Behind the Numbers

Armine Yalnizyan’s Blog Posts

Armine Yalnizyan is a Senior Economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (http://www.policyalternatives.ca).

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

April 21st, 2015 · Armine Yalnizyan · 1 Comment · 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 · Armine Yalnizyan · 1 Comment · 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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Grocery Wars: Lessons from Canada’s Changing Retail Landscape

March 4th, 2015 · Armine Yalnizyan · No Comments · Capitalism

As Target Canada tumbled into bankruptcy, Loblaw announced that its fourth-quarter profits more than doubled. What should we make of this tale of two retailers?

The main reason for Loblaw’s surge was its acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart last March, which turned it into Canada’s largest grocer and pharmacy chain.  Shoppers contributed $3 billion to Loblaw’s $11.4 billion take in sales, a 50% jump. Profits more than doubled from the previous year as Loblaw also saw cost savings from the merger. The irony behind this success story is that it was likely Target’s arrival on the retail landscape  that forced Loblaw to step up their game.

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Doubling TFSA Contributions Limits: Even Nastier than Income Splitting

March 2nd, 2015 · Armine Yalnizyan · 1 Comment · Canada, Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

The Harper government gives five reasons why Canadians ought to be happy with its proposal to double the maximum contribution to the Tax-Free Savings Account. Examine each of its points more closely, however, and it’s clear that the TFSA carries far higher risks than rewards — for individual Canadians  as well as for the economy as a whole.

Let’s unpack the government’s arguments one by one:

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Ontario’s slow growth economy: better news than you might think

April 14th, 2014 · Armine Yalnizyan · 1 Comment · Economy & Economic Indicators, Ontario

Ontario’s Minister of Finance recently released a report that looked into the future, and saw a slow growth scenario for our economy over the next 20 years.

Charles Sousa predicts that Ontario’s economy will grow at just above 2 per cent a year, on average, for the next 20 years. To put just how slow that is in context: that’s below the average for the previous 25 years – including the two huge recessions that took place during that period.

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The ‘girl effect’ reduces inequality, but we can’t count on it forever

March 7th, 2014 · Armine Yalnizyan · No Comments · Gender Equality, Income Inequality

This piece was first published in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab.

Every year when International Women’s Day rolls by, I can’t help but reflect on power, how it’s shared, and how women use the power they have. This year, I am struck by women’s power to reduce inequality, and not just to help ourselves. Women are key to reducing income inequality.

It’s been dubbed the girl effect, more powerful than the Internet, science, the government, and even money.

Canada is actually a poster girl (sorry) for the truth that education and hard work can transform not just lives but societies.

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Will income-splitting’s politics trump its lousy economics?

February 14th, 2014 · Armine Yalnizyan · No Comments · Poverty and Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

This piece was first published in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab.

You could hear the sound of jaws dropping across the nation this week when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, in response to a question from a journalist, cast doubt on the idea of income-splitting for young families, something his party has been promising since March 28, 2011.

The idea – which would allow the higher-earning spouse to transfer income to their lower-earning spouse in order to reduce their total tax hit – provoked controversy right from the start. But it became an increasingly hard sell as economists and think tanks from across the political spectrum lined up in agreement: Income-splitting costs too much for something that is worse than doing nothing.

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Why the minimum wage debate isn’t going to go away

February 5th, 2014 · Armine Yalnizyan · No Comments · Income Inequality, Ontario, Poverty and Income Inequality

This piece was first published in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab.

There is a good reason why the minimum wage has fired up so much debate lately. It has to do with how a “trickle-away” recovery has dogged so many advanced economies since the 2008 global crisis hit.

For most people today, growth is happening somewhere else, for someone else. The result is a crescendo of frustration.

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Canada Post’s vow to ‘protect taxpayers’ needs a reality check

December 16th, 2013 · Armine Yalnizyan · No Comments · Employment and Labour

This piece was first published in the Globe & Mail.

In a move that caught everyone off-guard, Canada Post announced a five point “action plan” last week that included phasing-out home delivery of the mail over the next five years, making Canada the only G7 nation to do so. Why? To “protect taxpayers.”

Of all the reasons that merit discussion as to whether letter carriers belong to a redundant class of workers, like the milkman or iceman, taxpayer protection isn’t one. This Crown corporation is more likely to make money than lose it.

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How Harper can avoid turning the Budget Implementation Bill into a Duffy Budget Bill

November 27th, 2013 · Armine Yalnizyan · No Comments · Economy & Economic Indicators, Federal Budget

On November 25th, I made the following submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance regarding Bill C-4, Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2, on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  

1.     Introduction and Context

Thank you for the invitation to appear before the Committee, as Members of Parliament review the second budget implementation bill for the budget of 2013.

It is a particular honour to appear as a witness, since this committee will only hear eight hours of testimony from witnesses — including one hour from the Finance Minister — over just 2 days of hearings.

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