its own interests before those of the population as a whole.

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Austerity 2.0: Kinder and gentler, but a cut is still a cut

October 1st, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Here in Ontario, we have glimpsed the future, and it looks a lot like Austerity 2.0.

That’s what Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s mandate letters set out for her cabinet last week.

On the one hand, the premier is instructing her ministers to invest – in poverty reduction, transit and transportation improvements, and (hopefully) job creation.

But, with those same letters, ministers are being told to hold the line on spending. Even after two years of her predecessor’s austerity cuts, Wynne has instructed her cabinet to find $250 to $500 million in savings every year until 2017-18 – her target to eliminate the province’s fiscal deficit.

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Climate Change: The Great Educational Challenge

September 23rd, 2014 · · Education, Environment, Nova Scotia

This blog is the third in CCPA-NS’ series called “Progressive Voices on Public Education in Nova Scotia.”

 

The People’s Climate March showed an incredible level of solidarity across our planet and was a visible way to capture the news cycle and send a message to world leaders to act. But, climate change itself is not news. For those of us who are latecomers to the scene, Al Gore’s 2006 award-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” should have alerted us. If that didn’t do it, surely the Fourth Report (2007) and the Fifth Report (2013) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would have. We can no longer hide from the extremely unpleasant fact that climate change is the most serious crisis humankind has ever faced. We must take action commensurate to the weight of this remarkable challenge.

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Why “Corporate Social Responsibility” is a Crock

September 19th, 2014 · · Alternative Federal Budget, Capitalism, corporations, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Back when I was in the MBA program at the University of Alberta in 1984, a wily professor put the cat among the pigeons. He asked us students to consider whether corporations should forget about charity and good works and simply…pay their taxes.

Businesses, he argued, were good at making money, not social welfare. The difficult decisions on which groups of needy citizens, domestic and foreign, to help out should best be left to elected officials (who could be turfed at the next election if we didn’t like their actions.) And, in the field of making life better for those in great need, governments employ people who actually know what they are doing. As I recall, the suggestion met with considerable support among my fellow business students. We were a pretty perceptive bunch back then.

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Prejudice Against the Poor Refuted by Facts

September 19th, 2014 · · Income Inequality

There are legions of negative preconceived ideas about the poor. We often hear that they make poor financial choices (pun unintended) when managing what little money they have. I studied the data available from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending to assess if they hold up to the facts. For ease of reading, I will not indicate dates for each data point: they extend from 2009 to 2011 according to data availability.

The poor drink more

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