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  • CCPA's National Office has moved! May 11, 2018
      The week of May 1st, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' National Office moved to 141 Laurier Ave W, Suite 1000, Ottawa ON, K1P 5J2. Please note that our phone, fax and general e-mail will remain the same: Telephone: 613-563-1341 | Fax: 613-233-1458 | Email: ccpa@policyalternatives.ca  
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • What are Canada’s energy options in a carbon-constrained world? May 1, 2018
    Canada faces some very difficult choices in maintaining energy security while meeting emissions reduction targets.  A new study by veteran earth scientist David Hughes—published through the Corporate Mapping Project, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute—is a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s energy systems in light of the need to maintain energy security and […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The 2018 Living Wage for Metro Vancouver April 25, 2018
    The cost of raising a family in British Columbia increased slightly from 2017 to 2018. A $20.91 hourly wage is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver, up from $20.61 per hour in 2017 due to soaring housing costs. This is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Mobility pricing must be fair and equitable for all April 12, 2018
    As Metro Vancouver’s population has grown, so have its traffic congestion problems. Whether it’s a long wait to cross a bridge or get on a bus, everyone can relate to the additional time and stress caused by a transportation system under strain. Mobility pricing is seen as a solution to Metro Vancouver’s transportation challenges with […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Budget 2018: The Most Disappointing Budget Ever March 14, 2018
    Premier Pallister’s Trump-esque statement that budget 2018 was going to be the “best budget ever” has fallen a bit flat. Instead of a bold plan to deal with climate change, poverty and our crumbling infrastructure, we are presented with two alarmist scenarios to justify further tax cuts and a lack of decisive action: the recent […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Financial Crisis and Interprovincial Trade

In Saturday’s Globe, Gordon Campbell ridiculously presented eliminating inter-provincial barriers as a response to the global financial crisis. Although Marc beat me to the punch in replying, I have a few further thoughts.

Several months ago, TILMA boosters said that removing alleged barriers to labour mobility was particularly pressing given a “tight” labour market. Today, the same people say that removing barriers is particularly pressing given an economic downturn and rising unemployment. These contradictory arguments confirm that TILMA is a solution in search of a problem.

The notion of eliminating inter-provincial barriers as a response to the financial crisis reminds me of a point that J. K. Galbraith made in The Affluent Society: the economic losses caused by microeconomic inefficiencies are very small compared to those caused by macroeconomic problems. Even wildly excessive estimates of supposed inter-provincial barriers suggest that these cost 0.25% of GDP. Even the most conservative estimates of how much the financial crisis is reducing annual GDP relative to normal growth are at least ten times larger. Stimulating the overall economy is far more important than ironing out tiny inefficiencies.

The renewed attack on supposed inter-provincial barriers is especially bizarre because, this past summer, Quebec dismantled its famous restriction on coloured margarine and all Premiers agreed to mutual recognition of occupational credentials as well as financial penalties for AIT disputes.  It’s hard to imagine what “barriers” could remain. The Throne Speech’s tough talk on inter-provincial trade may well just position the federal government to claim credit for what provincial governments were already doing.

I think that there is an opportunity to counterattack on this front. Provincial opposition parties should expose governments that publicly rejected TILMA but are now introducing some of that deal’s worst features through the back door.

For example, during the 2007 provincial election, Dalton McGuinty wrote, “We will not sign an agreement that would lower or would allow for the lowering of environmental, labour, health and safety standards for Ontario workers.” But by agreeing to “mutual recognition of occupational credentials between all provinces and territories,” he is indeed committing to lower Ontario’s standards to permit the minimum standard maintained by any other province or territory.

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