Behind the Numbers

Piqued by Piketty

July 25th, 2014 · · Income Inequality, Poverty and Income Inequality

It seems rather clear that the main theories in French economist Thomas Piketty’s best-seller Capital in the Twenty-First Century are irritating a number of people. Recommendations to increase taxes on wealth seem to be the most disconcerting to many. First, the British Financial Times did its utmost to point out calculation errors in a work which has largely been acclaimed as an important contribution to documenting fortunes: the OECD is even using its databases. A new offensive has been launched in the media to raise doubts in people’s minds. Following on Herbert Grubel, fellow at the Fraser Institute (AtlasOne, May 23, 2014, reprinted in the Winnipeg Free Press, May 26), Pierre Chaigneau, associate researcher at the Institut économique de Montréal (Le Devoir, July 18), is stepping up to the plate to voice his critiques.

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Funding Denied? Inconceivable! The Fire Swamp of Canadian Student Aid

July 21st, 2014 · · Education, Youth


The decision to accept an offer of admission to university is a pivotal one for students; an emotional experience of high hopes, idealistic expectations and trepidation. But it also marks the first step in a series of necessary and practical preparations for any journey; deciding the best path, weighing the benefits of leaving home or staying, finding a job to save money for the road ahead, and then navigating their provincial student aid system – an adventure all its own. But regrettably, the mechanics of the student aid adventure have largely remained a mystery, where students trying to assemble sufficient financial resources must often resort to leaps of faith in uncharted territory.

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July 1st: Tenants Have No Reason To Celebrate

July 18th, 2014 · · Housing, Quebec

Each year, Canada Day coincides with Moving Day in Quebec. For the luckiest in the lot, the celebrations include heat and sweat, heavy boxes, cumbersome household appliances, laughs with pals, beer and pizza. However, still too often, when leases expire families end up on the street, unable to find adequate and affordable housing.

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For the Sixth Year in a Row, Students are Struggling to Find Summer Jobs.

July 17th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Education, Employment and Labour

There is something great about summer in Canada; it’s hot but also full of promise with places to visit, camping, travelling, cottaging, trips to the beach and various summer events and festivals.

For many of Canada’s students, however, summer has not been so great. New data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey released Friday shows that students are struggling to find summer jobs for the sixth year in a row.

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Financial Risk and Alberta’s Tar Sands

July 16th, 2014 · · Alberta, Environment

When it comes to global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that what matters is the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions going forward. This amounts to about 30 years of emissions at current levels – a global carbon budget that would provide the world a 66% chance of staying below 2°C. There is some debate about whether an upper limit of 2°C is itself too high – it poses unacceptable and catastrophic consequences for the most vulnerable countries – but nonetheless the 2°C target has been adopted in international negotiations towards a new treaty to address climate change.

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Temporary Foreign Worker Program changes – who do they help?

July 15th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Human Rights

The Conservative Government’s Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, announced on June 20th 2014 a raft of changes to the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The program has attracted controversy since at least 2006, most recently when the CBC reported that MacDonald’s outlets in Victoria were favoring temporary foreign workers over Canadians in hiring decisions and the allocation of hours.

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EI is Not Actually Helping the Poor

July 14th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Employment Insurance, Income Inequality

Who does employment insurance help? It seems like an obvious question. One would assume that EI is for Canadians who’ve lost their jobs and are therefore going to be low income. EI is meant to support them through hard times as they hopefully get another job and get back on their feet.

But…. what if we look at what income quintile EI recipients formerly found themselves? Were they low-income, middle class, or rich before they got laid off? I did some digging and I was surprised by the result.

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Ontario Labour Market Remains Stuck on Precarity

July 11th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Employment and Labour, Ontario

Today is jobs Friday – the day that Statistics Canada’s monthly job report is released – and the numbers show Ontario’s labour market remains stuck in a precarious state.

Ontario lost 34,000 jobs between May and June. On a year-over-year basis, Ontario created only 10,000 new jobs between June 2013 and June 2014.

Total year-over-year gain: 2,000 full-time jobs and 8,000 part-time jobs.

Not only that, but the increase in employment comes entirely in the 55+ age bracket where employment increased by over 100,000 individuals (this age group also saw a population increase of 125,000).

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More People Chase Fewer Jobs

July 11th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour

Statistics Canada reported today that unemployment jumped by 25,700 in June because of shrinking employment and a growing labour force. Canada’s labour force expanded because of population growth, even though the participation rate did not increase. The combination of less employment and a larger working-age population depressed the employment rate to 61.4% – its lowest level since January 2010.

The Harper government has long trumpeted having a stronger job market than the US. In June, the unemployment rate rose in Canada but fell in the US. Statistics Canada reports that it is now the same on both sides of the border, even after adjusting for methodological differences between the two countries.

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The Taxpayers’ Federation is wrong about SSHRC

July 9th, 2014 · · Education

Did you hear about the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation’s latest research stunt?

Just before Canada Day – a time when high school graduates are touring university campuses around the country – the CTF slapped a graduation cap and gown on their ubiquitous pig mascot and held a press conference denouncing ‘wacky’ student research projects that receive public funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Demonstrating significant intellectual stretch, a CTF intern and undergraduate student explained the organization’s position as follows: “SSHRC may be giving a few students free money for wacky research – [but] they’re actually burdening all Canadian students with higher taxes and millions added to federal government debt.”

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