For the first time in Canadian history, an election is being waged on this question: Which political candidate do you trust to reduce income inequality?
Welcome to the Toronto-Centre by-election, where voters go to the polls on November 25.
Two Toronto-Centre political candidates are stealing the show in this by-election for one simple reason: they’re the first Canadians to put income inequality front and centre during an election-time political campaign.
The candidates are: Journalist Chrystia Freeland (Liberal), who wrote a book called The Plutocrats, and journalist Linda McQuaig (NDP), who recently wrote a book called The Problem With Billionaires. ...Read more
Tags: Ontario·Poverty and Income Inequality·Toronto
After more than 100 years of business, Leamington’s Heinz plant is closing, throwing 740 people out of work and sending the community into economic shock.
I grew up in Leamington. Many of my first memories are of the tomato harvest.
Tomato season meant family dinners sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck while Dad and Opa took a short break from the field.
It meant tomato fights that seemed to go on forever because we never had to worry about running out of ammunition.
It meant roads full of slow-moving vehicles and slick tomato shrapnel that had fallen off the back of a wagon. ...Read more
Tags: Economy & Economic Indicators·Employment and Labour·Ontario
I have been hard on our new Employment and Social Development Minister, Jason Kenney, for buying into a widespread myth about labour shortages and skill mismatches in Canada. So, to give credit where credit is due, it appears Minister Kenney has been listening to the growing chorus of voices disputing the existence of a labour shortage in Canada. ...Read more
Tags: Employment and Labour
The Fraser Institute would like to remove compassion from the policy debate about poverty in Canada. Why? Because, according to the author of this report, Christopher Sarlo, compassion is causing us to confuse those who have lower income with those who do not have enough income to sustain life. For Sarlo, those who use relative measures of poverty, which set a poverty line relative to, for example, the median income in Canada, are being misled by emotions. He writes: “Poverty, like disability, is an emotional issue, laden with strong feelings of sadness and disapprobation, but there is surely some value in setting emotion aside in order to measure the phenomenon as objectively as possible.” ...Read more
Tags: Economy & Economic Indicators·Poverty and Income Inequality
It seems everywhere I turn people are talking income inequality. Whether it’s on the pages of the current Globe and Mail series, The Wealth Paradox, or in the Toronto-Centre by-election where both front-runners claim to be experts on the subject, the issue finally seems to be taking up space in the public consciousness.
But conversations don’t necessarily translate into the kind of political interventions needed to meaningfully reduce income inequality. What is actually being done to correct the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us right here in Ontario? ...Read more
Tags: Economy & Economic Indicators·Employment and Labour·Jobs·Poverty and Income Inequality
The Minister of Finance on Tuesday announced the fall update to the country’s finances. There was a surprise in the works for Canadians, instead of the $3.8 billion surplus in 2015-16 from the 2013 Budget, Finance is now projecting a $6.7 billion surplus—or nearly twice as much money. In both cases, the published projections include a randomly selected subtraction $3 billion “risk adjustment” meaning the published surpluses are projected at $0.8 billion (2013 Budget) and $3.7 billion (Fall Update).
So where did the surprise cash come from to balance the budget in time for the election? Stupendous economic growth, substantial new employment? Hardly. ...Read more
Tags: Economy & Economic Indicators·Federal Budget
A leaked Ontario Progressive Conservative document reveals a deep disconnect between ideologically driven wedge politics and the realpolitik of Ontario’s struggling middle class.
The document lays out a provincial election plan for the party that is premised on an explicit attack on workers and a promise to bring in American-style low-wage policies.
In other words, the middle class could soon be up for sale in Ontario – at bargain basement rates.
It’s a path Ontario would be wise to avoid.
In the U.S., where the Progressive Conservative party is getting its policy ideas these days, there has been a concerted effort to drive down workers’ wages. ...Read more
Tags: Employment and Labour·Ontario·Rand Formula
The basic storyline of last week’s C. D. Howe Institute “E-Brief”, “Canada Lagging Peers in 2013 Business Investment Growth,” is that corporate tax cuts helped boost investment per worker in Canada above the OECD average. Yet corporate Canada is slipping in 2013 and apparently needs more tax cuts.
However, the C. D. Howe Institute’s own graph (Figure 1 on page 3) shows no improvement in Canadian business investment – either in absolute terms or relative to the OECD average – between 2000 and 2004, when the former Liberal government slashed the federal corporate tax rate from 29% to 22% (including the 1% surtax). ...Read more
Tags: Economy & Economic Indicators·Federal Budget
Today’s Toronto Star (page B2) quotes me pointing out that, between September and October, unemployment remained at 1,325,000, well above its pre-recession level.
The participation rate remained 66.4%, its lowest level in more than a decade (since February 2002), reflecting the fact that hundreds of thousands have dropped out of the job market altogether and are no longer counted as being unemployed.
The words “little change” appear eight times in yesterday’s Statistics Canada press release on the Labour Force Survey. The figures for October are indeed remarkably similar to September. ...Read more
Tags: Employment and Labour·Media
I was asked on Tuesday to present to the federal Finance Committee and comment on the government’s latest budget. I thought I’d share my remarks with readers:
I’d like to thank the committee for their invitation on this important and ongoing issue of “fiscal sustainability and economic growth” in Canada. It is unfortunate that 5 years after the recession we are still talking about economic growth and the lack of a full recovery in either GDP growth or the labour market. ...Read more
Tags: Federal Budget·FINA·Government Finance