Behind the Numbers

C-51 hearings begin in Ottawa. We’ll be watching.

March 10th, 2015 · · Democracy, Human Rights, International Relations, Military, Peace & Conflict

Public attention in Canada is appropriately focused on proposed omnibus security legislation (Bill C-51) that, from most expert accounts, appears to unnecessarily weaken privacy protections and threaten civil liberties to give Canada’s spy agencies, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP in particular, new powers of preventative arrest and the ability to disrupt potential terrorist activities (through illegal means if a court warrant will allow it).

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7 billion is a lot of money

March 9th, 2015 · · Gender Equality, Quebec

Exiting the crisis comes with a cost. For women in Quebec, the price tag has nearly reached $7 billion since 2008. And that’s just part of the story…let’s start with the beginning.

In 2008, the province of Quebec, like most Western states, was hit by an economic crisis that many claim was the worst since the (in)famous Wall Street Crash of 1929. For the two following years, the government felt justified in accumulating deficits. However, as soon as growth —however weak— reared its head again, austerity measures were brought in. The government was apparently swayed by the mystical call to eliminate the deficit.

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Alberta has nation’s largest gender gap and it’s growing

March 6th, 2015 · · Alberta, Child Care, Economy & Economic Indicators, Gender Equality, Poverty and Income Inequality

In 1995, Canada made historic commitments to implement gender equality in all policies, programs, and laws when it adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. That same year saw the adoption in Canada of The Federal Plan for Gender Equality to secure gender equality in all aspects of social, political, legal, and economic life in Canada.

A new Parkland Institute report demonstrates that women in Alberta, who were early leaders in moving toward greater sex equality, had already begun losing ground relative to men for some years by the time these commitments were made in the mid-1990s.

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Women’s roller coaster ride in Ontario’s labour market

March 6th, 2015 · · Employment and Labour, Gender Equality, Ontario

In anticipation of International Women’s Day (this Sunday), let’s look at how women are faring in Ontario’s labour market.

Here’s a shocker: in terms of Ontario’s employment rate, women have made no gains since the year 2000. Women began the century with an employment rate of 57.4 per cent (12 month moving average, December 2000) and they began 2015 with an employment rate of 57.2 per cent – slightly less than the December 2000 number.

And in between those years, women have been on a roller coaster ride when it comes to jobs.

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Grocery Wars: Lessons from Canada’s Changing Retail Landscape

March 4th, 2015 · · 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 · · 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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All your wage gap questions answered

February 26th, 2015 · · Employment and Labour, Gender Equality, Income Inequality, Media

Do women really make less than men?

Women make less than men. In Canada. In the United States. In every country in the world.

Belgium (yes, chocolate lovers, Belgium) has the smallest wage gap in the world. Women earn just 6% less than men in Belgium. Canada comes in 25th among high-income countries, with women earning, on average, 20% less than men.

Photo credit: The Wrap


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Teach For Canada: De- or re-colonizing Aboriginal communities in Canada?

February 25th, 2015 · · Aboriginal Issues, Education

As instruments for advancing democratic values, Canada’s public schools have an ambiguous legacy. Over the years, many exclusionary and colonialist policies have been challenged, and this shift in cultural values has inspired policies to help make public schools in Canada more diverse and accessible.

It is less apparent, however, that public schools in Canada have come to grips with the historical impacts, and ongoing threats, of colonialism. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada has no colonial history, but a more honest evaluation of the real situation would begin by acknowledging that “First Nations people in Canada continue to suffer from the onslaught of colonization.”

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Apples and oranges: Comparing B.C. and Ontario debt ratios

February 20th, 2015 · · British Columbia, Ontario

The February 18, 2015 edition of the Globe and Mail featured an article by the paper’s B.C. correspondent Gary Mason, which in part drew favourable attention to BC’s debt-to-GDP ratio in comparison with that of Ontario.

On face value, B.C.’s reported debt-to-GDP ratio calculated from its most recent audited statements of 18.2% looks pretty good compared with the ratio for the same time period reported for Ontario of 38.4%. Unfortunately, a fair comparison of the positions of the two provinces is not as straightforward as it might seem.

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Big money spent in healthcare

February 17th, 2015 · · Health Care

Is 50% of Quebec spending is directed towards healthcare? It’s true, if you turn a blind eye to just how that number was calculated. Were we to be a bit more nuanced and honest regarding “healthcare costs”, we would come to a figure between 33% and 34%. We would realize that compared to the size of Quebec’s whole economy, Quebeckers’ healthcare spending increases at a rhythm which is far from unsustainable. In the end, we would realize that the increased spending is not necessarily what we make it to be.

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