Behind the Numbers

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 Generations Fund: getting into debt for very little gain

April 20th, 2015 · · Quebec

Two weeks ago, Quebec’s Finance Minister was very proud to announce that Quebec had eradicated its deficit. Obviously, he refrained from going over the list of all the cuts, decreased services, and job losses that were required to reach this fiscal Holy Grail.

The absurdity of putting away, year after year, large sums of money into a Generations Fund while public finances were in the red also remained unmentioned.

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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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Got a problem? Privatize it (and pay the price for selling off Hydro One later).

April 16th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Ontario

The provincially appointed panel led by former TD Bank CEO Ed Clark has released its final report and the Wynne government has said it will act on its recommendations.

It includes fully privatizing part of  Hydro One and selling off a majority stake in what remains.

The government is trying to position this sale as an “asset swap”, promising to use the proceeds of the sale to fund much needed investments in transit infrastructure. But in doing so, the government is ignoring its own previous expert advice: neither Metrolinx nor a provincially appointed panel headed by Ann Golden, suggested selling off vital public assets to fund transit.

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We’re paying for $7/day child care, so why is only one province getting it?

April 15th, 2015 · · Child Care, Income Inequality

Many Canadians don’t know that Quebec has the least expensive childcare in the country at $7/day (well actually $7.30 now). Meanwhile in Toronto parents pay $49/day, and in Vancouver it’s $41 a day for toddlers/preschoolers.

It’s no surprise that $7/day childcare is wildly popular in Quebec. It’s far cheaper than the national average, and allows for more parents, and far more women to enter (or re-enter) the workforce. It also creates more spaces in regulated centres.

In Canada, there are a million families with working parents who have young children. However, there are only half a million regulated child care spaces, leaving parents with long wait times and an increased reliance on the unregulated sector.

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Quand austérité rime avec hostilité

April 10th, 2015 · · Immigration, Quebec

Selon Philippe Couillard, l’austérité ne serait rien d’autre « qu’une vue de l’esprit ».

Or, comme l’a si bien dit Philip K. Dick, célèbre auteur américain de romans de science-fiction, « la réalité, c’est ce qui continue d’exister lorsque l’on cesse d’y croire ».

Dans la même veine, que l’on « croit » ou non à l’austérité, les très réelles compressions dans les services publics ont des conséquences biens concrètes. Elles brisent les liens de solidarité sociale qui existent à travers les institutions et, contrairement à cette déclaration du premier ministre selon laquelle « la rigueur budgétaire ne devrait pas être source de morosité », elles induisent un véritable pessimisme chez celles et ceux qui les subissent.

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NS Budget 2015: Ignores Real Problems, Lacks Vision

April 9th, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Nova Scotia, public services

The Nova Scotia budget tabled today is without vision. It was constructed to deal primarily with the deficit.

Undertaking ‘restructuring’ and ‘right-sizing’ of the public sector to balance the budget may well make things worse. In contrast, CCPA-NS projected that Nova Scotia’s fiscal health will continually improve provided the government recognizes its responsibility to invest in the economy, and economic growth.

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