Behind the Numbers

$15 child care: Canada’s hottest new political pledge?

October 15th, 2014 · · Alberta, Child Care, Gender Equality, Income Inequality, Maritime Provinces, Poverty and Income Inequality, public services, Quebec, Taxes and Tax Cuts

As Canada’s Twitter elite (economists, pundits, partisans) broke out into a virtual policy brawl over yesterday’s NDP national affordable child care pledge, I couldn’t help but think the party might have hit a political sweet spot.

Of course there were the typical Twitter arguments between Liberals and New Democrats that break out every time one of them makes a political pledge.

But another line of argumentation unfolded on my Twitter news feed – one designed to exploit class tensions. The argument advanced by a few well-off Twitterati asserts that universally accessible, affordable programs, like child care, aren’t progressive because rich people can afford to pay for these services themselves.

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Labour Market Trends: Ontario’s ongoing struggle to recover

October 14th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario

Ontario’s unemployment rate dropped in September 2014 to its lowest level since October 2008 – good news or bad?

On the surface, this month’s Statistics Canada numbers could seem like a good news kind of story.

Temporary employment fell.

Part-time employment grew at the same rate as full-time employment.

And, perhaps because of the growth in full-time jobs, even self-employment growth seems to have slowed.

At the same time, it is clear that Ontario’s labour force hasn’t fully recovered from the global economic recession.

Here are a few troubling signs I’m keeping my eye on:

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You say tomato, I say fish: or, why we we treat property taxes differently

October 9th, 2014 · · Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Recently, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business received some media attention for their report on the relationship between residential and business property taxes in Ontario.

While a step up from the norm (this report is based on some actual data as opposed to a survey of the views of its members) that the CFIB would whinge about taxes is not new, nor is the fact that their results are misleading and contradictory.

Essentially, the CFIB makes one point: that business (commercial and industrial) property tax is higher than residential property tax.

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The Quebec Employers Council’s Report Card: Much Ado About Nothing

October 1st, 2014 · · corporations

For the fifth consecutive year, the Conseil du patronat (CPQ, Quebec Employers Council) published its report card on prosperity. Once more, Quebec’s grade (C) leads to the impression that it’s not doing enough to foster economic growth.

Taxation is obviously at the heart of critiques, as are the Costs for Employee Compensation and the strong union presence which sets Quebec apart from other Canadian provinces. It’s not very surprising: the CPQ has always put its own interests before those of the population as a whole.

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Austerity 2.0: Kinder and gentler, but a cut is still a cut

October 1st, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Here in Ontario, we have glimpsed the future, and it looks a lot like Austerity 2.0.

That’s what Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s mandate letters set out for her cabinet last week.

On the one hand, the premier is instructing her ministers to invest – in poverty reduction, transit and transportation improvements, and (hopefully) job creation.

But, with those same letters, ministers are being told to hold the line on spending. Even after two years of her predecessor’s austerity cuts, Wynne has instructed her cabinet to find $250 to $500 million in savings every year until 2017-18 – her target to eliminate the province’s fiscal deficit.

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Climate Change: The Great Educational Challenge

September 23rd, 2014 · · Education, Environment, Nova Scotia

This blog is the third in CCPA-NS’ series called “Progressive Voices on Public Education in Nova Scotia.”

 

The People’s Climate March showed an incredible level of solidarity across our planet and was a visible way to capture the news cycle and send a message to world leaders to act. But, climate change itself is not news. For those of us who are latecomers to the scene, Al Gore’s 2006 award-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” should have alerted us. If that didn’t do it, surely the Fourth Report (2007) and the Fifth Report (2013) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would have. We can no longer hide from the extremely unpleasant fact that climate change is the most serious crisis humankind has ever faced. We must take action commensurate to the weight of this remarkable challenge.

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Why “Corporate Social Responsibility” is a Crock

September 19th, 2014 · · Alternative Federal Budget, Capitalism, corporations, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Back when I was in the MBA program at the University of Alberta in 1984, a wily professor put the cat among the pigeons. He asked us students to consider whether corporations should forget about charity and good works and simply…pay their taxes.

Businesses, he argued, were good at making money, not social welfare. The difficult decisions on which groups of needy citizens, domestic and foreign, to help out should best be left to elected officials (who could be turfed at the next election if we didn’t like their actions.) And, in the field of making life better for those in great need, governments employ people who actually know what they are doing. As I recall, the suggestion met with considerable support among my fellow business students. We were a pretty perceptive bunch back then.

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Prejudice Against the Poor Refuted by Facts

September 19th, 2014 · · Income Inequality

There are legions of negative preconceived ideas about the poor. We often hear that they make poor financial choices (pun unintended) when managing what little money they have. I studied the data available from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending to assess if they hold up to the facts. For ease of reading, I will not indicate dates for each data point: they extend from 2009 to 2011 according to data availability.

The poor drink more

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Saskatchewan – The Next Frontier for P3s

September 18th, 2014 · · Cities, corporations, Saskatchewan, Uncategorized

By Cheryl Stadnichuk

Eighteen months ago, John McBride, the CEO of Public Private Partnerships Canada, was at a cocktail party during a P3 conference in the United States. “All people wanted to talk about,” he said, “was what was happening in Saskatchewan.” McBride was one of dozens of speakers at the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce’s second P3 Summit on June 9 in Regina. The conference brought together proponents of P3s (public private partnerships), construction companies like PCL and Graham, financial advisors, lawyers and delegates from provincial, municipal and school board sectors. Its not surprising that McBride gave his anecdote from the United States. The speakers and organizers were clearly aiming to hype Saskatchewan as the next frontier for P3s (as does this insert from The National Post.)

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Does Premier Brad Wall agree with ALEC?

September 16th, 2014 · · Energy Policy, Saskatchewan

Revelations from the Toronto Star today that the Saskatchewan government has paid $3 million to U.S. lobbying firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough to influence American policymakers should not really come as a surprise. As the Star notes, both B.C. and Alberta also maintain extensive lobbying capacity to pursue their respective provincial business interests in the United States. Whether or not this is a wise use of taxpayer money is up to the Saskatchewan public to decide. However, what does come as a surprise is the lobbying firm itself. Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough is both a member and State corporate co-chair the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). You might know ALEC as the United States’ premier “corporate bill mill.” ALEC has also been characterized by the New York Times as a “stealth business lobbyist” and as a “bill laundry” for corporate policy ideas by Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

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