Behind the Numbers

Rigour is meant for others

December 11th, 2014 · · public services

Rigorous analysis: so overrated!

Late in November, former Liberal cabinet minister Lucienne Robillard unveiled the first set of recommendations by her advisory group tasked with reviewing Quebec government spending. Indeed, in June, the Couillard government mandated the committee to find potential avenues to reach a targeted $3.2G in savings in an attempt to shore up Quebec’s public finances and reduce the cost of debt servicing.

older updates No CommentsTags: ·

High-priced help: Spending on consultants increases by 228%

December 11th, 2014 · · public services, Saskatchewan

I am not sure which is more alarming: the fact that the Saskatchewan government increased its spending on consultants by 228% in the last five years, or that Provincial Auditor Judy Ferguson found that the government can’t even justify their need for consultants.

Ferguson’s report, released December 3, devotes an entire chapter to the surging use of consultants by the Ministry of Central Services. She documents that spending on consultants increased from $8.1 million to $21.7 million from 2008-09 to 2013-14. The total spending on consultants for all ministries shot up even more: from $36.7 million to $120.3 million, or by 228%. Such a meteoric rise in consultants must mean they are desperately needed, doesn’t it?

older updates No CommentsTags: ····

A tough month for job seekers in Ontario

December 5th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario

After a gain of 37,000 jobs in October, Ontario posted a loss of 33,900 jobs in November.

Unfortunately, 80% of those losses were in full-time work.

Ontario’s year-to-date unemployment rate is now 7.3%. The province’s employment rate, which provides a snapshot of how many people are actually working in paid employment, nudged down a bit: year-to-date, Ontario’s employment rate is 61.2%. To put that into perspective, the employment rate in 2012, post-recession, was 61.3% and in 2013 it was 61.4%.

The November job numbers run counter to an overall trend in 2014: the year featured nine months of net job growth and two months of net job losses.

older updates 1 CommentTags: ·

Inequality is falling in Canada, but not for the reasons you think

November 26th, 2014 · · Income Inequality

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post included a graph that inadvertently made use of misleading historical stock market data. It has since been corrected and the author apologies for the error.

Statistics Canada surprised a lot of observers last week when it declared that income inequality in Canada is on the way down.

According to their newly published figures, the share of incomes going to the top 1% of income earners in Canada declined from 12.1% to 10.3% between 2006 and 2012. It is the first prolonged period since 1982 where the bottom 99% of income earners in Canada actually gained any ground on the very wealthy.

older updates No CommentsTags: ····

A generation of broken promises: The 2014 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia

November 24th, 2014 · · Nova Scotia, Poverty and Income Inequality

“Study after study describes poverty as a profound and damning thing for child development. The political response has been to watch poverty levels dip and rise. On the sidelines, statisticians have debated how measurement might best occur…too often with a view to reporting the lowest numbers possible. There have been champions. Despite that Canada has arrived at a shameful place. 

Right now our inaction tells the world this nation thinks one in four children are not worth it. 

Not worth feeding. 

Not worth shelter. 

older updates No CommentsTags: ··

Nova Scotia Tax Review: Eroding Tax Fairness

November 19th, 2014 · · Income Inequality, Nova Scotia, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

The Nova Scotia Tax Review released today lacks an analysis of the impact its tax changes will have on Nova Scotians. Who would benefit? A simple distributional analysis of different income groups would give us some information. Not available. (Informative to check out the analysis we did for the Hamm government’s proposed cuts back in 2003 – by income level & by gender and county.)

What is the anticipated effect of the tax changes on the economy? How many jobs might be created by this tax package? There is no evidence in this report on either of those. What can be said based on what we know about the problems facing the province, the current tax regime and the impact of taxes and government spending on the economy?

older updates 1 CommentTags: ··

Ontario’s economic update: pieced together with string and masking tape

November 17th, 2014 · · Ontario, public services

This afternoon, Ontario released its Fall Economic Update and Fiscal Review.

Both revenues and economic growth are slightly lower than expected. But, the government is sticking to its deficit reduction plan; and holding it together with string and masking tape.

It is hoping that an increased focus on collecting taxes that are owed and shifting around reserve funds will do the trick this year.  Meeting its  timeline to reduce the deficit to zero will rely on program spending growth at less than 1 per cent per year until 2017-18.

older updates 1 CommentTags: ··

IPCC doom, gloom and an LED light at the end of the tunnel

November 17th, 2014 · · Energy Policy, Environment

The latest from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a super-synthesis of the state of agreed knowledge about climate change, adaptation and mitigation. Imagine thousands of research papers summarized in three major volumes (released over the past year), with this new report the grand summary of that. And even that condensed into a 40-page summary for policymakers.

Now I will humbly boil that down to a few key observations: climate change is happening and costs are piling up; it’s caused by human activity, primarily the combustion of coal, oil and gas; staying on our current pathway risks ever-greater danger of irreversible adverse impacts around the world; and, perhaps most importantly, we still have time for a soft landing if we act quickly.

older updates No CommentsTags: ·

Have artists become their own patrons in Quebec?

November 12th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Quebec

We’ve all heard people claim that artists “don’t work” or “don’t do any real work.” Some even go so far as to say that artists are just parasites living off the rest of society. IRIS looked into how creators, artists, and craftsmen and -women in the audiovisual sector organize their work. The findings were published under the title “Le travail des artistes est-il payé à sa juste valeur? [Are artists paid fairly for their work?]”. In this study, we expose artists’ working conditions in the audiovisual sector (we use the term “artist” to cover all the actors, screenwriters, technicians, directors… nearly everyone working in the sector) as well as the unpaid time and money they invest into their projects to ensure that Quebec culture stays dynamic.

older updates No CommentsTags: ···

Women are talking. Who’s listening?

November 7th, 2014 · · Aboriginal Issues, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Gender Equality

The question is not, are we sorry? The question is, what lesson have we learned? The question is, what are we going to do now that we are sorry?”

- J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace. Penguin Books, 1999.

Women in Canada are speaking. They are speaking about the violence that one in four women will experience in her lifetime. What is most remarkable to me about this moment in particular, is not the fact of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Not the prevalence of these forms of violence. Not even that women are telling these stories (although I stand in awe of their courage). What is remarkable to me about this moment is that the survivors of these forms of violence are being given increasingly wide venues in which to be heard.

older updates No CommentsTags: ·

Older updates older updates