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Guaranteed Annual Income

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post titled “Ten things to know about Canada’s guaranteed annual income debate.”

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-There are people and groups on both the left and right of the political spectrum who favour a Guaranteed Annual Income (also known as a “basic income”).

-One reason for support on both the left and right is that there is considerable discrepancy in terms of how generous the benefit should be.  This also makes it challenging to estimate its annual cost.

-It’s not clear what the desired outcome(s) of such a scheme would be.  This too may depend on which advocates/proponents you talk to.

-The implementation of a Guaranteed Annual Income would require a considerable amount of intergovernmental cooperation.

The link to the full blog post is here.

Canada’s National Housing Strategy Consultations

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post about Canada’s National Housing Strategy consultations.  The link to the blog post is here.

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-In Canada, public social spending as a percentage of our GDP is well below the OECD average.

-The amount of housing stock in Canada considered to be “social housing” is also well below the OECD average.

-The history of Canadian housing policy suggests that, when the federal government leads new construction, provinces and territories follow with funding of their own.

The Stylized Facts of Canada-China Trade

Prime Minister Trudeau leads a big entourage to China this week, in hopes of expanding Canada’s foothold in that huge economy.  A couple of interesting media stories today set the stage for the visit: an overview of China’s evolving diplomatic and economic strategies by Andy Blatchford of Canadian Press, and a review of China’s growing emphasis on migrant labour provisions in trade deals by Jeremy Nuttall in the Tyee.

I recently compiled some data on Canada’s present highly lopsided economic relationship with China.  Here are the main features of our current, unbalanced relationship: Read more »

Federal Income Support for Low-Income Seniors

Over at the Behind the Numbers web site, Allan Moscovitch, David Macdonald and I have a blog post titled “Ten Things to Know About Federal Income Support for Low-Income Seniors in Canada.”

The blog post argues—among other things—that if the age of eligibility for Old Age Security were to move from 65 to 67, the percentage of Canadians aged 65 and 66 living in poverty would see a very substantial rise.

The post is based on a recent chapter we’ve written for How Ottawa Spends, an annual publication of Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration.  In the chapter, we estimate the rise in poverty with the help of Statistics Canada’s Social Policy Simulation Database and Model.

The link to the blog post can be found here.

Challenging Inflation Targeting

Every 5 years the federal Finance Minister updates the “marching orders” that guide the Bank of Canada and its conduct of monetary policy.  This process is the one opportunity for democratic oversight of the Bank, which otherwise is deemed to be operating “independently” of government — all the better to ensure that it has the authority to take away the punchbowl whenever the economic party gets going too energetically.

There hasn’t been a lot of public debate about the mandate renewal, which must occur by the end of the year.  The Bank itself has issued some obscure technical papers considering various fine points of its present inflation-targeting system (whereby it is instructed to keep inflation around 2 percent per year, plus or minus one point).  Most interesting is its consideration of an alternative price index to guide its actions: exploring the use of alternative measures (such as the so-called “common component CPI”) which supposedly better reflect underlying inflation tendencies than traditional indices (like CPI, which is the Bank’s current target, or the “core” CPI which it also watches to guide its month-to-month actions).  It is clear that the Bank itself strongly wants to maintain the overall edifice of the present inflation targeting system, and continues to argue that controlling inflation at a low and stable level is the best thing it can do to promote Canadian prosperity.

Inflation targeting was the dominant monetary policy doctrine through the years of the “Great Moderation”: the 1990s and early 2000s, when it seemed as if the fundamental problem of macroeconomic policy had been solved, almost like the “end of history” in Fukuyama’s infamous jargon.  (I discuss the origins of inflation targeting, its essential intellectual continuity with monetarism, and its problems in Chapter 18 of my book Economics for Everyone.)  But the self-righteous superiority of the doctrine came crashing down with the GFC, and even more fundamentally in the years since.  Output gaps are large and persistent.  Deflation, not inflation, is the bigger danger.  Yet inflation does not respond to its assumed causes (the output gap and interest rates).  It’s almost as if inflation targeting has been so effective at “anchoring” expectations, that nothing (even sustained high unemployment) knocks it off those moorings.  Many central bankers are actively exploring alternative policy tools — quantitative easing, negative rates, and even “helicopter money” — to try to stimulate badly-needed growth.  But the Bank of Canada has been relatively conservative, sticking to its traditional playbook.  On the other hand, it is also clear that the Bank’s actions (and in particular, its last rate cuts) cannot be explained according to a narrow reading of its inflation-targeting mandate.  Since the days of Mark Carney it has claimed to be following that mandate in a “flexible” manner, but it is increasingly apparent that the integrity of the whole inflation-targeting model is crumbling.

Some economists (such as Pierre Fortin in his presentation at the 2016 CEA meetings) have called for raising the inflation target, and others have offered more fundamental critiques.  Posted below is my recent Globe and Mail column on the topic.  I wish that progressive economists in Canada had been more on the ball, and prepared to challenge the Bank’s mandate more forcefully in the run-up to the current renewal negotiations.  But there is still time to raise some big, timely questions about the still-dominant belief that the central bank’s one and only mission should be to control the price level.

New Thinking Needed on Monetary Policy (originally published in the Globe and Mail, August 8 2016)

The federal Liberal government has successfully engineered a major about-face in public attitudes toward fiscal policy.  Rejecting the previous preoccupation with balanced budgets, the Trudeau government convinced most Canadians that deficits can make sense – whenever economic conditions require more spending power, not less.

The government now has a similar opportunity to rework conventional wisdom in the other major area of macroeconomic management: monetary policy.  The Bank of Canada’s five-year inflation target mandate expires at the end of this year, and the Bank is currently discussing its future marching orders with Finance Minister Bill Morneau.  A joint announcement on the Bank’s next mandate will be made in coming months.

Since 1993 the Bank has pursued an inflation target of 2 percent (measured by consumer prices), with an allowable cushion of 1 percent either way.  By the specific criteria of meeting that goal, the Bank has a generally good track record: inflation has stayed within its target band three-quarters of the time.  However, a creeping anti-inflation bias is apparent: since 1993, inflation has been twice as likely to fall below the band than above it.  And this one-sidedness has become more apparent since the Bank’s mandate was last renewed in 2011.  Since then the band was missed entirely in 11 months (always from below), and inflation averaged just 1.39 percent, well below the target.
In a world in which deflation is now a bigger risk than inflation, this persistent weakness in consumer prices (which reflects chronic weakness in overall demand and spending power) is worrisome.  And the bigger problem has been the absence of visible economic payoff from the inflation targeting regime.  The Bank doesn’t target inflation for its own sake; it does so because low and stable inflation is supposedly the “best contribution monetary policy can make” to economic progress.  They argue targeting facilitates greater certainty, more investment, and higher productivity.

In fact, however, the exact opposite has entailed.  GDP growth per capita has slowed considerably during 25 years of inflation targeting: averaging 1.4 percent per year, a third less than in the quarter-century before targeting.  Under the Bank’s current mandate, it’s been worse: 0.6 percent and falling.  Business investment has never been weaker.  It seems that stability in inflation means little to companies who worry about whether they can sell their products.

Most worrisome for targeting advocates is the absence of a predictable relationship between inflation broader economic conditions (measured by unemployment or GDP growth).  Targeting has certainly “anchored” inflation expectations around 2 percent.  In fact, even when the economy is clearly underperforming, inflation tends to stick there. By a strict reading of targeting rules (whereby the Bank focuses on inflation, and only inflation), that would eliminate the Bank’s ability to counter economic downswings.  Luckily, the Bank of Canada (since Mark Carney) has been interpreting its mandate more flexibly – cutting interest rates even when inflation alone wouldn’t seem to justify it.  But it is increasingly obvious that inflation targeting has become a polite fiction: it isn’t working the way it is supposed to, and central bank actions are actually motivated by other goals.  Yet the major players remain so invested in the supposed “credibility” of the whole system, that none will acknowledge the emperor’s lack of garb.

The Bank is considering certain minor tweaks to its system, including a possible alternative measure of consumer prices.  But it strongly favours a renewal of the basic target.  Mr. Morneau should demand a bigger rethink.  There are several options for change.

The target could be increased, with inflation allowed to rise to 4 or 5 percent.  Many international and Canadian economists (including Pierre Fortin, former President of the Canadian Economics Association) have advocated this change.  It would help avoid the problems that occur when interest rates are cut to zero; modestly higher inflation is also good for lubricating economic adjustment and eroding the burden of debts.

Alternatively the Bank could be given explicit instructions to pursue other goals (namely, reducing unemployment and spurring growth) in addition to controlling inflation.  After all, the Bank of Canada Act still discusses the Bank’s responsibility to .  More radically, inflation targeting could be abandoned altogether.  That’s not likely, but the option should be considered.

Until recently, inflation targeting was trumpeted as a Holy Grail that solved all the major problems in macroeconomics.  The chaotic state of the global economy confirms this promise was hollow.  We only get to consider the options every five years; this is the time for the government to put everything on the table.

Central Agencies in Canada

Do you ever lie awake wondering what it is that Finance Canada, the Privy Council Office and Treasury Board Secretariat actually do?  Well, wonder no more my friends!  Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post titled “Ten things to know about central agencies in Canada.”

Here’s the link to the post.

 

First Annual Canadian Homelessness Data Sharing Initiative

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post about the First Annual Canadian Homelessness Data Sharing Initiative.  The link to the blog post is here.

Another review of Economics for Everyone, 2nd ed.

Here’s another review of Jim Stanford’s Economics for Everyone, 2nd edition, this one by guest contributor and MMT aficionado Larry Kazdan.

Review of Jim Stanford’s /Economics for Everyone

by Larry Kazdan

Jim Stanford has written a superb book which deserves pages of admiration and praise – a truly impressive body of work that introduces to the public an alternative vision of progressive
economics. Yet his overview is not without its tragic policy flaw; a flaw which likely renders many of his objectives unachievable.

On page 352, we read this remarkable statement, “If money can be created out of thin air by the government’s own bank, to buy financial securities, why can’t it be created out of thin air to
do other things – like putting people back to work in real jobs? The answer is, ‘It can be.'” Yet this groundbreaking insight, which appears in this second edition in a new chapter on the recent financial crisis, is not integrated into the rest of the book. In fact, it is either ignored or downplayed in the
book’s other chapters.

For example, examine the diagram on page 325 which encapsulates the “complete system”, a “composite portrait of the real-world economy in all its complexity”. The government’s central bank
does not merit sufficient importance to appear. The government simply taxes and spends. This view is reinforced on page 279 in the discussion of fiscal policy with the explanation that
government collects taxes in order to fund its programs. There is also an acknowledgment that government can borrow, and (on page 288) can even borrow “from the government’s own central
bank”. But this option is lumped in with a general discussion of public debt with a stark warning that a too large debt accumulation can have “negative economic and financial consequences”.

When it comes to actual recommendations (page 381), Stanford’s fiscal policy advice is to “Run moderate annual deficits (including paying for public capital projects) and “Aim for long-run stability in public-debt ratio (as share of GDP) over the business cycle.” At a time when the private financial system
must be reined in, when the economy is struggling through lack of demand, when infrastructure is aging and must be renewed, when massive new public investments must be made to combat
climate change, when inequality and poverty must be addressed and over 1.3 million Canadians seeking jobs should be given the opportunity to work, what is the justification for restricting government spending to moderate deficits and an arbitrary debt-to-GDP ratio? These are actually conservative fiscal
policy settings which will prevent a proactive government from tapping the power of its central bank to drive the radical transformation that this book attempts to promote.

The justification given (on page 289) is that, “If debt grows too quickly, or becomes too large, investor confidence in government bonds, or even the country’s currency, can become rattled. This produces financial and economic instability (including higher interest rates and exchange rate instability
and – in severe cases – an outflow of financial capital from the country.”

First, if the Bank of Canada by creating money can purchase all the bonds that the government can issue, then what leverage do investors have if they “lose confidence”? They can buy the bonds or not; it doesn’t matter. The private sector is happy to purchase bonds which are risk-free financial assets. Bonds are
merely asset swaps with the private sector in return for low-interest bank reserves which were previously created through prior government spending. They do not provide the government with any additional capacity to spend (except by self-imposed limitations). (Footnote 1)

Second, the belief that higher public spending will lead to higher interest rates is refuted by the evidence. Government deficits flood the banks with excess reserves. If the government does not mop up these reserves by offering bonds in exchange, interest rates will drop. As an example, the country with the
highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world – Japan – has no trouble issuing bonds at low interest rates, nor does it suffer from inflation. (Footnote 2)

Third, exchange rates can certainly be affected but this fear is exaggerated. Canadian exchange rates are affected by a variety of factors (such as commodity prices), and Canada has seen its dollar float from a range of 63 cents to $1.10 without disastrous consequences. A floating exchange rate is the price
paid for the fiscal flexibility that allows government to robustly manage the national economy and achieve full employment.

Fourth, though not even mentioned, is the risk of inflation. Any kind of spending, private or public, has this potential so the real question is whether the type of spending is within the resource capacity of the economy. Government must target its spending in such a way as to prevent bottlenecks or supply
shortages in critical areas. (Footnote 3) A Job Guarantee program utilizing workers which the private sector does not require is an excellent use of government fiscal capacity, and a better means of anchoring prices than deflating the economy to restrain wages through unemployment. (Footnote 4)

Finally, the debt-to-GDP ratio was an important measure when countries were on the gold standard, could run out of bullion, and consequently could fail to pay their debts. But the world has been off the gold standard for more than 40 years. Countries with floating, non-convertible currencies can always service their debts provided they are denominated in their own currencies. Japan with the highest debt-to- GDP level has already been mentioned. One could raise the issue of Greece, but as Stanford notes (on page 290), Greece surrendered its monetary sovereignty by becoming part of the Eurozone and became subject to the power of bond vigilantes demanding higher interest rates. As a sovereign currency issuer, Canada is not subject to this pressure, and our debt-to-GDP ratio is an irrelevant focus of attention. (Footnote 5)

Stanford’s observation about the central bank quoted above in the first paragraph is a recognition that our government with its fiat currency is not revenue constrained. It can purchase whatever resources are left unused by the private sector. The only practical limit on this spending is the capacity of the
economy to respond without inflation. But we are far from inflation, and have many unused resources including 1.3 million people looking for work who could be mobilized to do useful things.

Timidity and subservience to private capital are not qualities we desire in a progressive government. Let us hope that in the third edition of this excellent book, there is a recognition that by aggressive use of its central bank, our federal government need not kowtow to money markets and can be bold and
effective in promoting the public purpose.

Larry Kazdan has undergraduate degrees in history and sociology, is a retired Chartered Professional Accountant and runs the website Modern Monetary Theory in Canada:
<http://mmtincanada.jimdo.com/> . He takes seriously Jim Stanford’s
suggestion that economics is too important to be left to economists.

Footnotes:

1. Bond sales
William Mitchell is a Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.  /http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=30105/

At any time of its choosing, the government could cease to issue public debt and continue deficit spending at will.   It might have to change some regulations and statutes  which have been put in place to give the impression that  the debt issuance is funding its net spending, but that  would be merely legislative activity.

Remember the government just borrows back what it spent in  deficit in a previous period. Bond sales draw on private  saving which is just a reflection of past deficits.”

2. Japan
William Mitchell is a Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity(CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia /http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=31021/

When QE was first introduced in Japan in the 1990s, mainstream economists rushed to predict that the massive expansion in central bank reserves would be inflationary.

Students in every mainstream macroeconomics class, and that means almost all students, would have predicted, based on the nonsense they were learning, that the high deficits and high public debt ratios in Japan at the time, should have driven interest rates sky high, that bond markets should
have stopped buying government bonds, that the government should have run out of money, and all the time that these disasters were unfolding, that inflation should have been be galloping towards hyperinflation.

Nothing like that happened.

Neo-liberal economists wrote off their mistakes by claiming that Japan is ‘so strange’ that it is a ‘special case’ and therefore not generally applicable.

Their ad hoc defense was convenient because the Japanese experience with sustained high fiscal deficits, the world’s largest public debt to GDP ratio, close to zero interest rates, and deflation, was totally at odds with their economic theories.

It was a mind-boggling failure to explain reality.
*3. Inflation
*L. Randall Wray, Ph.D. is Professor of Economics at the
University of Missouri-Kansas City
http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2015/11/mmt-and-bernie-sanders.html#comment-1232342//

“The danger of spending too much money is inflation; there might also be an impact on exchange rates. The solution to the first problem is to avoid spending more once full employment is reached; and to carefully target spending even before full employment to avoid bottlenecks. The solution to the second is to float the currency.”
*4. What is a Job Guarantee?
<http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=23719>
*William Mitchell is a Professor in Economics and Director of
the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the
University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia*
* /http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=23719/

” …..the Job Guarantee is actually a macroeconomic policy framework designed to ensure full employment and price stability is maintained over the private sector business cycle.

The Job Guarantee jobs would ‘hire off the bottom’, in the sense that minimum wages are not in competition with the market-sector wage structure.

By not competing with the private market, the Job Guarantee would avoid the inflationary tendencies of
old-fashioned Keynesianism, which attempted to maintain full capacity utilisation by ‘hiring off the top’ (i.e. making purchases at market prices and competing for resources with all other demand elements).

Job Guarantee workers would enjoy stable incomes, and their increased spending would boost confidence throughout the economy and underpin a private-spending recovery.”

*5. Public Debt Ratio
*William Mitchell is a Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia*
* /http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=30105/

The public debt level relative to GDP is not a matter of economic concern ever if the government in question issues its own currency and only issues debt in that currency.

Under those circumstances the government can*always* service its nominal liabilities and the public debt ratio is an irrelevant focus of attention.
/http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=31487/

Forget the deficit. Forget the fiscal balance. Focus on what matters – employment, equity, environmental sustainability. And as we would soon see – the fiscal balance will just be
whatever it is – a relatively uninteresting and irrelevant
statistical artifact.

Is Slow “Growth” Inevitable?

Most of the world economy (including Canada’s) has performed sluggishly since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09.  And many economic and fiscal projections now accept this pattern of slow growth as more-or-less inevitable, as a “new normal.” This argument is typically invoked to justify a ratcheting down of expectations regarding job prospects, incomes, and public services.

In my view it’s important for progressives to dig beneath the observed reality of prolonged stagnation, identify its causes (which I attribute largely to sustained weakness in the dynamism of private business investment), and then identify progressive, relevant responses — instead of assuming that stagnation is inevitable or even (in the eyes of some) beneficial.  Read more »

How not to fund infrastructure

Recycling is supposed to be a good thing, so when the federal Liberals quietly announced that “asset recycling” would be part of their strategy for meeting their much-ballyhooed infrastructure promises, not many eyebrows were raised. They should have been. Asset recycling is an obscure code word for selling our public goods for private profit. It’s privatization by another name.

Don’t have the taxes to pay for new buses? It’s okay, you can sell your electricity utility to pay for them instead. In fact, this is precisely what the Ontario Liberal government is doing. Already 30% of the profitable Hydro One have been sold and another 30% will be sold before 2018. A public Hydro One could more directly fight climate change, lower energy costs for the poor or work with First Nations on whose lands generation often happens. A private Hydro becomes an instrument for profit first with other goals secondary.

What the Liberals have started in Ontario will soon be rolled out across Canada. Here are the problems with these schemes.

Read more »

How to Solve a Problem like Internal Trade Barriers?

In 1995, Canadian First Ministers signed an Agreement on Internal Trade. From the website, “Its purpose is to reduce and eliminate, to the extent possible, barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services, and investment within Canada and to establish an open, efficient, and stable domestic market.”

Well, it turns out that agreement, although regularly updated and renegotiated, is no longer enough. The previous Conservative government had really, really, really wanted to update AIT to be more in line with their approach to trade in international agreements such as TPP and CETA. The pretty conservative Senate wants it badly too. And it seems the current government is happy to oblige.

The updated agreement on internal trade, which had been moving along nicely, has hit a snag. Negotiators had wanted to open up all government procurement (meaning, not allowing any preferential treatment for local contractors). Alberta has asked to be allowed to require 20% local employment in government procurement.

The other proposed feature of an updated AIT that is particularly troublesome is a switch to a negative list. (A negative list starts from the assumption that all services should be delivered privately, without restriction, and a positive list starts from the assumption that most services should be publicly provided and/or regulated. The language used in these deals is super technical and inaccessible for a reason – it’s harder to organize opposition around something that’s so abstract.)

The current AIT and all of Canada’s international trade deals operate on a positive list. Only the CETA has been negotiated on a purely negative list (I’ve been told that some elements of TPP are negative list and some are still positive list because of references to WTO rules).

Proponents are trying to argue that a negative list is ‘modern’ – but it’s just privatization and deregulation through the back door. As I told Blacklock’s Reporter, implementing a negative list to solve Canada’s internal trade barriers makes about as much sense as using a chain saw to trim your fingernails.

It seems like a good time to post my comments on behalf of the Canadian Labour Congress to the Senate committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce.

********************************

Mr. Chair, the labour movement is keenly aware that trade is, and has always been, an important feature of the Canadian economy. We understand the interest that all governments have in fostering healthy trade between jurisdictions, inside and outside of Canada.

Unfortunately, trade agreements can unduly restrict governments’ right to regulate, give huge advantages to larger businesses, and rarely have effective protections for workers or the environment.

As such, they do not always increase trade, improve economies, or benefit Canadians.

So our question is: what problem is an updated Agreement on Internal Trade meant to solve, and is it possible that there are better policy tools available to solve those problems?

Since 1995, many of the impediments to internal trade have been addressed. Most empirical studies have found that the cost of remaining internal trade barriers are quite small, and the benefits of expanding AIT have been grossly exaggerated.

Most often, one hears about the movement of alcohol, or the movement of trained workers.

On the labour front, considerable gains have been made in recent years, for example with the Red Seal program that sets a high standard that is accepted in all provinces. We’re confident that provinces are moving in the right direction on labour mobility, and on harmonizing training as well as certifications.

Do we need to re-open an existing agreement to improve the interprovincial movement of alcohol? It seems that provinces could work together on specific issues, such as that, when they arise.

As Scott Sinclair recently told this committee, it would be a useful exercise to list and estimate the cost of specific trade barriers between provinces. Provincial governments could then cooperate to remove any costly barriers that do not serve any useful purpose, rather than sign onto a far-reaching agreement that may have serious unintended consequences.

One of the other reasons that we’re talking about changing the Agreement on Internal Trade is to make it compliant with international trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and the CETA. The labour movement has serious concerns about those agreements, as they contain elements that are harmful to workers, the environment, and local economies.

Particularly, we want to preserve local governments’ ability to deliver high quality public services, and to use procurement policies to promote local economic development and environmental stewardship.

We know that public purchasing policies can have broad benefits, such as reducing waste and energy consumption, developing economic capacity among underserved populations, and supporting smaller suppliers and suppliers who have sustainable and ethical business practices. Expanding the AIT will make it more difficult for provincial and local governments to accomplish this.

In terms of protecting public services, the drive to switch to a negative list in the AIT is very worrisome, particularly in light of investor dispute settlement mechanisms.

A negative list means that any service governments wish to be kept out of a trade deal, such as health care or education, must be specifically named. If new services emerge, or if public consensus grows for new programs such as pharmacare, these services are automatically subject to the trade agreement. This is privatization by default. A positive list would give all governments, and their residents, the chance to decide if they want to protect new areas of public service delivery.

Even for those services that have been protected, standstill and ratchet clauses effectively lock the current level of privatization into place, and only allow increased privatization. If a hospital has outsourced meal, laundry, and cleaning services – but finds that they are getting sub-standard service for higher prices – decision makers subject themselves to an ISDS complaint & potential fine if they want to bring those services back in house – even if that is the best decision economically.

As it stands, the AIT prohibits adopting or maintaining even non-discriminatory measures that “restrict or prevent the movement of persons, goods, services, or investment across provincial boundaries.” This seriously ties the hands of elected officials at all levels of government, in an unnecessary way.

We have followed the policy prescriptions from the OECD and IMF from the 80’s and 90’s in terms of privatization of public services, trade liberalization and lowering corporate taxes, and not seen much economic benefit as a result. We would suggest to you that it is time to try something new, not rehash old policies.

Minimum wages as economic stimulus?

Update: The Alberta government has announced their timeline for getting to $15 / hour, which includes eliminating the lower minimum wage for liquor servers.

The Alberta Federation of Labour has an excellent minimum wage campaign, called “15 is fair”. I provided some research support for a paper they produced on the positive economic impact of increasing minimum wages, which you can read in full here, but I wanted to share some of the key points.

Increasing the minimum wage doesn’t kill jobs

In recent years, several provinces including Alberta have modestly increased minimum wages. Not only has the number of workers in low-wage sectors grown, but economists say that higher minimum wages can be good for reducing poverty, increasing job stability, and providing stimulus to the economy.

Since 2011, Alberta has made five upward adjustments to minimum wage – and at no point did that make a dent in employment growth in low-wage industries such as retail trade or accommodation and food services. In fact, even after the oil shock that devastated Alberta, these two low-wage sectors remain stronger than the overall Alberta labour market.

AB Job growth

 

Increasing the minimum wage does lower inequality

Fortin and Lemieux (2015) show that these increases in the minimum wage actually reduced income inequality in Canada, and that the trend for the bottom 10 per cent of income earners is closely linked to changes in the minimum wage.

This is important for two reasons. First, opponents have argued that increasing the minimum wage is misguided because not all minimum wage earners are working poor. But minimum wage earners are more likely to be working poor than higher wage earners. Secondly, there is now clear evidence that minimum wages reduce inequality – which is an advisable goal separate and apart from poverty reduction.

Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago studied the potential impact of minimum wage increases in the United States. They found that increases in the minimum wage lead to significant increases in household spending, which has a stimulative effect on the economy.

This makes sense, if we consider the fact that many low-wage workers currently can’t make ends meet. Low-wage workers are more likely to have un-met basic needs, and so spend extra income right away. Economists call this “a higher marginal propensity to consume.” The good news is that with more income, workers can better meet their basic needs, and local businesses benefit from having customers with more money to spend.

With that in mind, we can attempt to gauge the impact of an increase in the minimum wage, assuming workers spend every extra after-tax dollar in their pocket.

Table 1: Impact of a $1 Minimum Wage increase in Alberta
Wage < $11.20 Wage $11.21-12.20
Number of workers 70,100 88,500
Usual hours of work per week 25.3 25.4
Estimated impact on household spending
Average wage increase $1.23
Weekly increase after CPP, EI, and Federal income tax $3.9 million
Annual increase in household spending $201 million

Source: Labour Force Survey microdata, April 2016 and author’s calculations

Higher wages create more stable & productive jobs

We often talk about how to increase the number of ‘good jobs’ in our economy. Good jobs are ones where workers feel respected, where the job is stable, and where employers invest in workers.

Too often minimum wage jobs are not good jobs. But Canadian research shows that increasing the minimum wage reduces turnover, creating more stable jobs for workers.

The theory is that higher wages force employers to abandon low-wage, high turnover strategies, and instead encourages them to invest in their current workforce. Low-wage, high turnover strategies are actually costly, as it takes time and resources to find and train new employees. Lower turnover means more stable jobs for workers, and a more productive workforce for employers.

UBC economist David Green suggests that increasing the minimum wage is one of the few mechanisms that encourages employers to abandon an inefficient low-wage, high turnover strategy. This is the more important long term impact of increasing wages.

Brexit and Neoliberalism

In the end, what was meant to be a referendum about the economic benefits of remaining in the European Union, was about everything but. There will be countless analyses of the results and of the reasons that motivated the British people to vote to leave the European Union. But in the end, I fear that very few of these analyses will even come close to addressing the true underlying forces at work. Read more »

Summer reading! Review of Stanford’s second edition of Economics for Everyone

Looking for something to take with you to the cottage, the beach or the cafe?  Check out  Jim Stanford’s 2nd edition of Economics for Everyone.  Here’s a review by Peter G. Prontzos first published in the Vancouver Sun.

Book review: A fresh look at the dismal science of economics

Economics for Everyone:A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism (2nd Ed.)

By Jim Stanford

Pluto Press

The global economy is still recovering from the “Great Financial Crash” (GFC) of 2008. Understanding the causes of the meltdown is not a simple task, and devising a more stable, prosperous, and egalitarian alternative is even more difficult. That’s why it is fortunate that Jim Stanford has re-written his groundbreaking study, Economics for Everyone.

Stanford explains how the economic collapse was the direct result of “financial products and practices that were unethical, unstable, and unsustainable”, and which were unregulated by governments. Indeed, in many cases, it was the earlier deregulation of Wall Street — which attended the rise of neo-liberal capitalism — that allowed the financial sector to make such risky moves in the first place.

The author makes the links between the GFC and the imposition of “austerity” demands by governments, whose real agenda is, “to claw back public pensions, reduce income security … drive down wages … and privatize more public assets.” (Greece is perhaps the best-known victim of these counter-productive and inhumane policies).

This market failure, along with the growing gap between the one per cent and everybody else, exemplifies one of the most important points in this discussion: that economic decisions are not necessarily based on an objective “science.” Instead, they are also political choices that societies make.

For instance, it is generally agreed that unemployment could be lowered significantly if the Bank of Canada and the government were not so determined to keep the rate of inflation to around two per cent, which is what giant corporations usually prefer.

On the other hand, many — perhaps most — Canadians would prefer economic policies which would create more jobs (as well as giving a higher return on investment such as RRSPs), even if another result was a slightly higher rate of inflation.

Stanford explains that one of the benefits of high levels of unemployment for corporations is that working people are more likely to tolerate lower wages and more stressful working conditions if they know that there are very few decent jobs available.That’s what Stanford means when he argues that there are indeed alternatives, depending on who is calling the shots. “The economy embodies conflicting interests between different groups,” he notes. Stanford himself, who holds a PhD in economics, is employed by the Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 305,000 members across the country. (He is also a regular panelist on CBC TV’s, The National).

The main goal of his book is to provide exactly what the title implies: a way to understand how the economy works because we are so profoundly affected by it. Fortunately, he explains, “you don’t have to be an economist to know a lot about economics.” Which is not to say that it is an easy read. It takes both time and thought to work your way through its 400 pages. It is, however, clearly written and includes many informative charts, pictures, and figures to explain its ideas and show how the various economic elements interact with each other.

A rather unique feature is the invitation to take part in an interactive dialogue with the author. The reader is invited to weigh in on a number of topics, and some contributions are posted on his website. (Check it out: www.economicsforeveryone.com).

As impressive as this book is, there are a few aspects which could be improved. For example, Stanford rightly explains that Adam Smith celebrated the “deregulation of markets … and policies to protect the profits and property rights of early capitalists.”

It would be helpful to mention that Smith also distrusted capitalists, felt that this economic system is unjust, and was appalled by the way workers were treated. In fact, Smith wrote that most people who have to sell their labour in order to make a living would be psychologically damaged “unless the government takes pains to prevent it” by mandating decent pay and working conditions.

Stanford and Smith (and Marx!) also agree on what is known as the “labour theory of value: “Productive human activity is the only force that adds value to the wealth we were given by nature.”

It follows, then, that those who work the hardest and produce the most value — sweatshop workers, perhaps, and farmers, and child care providers, for instance — should reap the largest rewards.

In contrast, Stanford writes that: “The financial industry is not, in itself, productive,” and he provides a number of examples to support his case.

He ends by urging “workers and poor people … to organize” and fight for a fair distribution of the wealth that they have created.

This book does a commendable job of explaining the workings of our economy, so if you don’t have the time or inclination to take economics courses, you can learn a lot from this volume.

On the other hand, if you are studying mainstream economic theory, this book may be especially valuable, as it provides an alternative perspective to the hegemonic values of orthodox neo-liberalism.

Peter G. Prontzos teaches Political Science at Langara College.

 

 

The TPP is a Bad Idea, part 27

On June 16th the House Committee on International Trade held its 27th meeting about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, Scott Sinclair, and Gus Van Harten were all in Ottawa to tell parliamentarians just how bad the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be for Canada.

We outlined the limitations on governments right to regulate in the public interest, the expensiveness and unpredictability of Investor-State dispute mechanisms, and the ways in which the deal will tie the government’s hands in trying to implement their mandate for economic growth, a green transition, managing health care costs, and indigenous rights.

There was limited time to make our case though, as presentations are limited to 5 minutes, and answers to questions were even shorter. I left the meeting feeling as if I wanted to clarify a few points:

  1. Being pro-trade is not the same as being pro-trade deals. Similarly, being against trade deals doesn’t mean you’re against trade. We’ve long past the point where trade deals have much to do with lowering tariffs. Instead, trade and investment deals have become a convenient back-door for multi-national corporations to lobby for legislative and regulatory changes that they could never get through a democratic process. One example is the extension of copyright duration to life + 70 years, which has some pretty significant benefits for Disney & Hollywood in general, but that the librarians (and others) have significant concerns about. Another example is opening up access to unlimited numbers of temporary work visas, with no right to require needs tests or to set limits, and no mechanism to enforce wages and working conditions for these vulnerable workers. It’s this bypassing of democratic institutions that is most worrying.
  2. Even the most rosy macro-economic analysis of the TPP shows limited benefits for economic growth. And these analyses were undertaken with unrealistic assumptions. They assume that the trade balance stays constant (when actually we’ve seen an increasing trade deficit after signing our trade deal with South Korea, for example), and they assume that employment stays constant. If you use a model that allows these outcomes to vary, like the Tuft’s University study did, you find smaller economic benefits overall, and that workers in all TPP nations lose out. Pointing out that there is the potential for limited micro-level benefits (say, for beef producers) does nothing to change the big picture analysis that Canadians and workers overall would lose out from the TPP.
  3. In general, the process for negotiating trade deals is secretive and not accessible to most Canadians. Scott Sinclair is a veteran of Canadian trade negotiations, and he says that the TPP was the most secretive ever. When you consider that large pharma, energy, and tobacco corporations and lobbyists *are* often included, and civil society organizations are not – it’s not only secret, it’s plain undemocratic.
  4. It is time to come back to more reasonable form of investor protection. A Canadian company has never won an ISDS case against the United States, but we have been successful under WTO processes. Investor protections which should be:
    • subsidiary to national judicial processes,
    • should privilege state-to-state settlements, and
    • should emphasize investors’ responsibilities just as much as the protection of their assets.

If you want more detail, here is a link to Scott Sinclair’s testimony, Gus Van Harten’s new paper on ISDS, and Hassan Yussuff’s statement to the committee.

To learn even more and add your voice to stop the TPP, visit stoptpp.ca

Who earns minimum wage?

UPDATE: All numbers exclude self-employed workers. The Labour Force Survey doesn’t provide wage data for self-employed workers, and self-employed workers aren’t subject to minimum wage laws. “Proportion of workers” is more accurately “Proportion of employees”. The number of employees per province can be found in CANSIM Table 282-0012.

Minimum wages have been getting a lot of attention lately. And for good reason. Workers earning minimum wage often struggle to get enough hours, don’t have predictable schedules or advance notice of shifts, and many don’t even have access to unpaid sick days.

Alberta’s current government was elected on a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2018, and the Nova Scotia NDP recently tabled a bill that would have the minimum wage increase each January, eventually reaching $15 in 2019.

How many people even earn minimum wage? Well if you take everyone earning less than the primary minimum wage, there were 1,253,000 workers earning minimum wage or less in 2015 (many provinces have exceptions or lower wages for students or alcohol servers).

Minimum wage (2015) Number (000’s) Proportion of workers
BC $10.45 98.2 5.2%
AB $11.20 100.1 5.2%
SK $10.50 22.2 4.7%
MB $11.00 50.4 9.1%
ON $11.25 675.5 11.6%
QC $10.55 232.6 6.6%
NB $10.30 18.5 6.0%
NS $10.60 30.9 7.9%
PEI $10.50 4.7 7.5%
NFLD $10.50 18.0 8.4%

Source: Labour Force Survey microdata 2015, Government of Canada Minimum wage database

But if we’re talking about increasing the minimum wage, workers who earn just above that get a raise too. So how many workers benefit directly from a $15 minimum wage? Well, in 2015 about 25% of all workers in Canada made $15 / hr or less. That’s more than 4 million workers. This varies significantly by province, from 18% of all employees in Alberta, to 38% of all employees in PEI.

Number (000’s) Proportion of workers
BC 482.5 25.5%
AB 350.5 18.2%
SK 106.6 22.7%
MB 162.8 29.6%
ON 1,670.1 28.6%
QC 971.4 27.5%
NB 111.5 36.0%
NS 130.6 33.5%
PEI 23.9 38.4%
NFLD 69.6 32.6%

Source: Labour Force Survey microdata, 2015

We also often hear that low wage workers are young workers, living with their parents, and raising the minimum wage will only hurt them – making it harder for young workers to break into the labour market. David Green, a professor at UBC, reviewed the existing literature on minimum wages and found that “Estimated [employment] effects for young adult and adult workers range from insignificant to non-existent.” He also found the Canadian evidence shows that increasing the minimum wage reduces turnover – so raising the minimum wage actually creates more stable jobs for workers too.

And while lots of young workers are employed in low wage jobs, many adults are as well. Besides, young workers deserve a fair wage for their labour too.

Finally, women are disproportionately represented in these low wage jobs – fully one-third of women earn less than $15 / hr, compared to only 22% of men.

Employees earning less than $15 (000’s) Low wage employees as % of all employees
Men Women Men Women
15-24 776.5 892.0 65% 74%
25-54 681.1 1,112.9 13% 22%
55+ 243.1 373.9 18% 29%
Total 1,700.7 2,378.8 22% 32%

Source: Labour Force Survey microdata, 2015

It’s also important to note that many in the Fight for $15 movement have made associated improvements in employment standards part of their campaign. In Ontario, the 15 and fairness campaign addresses issues such as sick days, predictable scheduling, and contract flipping.

Fight for $15 is a concrete way to push back against growing inequality and precarious work – join the fight for decent work in your province!

Winner of the 2016 Galbraith Prize

The Progressive Economics Forum is pleased to announce Marjorie Griffith Cohen as the winner of the 2016 Galbraith Prize in Economics. Our selection committee included past winner Lars Osberg, Joan McFarland (St. Thomas University), Angella MacEwen (CLC), Fletcher Baragar (Manitoba)  and David Pringle (PEF), and was chaired by Marc Lee (CCPA-BC). Marjorie has accepted the Prize and will deliver the Galbraith Lecture at the Canadian Economics Association meetings in Ottawa on Saturday, June 4. Thanks to our judges and to the Galbraith family.

Below is the nomination of Prof. Griffith Cohen by Iglika Ivanova, Brenda Spotton-Visano, Armine Yalnizyan, Duncan Cameron and Jim Stanford, which does a great job to summarize her extensive career.

****************

It is our honour to nominate Marjorie Griffin Cohen for the PEF’s Galbraith Prize in Economics for her contributions to political economy in Canada. Marjorie Cohen is a professor of Political Science and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. She is a scholar in the feminist tradition, who writes on public policy and economics with special emphasis on issues concerning the Canadian economy, Canadian public policy, women, labour, international trade agreements and deregulation of the electricity sector. She is well known and highly regarded for her work on women’s work and income security, and more recently the implications of climate change for labour in Canada.

Professor Cohen is an activist with a strong commitment to social justice. She was a director of NewGrade Energy (Sask) and has served on several boards and commissions in British Columbia including the B.C. Industrial Inquiry Commission on the Fisheries; Board of Directors of B.C. Hydro; Board of Directors of B.C. Power Exchange.  She was also instrumental in establishing the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in B.C., was its first Chair, and is on its Board of Directors.

She is a scholar and an activist whose work perfectly exemplifies the PEF’s goal of supporting thorough-going, progressive democratic structural change in the policies and institutions that currently govern the economy (including macroeconomic policy; labour market institutions and regulations; policies affecting both paid and unpaid work;  the regulation of international economic relationships; and environmental protection and regulation), and a desire to participate in the strengthening and promotion of these alternative policies.

She is currently involved in two research projects related to global warming and gender and a project on the gender and economic crises. Her large scale research project in Economic Security (funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council) brought together 22 community-based researchers, 22 researchers from universities in B.C. and many students in the study of the impact of government policies on vulnerable populations. Its most significant work is to try to establish new public policy that would meet the economic security needs of this population.

In addition to several scholarly articles and policy papers, she has authored and edited several books on women’s work and globalization.

  1. Free Trade and the Future of Women’s Work: Manufacturing and Service Industries (University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division, 2013)
  2. Public Policy for Women (University of Toronto Press, 2009)
  3. Remapping Gender in the New Global Order (London & New York: Routledge 2007),
  4. Training the Excluded for Work: Access and Equity for Women, Immigrants, First Nations, Youth, and People with Low Income (UBC Press 2003)
  5. Governing Under Stress: Middle Powers and the Challenge of Globalization (Fernwood Press, 2004), with Stephen Clarkson
  6. Global Turbulence: Social Activists’ and State Responses to Globalization (Ashgate 2003), with Stephen McBride
  7. Canadian Women’s Issues: Volume II: Bold Visions (James Lorimer & Company, 1995) with Ruth Roach Pierson
  8. Women’s Work, Markets, and Economic Development in Nineteenth-century Ontario (University of Toronto Press, 1988)

House price inflation and what to do about it

I have a new report out today on affordable housing in Metro Vancouver. While it’s mostly of regional interest, I think the analysis and framework for housing solutions could have a much wider audience. The report looks at what’s driving the spectacular rise in housing prices in Vancouver, summarizing what we know from a wide range of sources. It looks at the how rising prices have widened the growing gap between rich and poor. And it outlines five themes for a solutions agenda.

Here’s the oped length summary of key measures, including restricting absentee ownership, major new public investments in affordable housing stock, and a more progressive property tax system.

A Solutions Agenda for Vancouver’s Housing Market

Marc Lee

Metro Vancouver’s housing market is broken. While most of the attention has been on the soaring price of housing, there is also a crisis in the rental market, and the complete absence of any secure housing for the most needy. Together, these factors have fuelled a widening gap between rich and poor.

To address this crisis we must stop treating housing primarily as an investment rather than a place to live. Vancouver’s housing should be owned by the people of Vancouver, not absentee owners or corporations.

First, we need to take external capital out of the game. The ability of outside wealth whether Chinese, Russian, American or Albertan to come into the housing market is largely unquestioned. But when Vancouverites have to compete for housing with the world’s super-rich, locals cannot win.

In London’s even crazier real estate market, the UK government has acted to curb foreign money inflows by making its property transfer tax steeply progressive (topping out at 12% above $3 million), and adding a 3% transfer tax on purchases of second homes and rental properties.

BC’s property transfer tax could easily be amended along these lines to keep outside money at bay, and to address other ills of the real estate market like speculation. Over the longer term, though, we need to have a conversation about outright restrictions on absentee ownership.

In addition to cooling demand, we need to build public housing supply, lots of it. The development industry maximizes its profits when it can sell exclusive, luxury units to the top bidder. We need to revive the role of public enterprises to build the housing that local people need, not what investors want.

The tools for such public investment are already in place, from CMHC to BC Housing to regional/municipal housing agencies, not to mention potential partnerships with a wide array of non-profit housing providers.

We can start with an ambitious expansion of the rental housing stock, ideally with cooperative and social housing models. We need about 5,000 new units per year just to keep pace with demand. And more if want to address the housing backlog, from thousands of homeless people up to the estimated 145,000 households considered in “core housing need” (meaning they spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing).

In addition to rental, a building program should also explore innovative affordable ownership models, like community land trusts, where constraints on resale price serve to lock in affordability over the long term. Whistler also provides an excellent BC example of developing affordable ownership for local workers.

The challenge is how to fund the upfront costs of building new housing, typically about $250,000 per unit (800 square feet, mid-rise apartment). That means an annual investment of between $1.25 and $2.5 billion per year to build 5,000 to 10,000 units per year, less where land is contributed or development charges waived. That said, most of that upfront cost would get repaid over the lifetime of the building through rent.

To finance such as build out, and to make the tax system more fair, we should reform how we tax property. For example, a progressive property surtax kicking in at $1 million of assessed value would only affect the top one-third of homeowners, but would raise $1-2 billion per year.

Similarly, the windfall capital gains from housing price escalation should be subject to tax, just like income from working is or (to a lesser extent) income from selling stocks. A lifetime capital gains exemption of $500,000 could be included, with only gains above this amount taxed.

The surge in real estate prices has further increased the gap between rich and poor, with homeowners essentially winning the lottery. A portion of those winnings should be taxed to build the affordable housing we need.

It’s clear that we need a more rational management of housing in the interests of the people who live and work in the city. We have plenty of examples of success from our own history to actions taken in other jurisdictions. The real challenge is political will, and overcoming the powerful collection of vested interests in the housing market.

PEF Summer School 2016

If you are in Ottawa or close by, and are interested in the ideas and debates that are shaping today’s economy, then we have a summer school for you.

PEF Summer School 2016: Expanding Economic Thinking

Venue: Room 1007, Faculty of Social Science Building (FSS), 120 University, University of Ottawa, Parking Map
Date: Thursday June 2, 2016
Times: 8:00am-5:15pm

Learn in a day what you may have missed from a year of regular classes about the cutting edge economic issues that everyone is talking about.

PEF 2016 Summer School posterThe Progressive Economics Forum (PEF) invites you to submit an application for our one-day Summer School, which will take place the day before the Canadian Economics Association annual conference at the University of Ottawa, June 3-5. The summer school aims to help nurture a new generation of economists and researchers who will explore practical and theoretical problems from an unconventional perspective. As a participant, you will have the opportunity to expand your views with stimulating discussion about:

  • Heterodox Economic Theory: alternative views on economic growth
  • Is Economics Changing? lessons from the financial crisis
  • Ecological Economics: informing debates about a sustainable future
  • Basic Income Guarantee: a policy idea whose time has come?

Meet established and aspiring progressive economists. Speakers include:

If you are an economics student (undergraduate or graduate), a student interested in economic questions or a practicing economist in academia, the labour movement or with an NGO, this summer school is for you.

Registration is $20, covering lunch, refreshments and one drink at the evening social. Out-of-town participants are responsible for their own travel costs; however, limited travel scholarships for one-night accommodation may be available for select participants.

Apply at http://ow.ly/4ntbsf Questionspefsummerschool@gmail.com

Preliminary Program

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Registration

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. Introduction to the day’s events

8:45 – 10:15 a.m. Introduction to Heterodox Economics: More to Growth than f (A, L, K)
Mario Seccareccia, University of Ottawa

With secular stagnation and rising inequality being hot topics in the public conversation, there is a renewed interest in economic growth and distribution. But does the conventional approach to understanding growth restrain us from exploring the complexities of how growth and distribution are related? This introductory lecture shows that there is more than one way to bake a pie and cut it too.

10:15 – 10:35 a.m. Break

10:35 – 12:05 p.m.  Basic Income Guarantee: A Policy Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Panel discussion featuring: Herb Emery (University of Calgary); Diane Bellemare (Senate of Canada); David Macdonald (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)

Fundamentally, poverty is about lack of income and poverty impacts everything from hospitalization rates to food security. Perhaps sending low income families a basic income could be the answer. Then again, maybe that approach is a false promise. This panel will debate the issues.

12:05 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Lunch

1:15 – 2:45 p.m. Ecological Economics for Sustainable Well-Being
Eric Miller (York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies)

Ecological economics integrates considerations of efficiency, equity, and biophysical scale in ways that identify paths to achieving a sustainable future. This session introduces approaches and techniques developed in this field to help illuminate and resolve pressing environment-economy tensions.

2:45 – 3:05 p.m. Break

3:05 – 4:45 p.m. Is Economics Changing? Lessons from the Financial Crisis.
Panel discussion featuring: Brenda Spotton-Visano (York); Louis-Philippe Rochon (Laurentian); Mathieu Dufour (Universite du Quebec en Outaouais)

Many observers said the 2008 financial crisis exposed the weaknesses of the dominant economic orthodoxy, further pressing the need for a new economic thinking. But eight years after the crisis, has the teaching and practice of economics really changed? This panel will weigh in on this question.

4:45 – 5:15 p.m. Group Evaluation, Feedback of Day’s Events

5:30 – 8 p.m.  Social at the Royal Oak (161 Laurier Ave E)

Ten things to know about the 2016-17 Alberta budget

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I have a blog post titled: “Ten things to know about the 2016-17 Alberta budget.”

The link to the post is here.

2016 PEF Student Essay Contest: Deadline Extended

The 2016 Student Essay Contest deadline has been extended to Monday, May 9.

Please use this submission form. You can download a poster (English, French) here  please help us out and circulate the word to students.

======================

2016 PEF ESSAY CONTEST RULES

Deadline: 9 May, 2016

All entrants receive a complimentary 1-year membership in the Progressive Economics Forum.

ELIGIBLE ENTRANTS
– Open to all Canadian students, studying in Canada and abroad, as well as international students presently studying in Canada. All entrants receive a complimentary 1-year membership in the Progressive Economics Forum.
– The definition of student encompasses full time as well as part time students.
– Students eligible for the 2016 competition must have been/be enrolled in a post-secondary educational institution at some point during the period of May 2015 – May 2016.

LEVELS OF COMPETITION
There are two levels of competition
– One for undergraduates
– One for graduates*
*Note: Those who have previously completed an undergraduate degree or graduate degree, and are returning to do a second undergraduate degree will only be considered for the graduate student competition. The same holds for student who spend part of the academic year in a graduate program.

CONTENT OF THE ESSAY
– Entries may be on any subject related to political economy, economic theory or an economic policy issue, which best reflects a critical approach to the functioning, efficiency, social and environmental consequences of unconstrained markets.

ELIGIBLE SUBMISSIONS
Eligible entries will be:
– sent by email at the latest on May 02, 2016, to:
essaycontest@progressive-economics.ca
– the only submission by the author(s) (i.e., one submission per person)
– between 20-40 pages in length, and typed in 12-point font, double spaced
– referenced to academic standards (including any data)
– written in either English or French
– original, single-authored essays that do not infringe upon the rights of any third parties
– accepted on re-submission once
– accompanied by a signed scanned file of the completed PEF Essay Contest Submission Form.

Entrants consent to having the Progressive Economics Forum publish essays from winners and those receiving honourable mention. Each applicant will submit a valid email and postal address for correspondence.

ADJUDICATION
A panel of judges selected and approved by the Progressive Economisc Forum will judge entries.
Entries will be judged according to the following criteria: substance and originality, writing style, composition, and organization.
The Progressive Economics Forum reserves the right not to award a prize or any prizes where submissions do not meet contest standards or criteria.

WINNING SUBMISSIONS
The winning essays will be announced at the Annual General Meeting of the PEF.
A cash prize of $1,000 will be awarded the winner of the graduate competition; and $500 will be awarded to the winner of the undergraduate competition.
The winning essays will be published on the PEF website.
Judges’ decisions are final.

*******

2016 Concours de textes étudiants

Date limit : le 9 mai 2016

Ouvert à tous les étudiants canadiens

Qui peut participer ?
-Ouvert  à   tous les étudiants canadiens, qui étudient au Canada ou  à   l’étranger, ainsi qu’aux étudiants étrangers étudiant au Canada. Tous les participants deviennent gratuitement membres du Progressive Economics Forum pour un an.
-Le terme « étudiant» couvre les étudiants  à  temps plein et les étudiants à temps partiel.
-Pour être éligible à l’édition 2016 du concours, un étudiant doit avoir été ou être inscrit dans une institution post-secondaire à un moment donné pendant la période allant de mai 2015 à mai 2016.

Niveaux de compétition 

Il y a deux niveaux de compétition :
-Un pour les étudiants prégradués
-Un pour les étudiants gradués*
*NB: Ceux qui ont déjà  complété un programme prégradué ou un programme gradué et qui retournent faire un deuxi à ¨me programme prégradué ne peuvent participer qu concours qu’au niveau gradué. C’est la même chose pour tout étudiant ayant passé une partie de l’année dans un programme gradué.

Contenu du texte
-Les textes peuvent porter sur tout sujet relié  à l’économie politique, la théorie économique ou une problématique en lien avec des politiques économiques, qui reflète une approche critique sur le fonctionnement, l’efficience, et les conséquences sociales et environnementales des marchés libéralisés.

Pour être accepté, un texte doit :
– être envoyé par courriel, au plus tard le 2 mai 2016, à  l’adresse suivante: essaycontest@progressive-economics.ca
– être le seul texte envoyé par le(s) auteur(s) (un texte par personne).
– avoir entre 20 et 40 pages, tapé dans une police de taille 12 points,  à interligne double.
– avoir des références écrites selon les standards académiques (incluant les données)
– être écrit en anglais ou en français
– être un texte original, avec un seul auteur, qui n’enfreint pas les droits d’auteurs d’une tierce partie.

– n’avoir été soumis au maximum qu’une fois auparavant (donc un texte peut être soumis un maximum de deux fois)
– être accompagné par une fiche d’inscription pour le concours de textes du PEF complétée, signée et numérisée.

Les participants acceptent que le Progressive Economics Forum publie les textes des gagnants et de tout autre participant recevant une mention d’honneur.

Tout participant devra soumettre une adresse courriel qui fonctionne, ainsi qu’une adresse postale pour fins de correspondance.

Jugement
-Un panel de juges choisis et approuvés par le Progressive Economics Forum va juger les textes soumis.
-Les textes seront évalués selon les critères suivants: substance, originalité, style, l’organisation et la cohérence de l’ensemble.
-Le Progressive Economics Forum se réserve le droit de ne pas décerner un prix, ou quelque prix que ce soit, si aucun texte ne remplit les critères ou n’atteint les standards.

Textes gagnants

-Les gagnants seront annoncés  à  l’assemblée générale annuelle du PEF.

-Un prix de $1,000 sera attribué au gagnant du concours pour les étudiants gradués et $500 sera attribué au gagnant du concours pour les étudiants prégradués.
-Les textes gagnants seront publiés sur le site internet du PEF.
-Les décisions des juges sont sans appel.

 

Equal Pay Day

Every year, women around the world celebrate (angrily) the day their average full-time full-year earnings have caught up to men’s average full-time full-year earnings from the year before.

This year in the United States that day fell on April 12th. In Germany it was March 19th. In Switzerland it was February 24th.

In Ontario? Equal Pay Day** comes on April 19th.

This will be the third year that the Ontario provincial government officially recognizes Equal Pay Day, but this year there is cause to be hopeful that change is in the works. Not only has the Ontario provincial government been examining this issue, but the federal government has convened a special committee on pay equity.

To help us better understand gender pay gap dynamics in Ontario, Dr. Kendra Coulter at Brock University conducted a survey of retail workers, an already low wage and feminized sector. Sheetal Rawal, a lawyer and pay equity expert, contributed analysis and context, and I helped out with some numbers. Our whole report can be found on Dr. Coulter’s website, revolutionizingretail.org.

What we found will sound familiar to many who have worked on pay equity issues over the years. Managers are more likely to be men, lower wage occupations within retail are more likely to be women. Men are more likely to be employed full time, whether they are managers or cashiers. Even within retail locations, managers have gendered ideas about skills, expecting women to be better with customers or to be good at cleaning tasks, and expecting men to do more physical labour.

Equal Pay Day is calculated based on the difference in full-time earnings between men and women, but it turns out it is not just about wage equity, but also about “hours equity”.

The women who responded to Dr. Coulter’s survey wanted more hours, but were consistently frustrated with growing precarious work trends in their workplaces. They told us that unpredictable scheduling is the norm rather than the exception, and it is common for employers to hire more casual workers instead of giving current workers more hours. This persistent hours deficit combined with unpredictability takes a toll on workers, especially if they have unpaid work responsibilities as well.

As our report notes, “Workers are often expected to have full-time availability without any of the benefits (financial and otherwise) that come with being employed fulltime.”

Our report makes several recommendations about how the Employment Standards Act can address the gender gap in hours, including:

  • advance notice for work schedules,
  • minimum hours guarantees,
  • requiring that part-time, contract, and temporary workers be paid the same wage as full-time workers doing the same tasks, and
  • paid sick leave.

Provincial consultations on the gender pay gap ended on February 29th, 2016, and a report is expected from the steering committee in May 2016. Then we’ll need to mobilize to make sure the evidence gathered results in concrete changes for women in Ontario, and across Canada. Otherwise, we’ll be waiting another 228 years for the wage gap to close on its own.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

**Your own personal Equal Pay Day may vary significantly, based on a variety of factors. The Labour Force Survey gives us some insight into the pay gap for new Canadians and Aboriginal workers living off reserve.  The CCPA in Ontario have calculated that women who are landed immigrants earn $21,000 less per year than non-immigrant men (39% pay gap), and Aboriginal women earn $31,000 less per year than non-Aboriginal men (57% pay gap). We desperately need better data on the pay gap for racialized workers and workers living with disabilities.

“Signing Trade Deals” is NOT Synonymous with “Promoting Trade”

The fine folks at the Institute for Research on Public Policy have undertaken an important and eclectic review of Canadian trade policy. They have marshaled 30 contributions from researchers addressing all aspects of Canada’s recent trade performance, and how we can improve it. The contributions will eventually be published in a single volume, Redesigning Canadian Trade Policies for New Global Realities, edited by Stephen Tapp, Ari Van Assche and Robert Wolfe (part of the IRPP’s “The Art of the State” series). But in the meantime individual chapters are being electronically released on their own. One recent and especially informative contribution was Koen De Backer and Sebastien Mirodout’s review of global supply chains and how Canada is being sidestepped (on both the supply and the demand sides) by that important change in trade patterns.

The IRPP invited me to contribute to the project, and I chose to develop an empirical examination of Canada’s disappointing international trade performance since the turn of the century — highlighting the seeming contradiction between those lousy results, and the government’s simultaneous ambitious effort to sign as many free trade and investment agreements as possible. If these deals are the key to trade success, why is it that the more of them we implement, the worse our trade becomes? Perhaps the deals are doing more harm than good.  And perhaps there are other factors holding back our exports, rather than “lack of free access to foreign markets.”

Here is the link to my full chapter on the IRPP site. And below I post a summary of my findings (which I also presented this week, via videoconference from Sydney, to the Senate Standing Committee on International Trade). Read more »

Using Data to End Homelessness in Calgary

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post titled “Using Data to End Homelessness in Calgary.”

The link to the English version is here; the link to the French version here.

Corporate rights masquerading as trade (again)

Anti-democratic investor rights deals are in the news again, thanks partly to a Communications Workers of America & Trade Justice Network event that brought Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz to Canada. Professor Stiglitz pronounced the Trans-Pacific Partnership the “worst trade deal ever”, adding that provisions allowing multi-nationals to sue governments are particularly toxic.

Professor Gus van Harten pointed out that enacting the CETA and the TPP would dramatically increase the number of corporations that are allowed to sue Canadian governments. Canada is already the most sued nation under various investor state dispute settlement mechanisms. Under NAFTA, Canada has settled 4 investor claims for a cost of $150 million, lost 3 cases for a cost of about $48 million, and 7 cases are still ongoing as of 2015.  The problem with corporations suing governments is not only the cost, but the regulatory chill.

And Pia Eberhardt told us that the changes to CETA’s investor state dispute settlement mechanism didn’t fix the basic problems, calling it the zombie ISDS. She said that Canada’s experience with NAFTA was a big part of the reason Europeans were so mobilized against including similar mechanisms in their own deals.

The Broadbent Summit also hosted a panel on “The Free Trade Charade”, where Michael Geist, Ianik Marcil, Pia Eberhardt, and I explained why there was very little benefit to joining the TPP, but lots of risks.

The other reason that trade deals are in the news is because the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade wants to hear your views on the TPP. You are encouraged to send them a 1,500 word brief on how the TPP will impact you and your community at ciit-tpp-ptp@parl.gc.ca no later than April 30, 2016.

P.S. If you missed the Making Sense of the TPP event held at the University of Ottawa on April 1, the video is is available at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/what%E2%80%99s-big-deal-understanding-trans-pacific-partnership.

It includes the keynote address by Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

The morning panel included:

  • Gus Van Harten, Associate Professor – Osgoode Hall Law School – Who has benefited financially from special privileges in the TPP for foreign investors in ISDS?
  • Meghan Sali, Digital Rights Specialist, Open Media – IP, copyright and Canada’s digital future
  • Scott Sinclair, Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Trade and Investment Project – Democratic deficit: the TPP’s questionable legitimacy

The afternoon panel included:

  • Professor Ron Labonte, Canada Research Chair Globalization and Health Equity and Ashley Schram The TPP and health. Few gains, some losses and many risks
  • Jeronim Capaldo, Research Fellow Global Development and the Environment, Tufts University “Unemployment, Inequality and other Risks in the TPP”
  • Steven Shrybman, Goldblatt Partners “Does the TPP really advance labour rights?”
  • Pia Eberhardt, Researcher and Campaigner, Corporate Europe Observatory “Why are Europeans concerned about TPP’s little brother, the CETA?”

This event was hosted by the Trade Justice Network, CWA/SCA Canada, and the University of Ottawa’s School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and The School of International Development Studies.

Comparing Fiscal Federalism in Canada and Australia

One interesting topic for a Canadian living in Australia is the manner in which fiscal and social responsibilities are divided between the levels of government.  Both countries are big, regionally diverse, and resource-rich (with all the pluses and minuses that entails).  As in Canada, Australian states are largely responsible for the big-ticket social programs: including health care, hospitals, and education.  The federal (or Commonwealth) level retains some direct social funding responsibilities, however.  For example, the Commonwealth government provides direct operating grants for schools (including, unfortunately, to the private schools that serve about one-third of Australian primary and secondary students).  The federal government also pays directly for Australia’s progressive pharmaceutical benefits scheme (which provides low-cost prescription drugs).

The revenue side of the equation, however, is much more centralized than in Canada.   Read more »

Mixed bag for EI in Budget 2016

The 2016 Budget announces some much needed improvements to Employment Insurance, and leaves room for more changes in the near future. The changes announced in the budget are largely positive, but many details are still missing, and some stinkers from Harper are left unchanged.

The Good …

Significantly, the government will reduce the 910 hours threshold for new entrants/re-entrants as of July 2016. All workers within a region will have the same entrance requirements between 420 hours and 700 hours, depending on the local unemployment rate. This change will be implemented 6 months earlier than promised in their election platform, and will be a meaningful change for young workers, recent graduates, and new Canadians. (Grade: A+)

Another significant announcement is $106 million over two years for front line staff. In their election platform, the Liberals had committed to reducing EI wait times, but had not allocated any funding for that purpose. This budget provides a one year increase of $19 million to help Service Canada meet increased demand for processing. It also provides $73 million over two years for increased staffing at EI Call Centres, and $14 million over two years to promote compliance with program rules. Mostly good, but in my experience, face-to-face discussions with well-trained staff near the beginning of claims are the best way to promote compliance with program rules. (Grade: A-)

The budget will extend the duration of EI regular benefits by 5 weeks, up to a maximum of 50 weeks of benefits, for claimants whose primary residence is in one of the 12 EI regions with the sharpest increase in unemployment. The extension will be available for a year starting in July 2016, and will apply retroactively to all eligible claimants as of January 4, 2015. The government will also offer an additional 20 weeks of EI regular benefits to long-tenured workers who reside in those same 12 EI regions, up to a max of 70 weeks of benefits.  This too will be available for a year, and applied retroactively.

While this benefit extension will be significant for many workers, many others will fall through the cracks. Those who worked in affected regions but returned home to look for work will not qualify, and younger workers are unlikely to qualify for the 20 week extension offered to long tenured workers. Long -tenured workers must have paid into the EI program for the past seven out of ten years, and over the past five years must have received 35 weeks or less of EI benefits. About 20 – 25% of EI recipients fall into the long-tenured category. (Grade: B)

In a positive step, the maximum duration of work-sharing agreements will be extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. I encourage the government to work with employer and worker groups to increase awareness of this program, as it can be very effective but take up is low. (Grade: A+)

The government will extend the current version of the working while on claim pilot until August 2018. This pilot allows workers to keep 50% of their earnings from employment, up to a maximum of 90% of their weekly insurable earnings. All workers will also have the option to fall under an earlier pilot. Under the alternate working while on claim pilot, workers may keep all of the first $75 earned and have earnings above that amount deducted dollar for dollar from their EI benefits. This alternative pilot may work better for low wage workers with opportunities for part-time work. (Grade: A-)

As promised in their election platform, the two-week waiting period for EI benefits will be reduced to one week, starting January 1, 2017. This change does not add to total benefits, it simply starts the claim period one week earlier. I think this money could be better spent elsewhere in EI, but it was an election platform promise. (Grade: A)

The Mixed Bag …

Budget 2016 promises to reverse job search requirements by claimant category introduced by the Conservative government in 2012, but maintains the three claimant categories: frequent claimants, occasional claimants, and long tenured workers. Since one of the requirements to be “long tenured” is seven years of EI contributions, this automatically excludes younger workers.  (Grade: D)

Other elements of Harper’s cuts to EI are not addressed in this budget, such as changes to the appeals process or changes to the number of EI regions in PEI, Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories. This is certainly not what workers expected when we called on the federal government to undo the Conservative EI changes that were punitive to workers. (Grade: D)

Despite some expansion of benefits, this budget predicts a $1.7B accumulated surplus in the EI Account by December 2016. If you’re looking for stimulus, money in workers’ pockets is the most effective route, and there was enough money in the EI Account to make that happen. It’s disappointing that opportunity was wasted. (Grade: D)

The budget also forecasts a seven year break even rate at 1.61 per $100 of insurable earnings. This premium level does not take into consideration the promised expansion of benefits for compassionate care leave, or parental leave. Since the new premium rate is set to take effect on January 1st, 2017, it’s hard to know what that means. Will they figure out the details of the new programs before then, and then announce a new rate? Will they let the EI Account go further into deficit in 2017 and then raise rates later on if required? Unknown.

The takeaway? So much better than Harper, but still lots of work to do. And I expect that Atlantic Canadian MPs are going to be hearing an earful over Easter.

February Labour Force Woes

The unemployment rate is up again this month, to 7.3%, with 1.4 million workers looking for jobs in February. A loss of full-time work was partly replaced by part time positions. A disproportionate percentage of last year’s growth came from precarious self-employment.

Remember those heady days when we could say that at least Canada’s unemployment rate was lower than the U.S.? Yeah. Adjusted to U.S. concepts the Canadian unemployment rate is 6.2%, compared to their 4.9%.

Well, all is not lost. The Alternative Federal Budget was released yesterday, and it included some pretty key investments to create jobs, boost economic growth, lower income inequality, and lift people out of poverty.

While there are many great suggestions in the AFB (fully costed, with a distribution impact assessment), the job numbers today show that improvements to Employment Insurance are particularly urgent. And with EI, skills training and supports to help workers adjusting to shifts in the economy.

Saskatchewan, my home province, lost 7,800 jobs in February, and 6,000 more workers left the labour market. Alberta has lost more than 50,000 full time jobs over the past year. Having lost high wage jobs in the natural resource industry, many are wondering what comes next.

This is why the labour movement talks about a just transition. Individual workers shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of economic restructuring on their own. A strong social safety net, skills training programs, and thoughtful social and physical infrastructure investment can cushion the blow for workers now, and speed the transition to a more prosperous future.

Go read the AFB, it’s time to move on.

2016 PEF Student Essay Contest is Open!

Please use this submission form. You can download a poster (English, French) here — please help us out and post one in your department.

2016 PEF ESSAY CONTEST RULES

All entrants receive a complimentary 1-year membership in the Progressive Economics Forum.

ELIGIBLE ENTRANTS
– Open to all Canadian students, studying in Canada and abroad, as well as international students presently studying in Canada. All entrants receive a complimentary 1-year membership in the Progressive Economics Forum.
– The definition of student encompasses full time as well as part time students.
– Students eligible for the 2016 competition must have been/be enrolled in a post-secondary educational institution at some point during the period of May 2015 – May 2016.

LEVELS OF COMPETITION
There are two levels of competition
– One for undergraduates
– One for graduates*
*Note: Those who have previously completed an undergraduate degree or graduate degree, and are returning to do a second undergraduate degree will only be considered for the graduate student competition. The same holds for student who spend part of the academic year in a graduate program.

CONTENT OF THE ESSAY
– Entries may be on any subject related to political economy, economic theory or an economic policy issue, which best reflects a critical approach to the functioning, efficiency, social and environmental consequences of unconstrained markets.

ELIGIBLE SUBMISSIONS
Eligible entries will be:
– sent by email at the latest on May 02, 2016, to:
essaycontest@progressive-economics.ca
– the only submission by the author(s) (i.e., one submission per person)
– between 20-40 pages in length, and typed in 12-point font, double spaced
– referenced to academic standards (including any data)
– written in either English or French
– original, single-authored essays that do not infringe upon the rights of any third parties
– accepted on re-submission once
– accompanied by a signed scanned file of the completed PEF Essay Contest Submission Form.

Entrants consent to having the Progressive Economics Forum publish essays from winners and those receiving honourable mention. Each applicant will submit a valid email and postal address for correspondence.

ADJUDICATION
A panel of judges selected and approved by the Progressive Economisc Forum will judge entries.
Entries will be judged according to the following criteria: substance and originality, writing style, composition, and organization.
The Progressive Economics Forum reserves the right not to award a prize or any prizes where submissions do not meet contest standards or criteria.

WINNING SUBMISSIONS
The winning essays will be announced at the Annual General Meeting of the PEF.
A cash prize of $1,000 will be awarded the winner of the graduate competition; and $500 will be awarded to the winner of the undergraduate competition.
The winning essays will be published on the PEF website.
Judges’ decisions are final.

*******

2016 Concours de textes étudiants

Date limit : le 9 mai 2016

Ouvert à tous les étudiants canadiens

Qui peut participer ?
-Ouvert  à   tous les étudiants canadiens, qui étudient au Canada ou  à   l’étranger, ainsi qu’aux étudiants étrangers étudiant au Canada. Tous les participants deviennent gratuitement membres du Progressive Economics Forum pour un an.
-Le terme « étudiant» couvre les étudiants  à  temps plein et les étudiants à temps partiel.
-Pour être éligible à l’édition 2016 du concours, un étudiant doit avoir été ou être inscrit dans une institution post-secondaire à un moment donné pendant la période allant de mai 2015 à mai 2016.

Niveaux de compétition 

Il y a deux niveaux de compétition :
-Un pour les étudiants prégradués
-Un pour les étudiants gradués*
*NB: Ceux qui ont déjà  complété un programme prégradué ou un programme gradué et qui retournent faire un deuxi à ¨me programme prégradué ne peuvent participer qu concours qu’au niveau gradué. C’est la même chose pour tout étudiant ayant passé une partie de l’année dans un programme gradué.

Contenu du texte
-Les textes peuvent porter sur tout sujet relié  à l’économie politique, la théorie économique ou une problématique en lien avec des politiques économiques, qui reflète une approche critique sur le fonctionnement, l’efficience, et les conséquences sociales et environnementales des marchés libéralisés.

Pour être accepté, un texte doit :
– être envoyé par courriel, au plus tard le 2 mai 2016, à  l’adresse suivante: essaycontest@progressive-economics.ca
– être le seul texte envoyé par le(s) auteur(s) (un texte par personne).
– avoir entre 20 et 40 pages, tapé dans une police de taille 12 points,  à interligne double.
– avoir des références écrites selon les standards académiques (incluant les données)
– être écrit en anglais ou en français
– être un texte original, avec un seul auteur, qui n’enfreint pas les droits d’auteurs d’une tierce partie.

– n’avoir été soumis au maximum qu’une fois auparavant (donc un texte peut être soumis un maximum de deux fois)
– être accompagné par une fiche d’inscription pour le concours de textes du PEF complétée, signée et numérisée.

Les participants acceptent que le Progressive Economics Forum publie les textes des gagnants et de tout autre participant recevant une mention d’honneur.

Tout participant devra soumettre une adresse courriel qui fonctionne, ainsi qu’une adresse postale pour fins de correspondance.

Jugement
-Un panel de juges choisis et approuvés par le Progressive Economics Forum va juger les textes soumis.
-Les textes seront évalués selon les critères suivants: substance, originalité, style, l’organisation et la cohérence de l’ensemble.
-Le Progressive Economics Forum se réserve le droit de ne pas décerner un prix, ou quelque prix que ce soit, si aucun texte ne remplit les critères ou n’atteint les standards.

Textes gagnants

-Les gagnants seront annoncés  à  l’assemblée générale annuelle du PEF.

-Un prix de $1,000 sera attribué au gagnant du concours pour les étudiants gradués et $500 sera attribué au gagnant du concours pour les étudiants prégradués.
-Les textes gagnants seront publiés sur le site internet du PEF.
-Les décisions des juges sont sans appel.

 

Working in the Homeless-Serving Sector

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve reviewed an excellent new book written by Professor Jeannette Waegemakers Schiff.  The book is written for people who do ‘front line’ work with homeless persons.

The link to the English version of my review is here, while the link to the French version of my review is here.