True confession time, people.
I commit sociology.
And not just as a one-off.
You might say—all right, I will say it—that I’m a repeat offender. In fact, I’m practically addicted. Scarcely a minute can go by without my synapses looking for their next fix.
That might not be a politically correct admission. After all, this is tough-on-crime Canada, where such wanton disregard for Father-Knows-Best-ology and doing the “right” thing (and not in that perilously-close-to-committing-sociology Spike Lee kind of way) seems almost, well, unpatriotic. ...Read more
It might have been my imagination (or perhaps wishful thinking), but in the midst of this year’s back-to-school media coverage, the issue of student debt seemed a little more prominent than usual.
At least two surveys identified high levels of debt ($28k on average), and the stress—more than that of finding a job or getting good grades–this is causing students. The federal government estimates the cost of a university degree (including accommodation, tuition, food and other expenses) to be $60k for a four-year degree, while a separate survey put that figure at closer to $80k. ...Read more
Tags: Economy & Economic Indicators·Education·Media·university·Youth
It’s difficult to overstate the significance of the Quebec student strike (the longest in North American history) and resultant public backlash against the provincial government’s Orwellian response.
Not that you’d know it. According to mainstream (predominantly) English media, Montreal is being held hostage by a handful of scruffy, possibly naked, hooky-playing slack-tivists who got distracted on the way to a door-crasher sale at the Apple store and decided to stop traffic while demanding their constitutional right to free lattes. Or something. ...Read more
Tags: Democracy·Economy & Economic Indicators·Education·Poverty and Income Inequality·Student strike·Taxes and Tax Cuts
On June 7, I gave a keynote address to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Education Sector Conference. My PowerPoint presentation (with full references) can be found at this link.
Points I raised in the address include the following:
-Canada’s economy has been growing quite steadily over the past three decades, even when one adjusts for inflation, and even when one accounts for population growth. The exceptions, of course, occur during recessions.
-Yet, since the early 1980s, the federal government has been spending less, relative to GDP. Since that time, it has spent less on both “program expenses” and debt-servicing (again, notwithstanding what’s happened during recessions, which represent relatively small blips when compared to the long-term trend). ...Read more
Trish Hennessy is Director of Strategic Issues with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Several polls released this spring reveal the extent of concern among Canadians about worsening income inequality.
Most Canadians say that deep income inequality undermines Canadian values. The majority of Canadians tell pollsters they would support political leadership to reverse the trend.
But what, some ask, can be done about income inequality?
I turned to leading thinkers on this issue – starting with our own stable of experts from the CCPA, but broadening out to experts in housing, employment, taxes, child care, and poverty reduction – and asked them to submit an idea they think would contribute to reducing inequality. ...Read more
Tags: affordable housing·Child Care·Education·Income Inequality·minimum wage·poverty reduction. basic income·Taxes and Tax Cuts
Why is it still, for some, a newsflash that reality for today’s youth is a solar system away from the world of just 25 or 30 years ago?
The thumbnail sketch is bleak: since 1987, incomes have stagnated for most Canadian homes—with two exceptions. The lowest income earners have actually lost ground while the wealthiest among us have disproportionately benefited. Meanwhile, people are working harder and longer than ever before, with less to show for it except maybe where sheer exhaustion is concerned. And then there’s household debt which has risen from 93% in 1990 to 150% today. ...Read more
Tags: Education·quebec·Student strike
Anglo Canada is sticking its fingers in its ears and humming a happy song. Many in the English-speaking punditocracy and media (or perhaps mediocracy?) are doing their best to persuade us that student protests in Quebec are nothing of any consequence.
This is getting a little harder to do, now that so many other folks are joining the students. But it is not too late to jump on the bandwagon to ridicule or demonize the protesters. Just follow these simple steps. (Steps can be rearranged and amplified for dramatic effect.) ...Read more
Tags: Education·quebec·Student strike
As students in Quebec continue their 14 week strike, students in Nova Scotia continue to be reminded that post-secondary education is not a priority for the Nova Scotia government. Students and faculty at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), in particular, are bracing for severe funding cuts as the provincial government continues to target the school, which has faced financial hardship for several years. Students have already been told to expect $900 in total fee hikes, including tuition fee increases and the introduction of new fees. NSCAD will also be offering fewer classes and making further program cuts. The university is recommending laying off 26 faculty and staff members. ...Read more
Tags: Education·Nova Scotia
I went to McGill in the late 80s and early 90s when tuition fees were less than $1,200 a year, so with summer jobs and some parental help I graduated from my first degree debt-free. For my MA, which I took in Ontario, I worked part-time and graduated after one year with a debt of $10,000.
By way of comparison: my partner went to university in Ontario after grants were eliminated, and when the first round of tuition fee hikes were implemented. He completed a BA and then an MA, and graduated with a debt load (and compound interest) requiring monthly payments of close to $650 for 10 years. ...Read more
Tags: Democracy·Education·quebec·Student strike·Youth
Last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) released its flagship annual publication, the Nova Scotia Alternative Budget (NSAB).
This report brings together a wide range of experts, including economists, social scientists, community representatives and social advocates who propose a more inclusive, long-term and forward-thinking approach to the province’s revenue and expenditures.
The Nova Scotia government’s ‘back-to-balance’ plan is to balance the budget via across-the-board cuts of more than $772 million by 2013-2014, and it is estimated that it could result in at least 10,000 job losses. In contrast, the NSAB 2012: Forward to Fairness, makes strategic investments, which will create jobs and finds creative ways to save money and to increase revenue. ...Read more
Tags: Child Care·Corporate Tax Cuts·Deficit·Economy & Economic Indicators·Education·Employment and Labour·Environment·First Nations Inuit and Metis·Health Care·Jobs·Nova Scotia·Poverty and Income Inequality·Taxes and Tax Cuts·Unemployment