Behind the Numbers

A better way: Toronto’s chance to make transit fares more affordable

July 7th, 2014 · · Cities, Income Inequality, Ontario, public services

Toronto City Council will meet July 8 to vote on the development of a transit fare equity policy for the GTA.

The proposed fare equity policy will put a focus on transit affordability across the city with a particular spotlight on low-income people. City staff and advocates alike have recently pointed out that transit accessibility is about more than location and mobility; it’s about affordability as well.

And just what does affordability mean for low-income individuals living in the GTA?

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Why You Should Care About Austerity

July 7th, 2014 · · public services, Quebec

Québec’s government has radically reduced its spending growth because it has decided that we need to tighten our belts collectively. Since spending growth in some areas of healthcare and education is inevitable in order to maintain certain services, drastic cuts must be made elsewhere. The government maintains that it will not impact the services received by the population. However, this claim does not withstand closer analysis of the sums the government is planning on allocating to each department in the coming year. Let’s look into who will be most impacted:

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Uncorking the Liquor Lobby in Saskatchewan

July 2nd, 2014 · · Democracy, public services, Saskatchewan

As the debate over liquor privatization in Saskatchewan begins to heat up, a common refrain from the current government is that arguments for the superior social responsibility of the public system unfairly impugns the integrity of private sellers. Admonishing NDP leader Cam Broten on his twitter account, Premier Brad Wall asked why the NDP “insult hundreds in SK who serve/retail alcohol by implying they’re not as responsible as those in gov stores.” Now, there is ample evidence that the majority of public liquor stores exercise a more robust system of liquor law compliance and enforcement than that of private stores. This is not to argue that private stores cannot or could not implement the same sort of rigorous system of compliance as that of public stores given stringent government monitoring and enforcement. Rather it is an argument that private stores will always have the very powerful imperative of economic survival working against them. Private retailers have a very obvious self-interest in increasing alcohol consumption – that’s their business. Private liquor retailing creates a conflict between the individual retailer’s drive to increase sales and society’s desire to limit liquor availability to vulnerable populations. As Wayne Henuset – owner of Willow Park Wines and Spirits remarked in response to widespread violations in Alberta:

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Temporary Foreign Workers: A Progressive Solution

June 26th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour

The Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program has become such a mess that its complete elimination for low-skilled occupations is now an active possibility. Business, for its part, is screaming bloody murder that the cancellation will force the shutdown of entire sectors. They claim even offering $100/hour or $180,000/year to serve coffee at Tim Hortons will be inadequate to attract applicants. To boot, there is clear evidence that hiring TFWs instead of, say, Canadian youth is bad for Canadians looking for work.

As a progressive, I’ve wrestled with what to do with this mess. Should the whole program just be cancelled? If so, what happens to the actual Temporary Foreign Workers and, as a progressive, should I even care?

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Time to scrap this relic: Ontario’s 1999 Taxpayer Protection Act

June 24th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Ontario, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

It seems like every newly elected Premier in Ontario who wins on even a slightly progressive platform feels like the first step in office is to help the boys on Bay Street relax.

And so it is, perhaps, that Premier-elect Kathleen Wynne came out of the gates post-election with two primary (albeit mixed) messages: she’ll promote an activist government but “there’s no new money” for even modest raises in the public sector.

Here’s the thing: a broad swath of commentators agree Wynne managed to do the unexpected by securing a majority government.

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Wanted: Big Ideas to Tackle Youth Unemployment

June 19th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Youth

You may not have heard about it because it didn’t receive much media attention, but the Parliamentary Finance Committee has been researching Youth Unemployment.

Canada has a youth unemployment problem. The youth unemployment rate at 13.9% in 2013 is more than twice the rate of those above 25, youth employment has barely improved since the worst of the recession and youth labour force participation has declined substantially. Youth who do have a job are more likely to be working in a precarious, temporary position or to be working part-time involuntarily.

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Will Enbridge’s Pipeline Ever Get Built?

June 18th, 2014 · · British Columbia, Environment

You have to wonder why the Harper government bothered with process at all. It’s like there was never any doubt that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would get approved. But historians may look back on this moment as the beginning of the end of pipeline politics.

Opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline is BC’s largest social movement. A large majority of British Columbians are opposed to the pipeline. BC First Nations, who hold the ultimate trump card – the constitutionality of their rights and title, have said no means no. Thousands testified to the Joint Review Panel (and its arguably limited flawed process). Even friend of fossil fuels, Premier Christy Clark, maintains her five conditions for BC’s approval have not been met.

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#voteON: What we should have been talking about

June 9th, 2014 · · Education, Employment and Labour, Health Care, Income Inequality, Ontario, Poverty and Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts, Uncategorized

The Ontario election is nearing its end and by Thursday night we will know the makeup of the next provincial government.

In some ways, this election featured a lot of substantive debate and policy discussion. For instance, a lot of focus was placed on the relative merit and credibility of the party platforms (and costing of those platforms).

On the other hand, a lot of important issues didn’t get much air time.

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A Paycheck is Not a Lifestyle Choice

June 9th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Gender Equality

Pay GapAllow me to woman-splain some things about the wage gap.

What is the wage gap? When two people have the same job, work the same hours and make different amounts of money that is a wage gap. In Canada, women working full-time earn between 20-23% less than their male colleagues.[i] Pay equity refers to situations where two people perform different tasks that are of comparable value and receive different levels of pay.

Do women always make less than men?

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Latest Job Stats Show Ontario on Unsteady Ground

June 6th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Employment and Labour, Ontario

New Statistics Canada jobs data shows that much of Ontario remains on the same unsteady ground it was on a year ago.

Communities and regions suffering from continually high joblessness and underemployment remain pretty much stuck in that pattern; while the regions that are doing well – such as Kitchener-Waterloo – continue to perform well.

Overall, Ontario’s labour market saw the creation of 14,800 net new jobs last month. This small change masks a loss of 30,000 full-time jobs and a gain of 45,000 part-time jobs.

Much of the big picture data, however, masks a continuing shift in Ontario’s labour market.

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