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Archive for May, 2012

Budget Bill and the Federal Contractors Program

So many big changes are happening in Bill C-38 that some significant issues like the changes to the Federal Contractors Program (FCP) have escaped attention.  Part 4 Division 42 of C-38 is very short.  It merely says that subsection 42(2) of the Employment Equity Act is replaced by the following: “The Minister is responsible for […]

Missed Opportunity for PEI Poverty Strategy

The government of Prince Edward Island has introduced a Social Action Plan to Reduce Poverty, found online at PEI CSS. This Action Plan follows community consultations, including face-to-face meetings and written submissions by community groups. The government of PEI seems to take very seriously a Social Determinants of Health approach to poverty reduction, and so […]

Seven reasons why you should support the Quebec students’ call for low tuition fees

Despite the remarkably poor media coverage of the early days of the protests (especially in English Canada), it seems that the Quebec student protestors have finally succeeded in sparking a broader public discussion about civil liberties and the right to protest (even in the Globe here,  here and in the Celebrity Photo captions). Yet, media […]

Implications of Inequality

I, Jason Clemens from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and David Macdonald from the CCPA discussed the social and economic implications of growing income inequality on an ipolitics panel yesterday. Jason was a bit outgunned so I won’t go after him here, except to say that he took the usual neo liberal tack of shifting the debate […]

Energy McCarthyism 2: Hoback Attack

Saskatchewan conservatives are getting cranky. At last night’s Finance Committee meeting on the omnibus bill, MP Randy Hoback exposed me as being a New Democrat who writes “garbage” (as this blog’s readers already know). Full video of the meeting is available here, with my presentation starting two hours in. UPDATE (June 1): Hoback’s attack has […]

Debating Boyd on Resource Royalties

Saskatchewan’s Minister of Energy and Resources replied to my op-ed and letter on Dutch disease and resource royalties. On Friday, he was promoted to Minister of Everything. Columnist Murray Mandryk wrote, “Given the amount of power Bill Boyd now has in his super-economy portfolio, he may be one fluffy Persian cat and remote desert island […]

Poverty in Yukon

Last week I was in Whitehorse where I released a peer-reviewed policy report on poverty in Yukon. The report was part of the much larger Social Economy Research Network of Northern Canada project. Report findings include the following: -Ignoring poverty can be quite costly, as has been clearly demonstrated by research on the ‘costs of […]

The Economics of EI “Reform”

Changes to the EI rules announced by the government today are not rooted in any lengthy policy rationale. But Minister Finley and and the media release spoke to the need to “strengthen work incentives.” This conjures up images of  unemployed workers sitting around and spurning job offers amidst growing labour and skills shortages. As I […]

Key EI Data No Longer Available

As Heather Scoffield of Canadian Press reports here, Statistics Canada are no longer publishing key EI data because HRSDC have stopped providing it. Data on the dollar value of EI regular benefits are not published in the monthly Statscan release, but were available each month on CANSIM…  until March of this year. As reported on […]

Shrinking EI

Statistics Canada reported today that 2,500 fewer Canadians received Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in March. In total, only 549,400 out of 1,356,200 officially unemployed workers got benefits. The context for proposals to clamp down on EI is that only 40% of unemployed Canadians currently receive benefits. The Harper government wants to exclude even more jobless workers […]

Duel of the Saskatchewan Expatriates

Last week, I had the following letter in The Globe and Mail: Oil sands royalties The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ most recent Statistical Handbook indicates that, in 2010, this industry sold $101-billion of oil and gas but paid only $12-billion in resource royalties. Even Senator Pamela Wallin’s higher figure of $22-billion (Oil Sands’ Benefits […]

Promoting Trade and Signing Free Trade Deals are NOT the Same Thing

DFAIT’s web site currently lists 18 different trade deals currently “in play” (and that doesn’t count the Trans-Pacific Partnership, where Ottawa is so far just flirting). But Harper’s push to sign as many FTAs as possible while he has a majority will not improve Canada’s actual trade, which is deteriorating (both quantitatively and qualitatively) the […]

Krugman: End This Depression Now!

I am an enthusiastic reader of Krugman’s columns and, especially, his economic blog. And I certainly side strongly with him in the intellectual and political struggle against “the Austerians” and “Very Serious People” who are unnecessarily prolonging the Great Recession in America and in Europe. That said, Krugman’s latest book “End This Recession Now” (Norton, […]

HRSDC Funded Research Contradicts Key Argument For New EI Policy

According to today’s Globe, the government says that the major target of pending changes to EI is frequent claimants, who are disproportionately to be found in  the high unemployment regions. This focus seems to reflect the common belief that supposedly “overgenerous” EI benefits stop some people from moving from high to low unemployment regions. Interesting […]

More on “Labour Shortages”

Here are the most recent Statscan job vacancy data by province. There were six unemployed workers for every reported job vacancy in Canada in the three months ending in January, rising to about ten unemployed workers for every open job slot in Atlantic Canada. Note that there is no information on what wages employers were […]

Inflation On Target; Exchange Rate Off Target

Today, Statistics Canada reported an annual inflation rate of 2%, precisely in line with the Bank of Canada’s target. With inflation under control and renewed risks to the global economy, there is little rationale for the central bank to raise interest rates anytime soon. In fact, the Bank of Canada should now be more concerned […]

Federal jobs cuts: Clarity is always one year away

I’ve commented on federal job cuts many times before (here, here, here & here) and in the interests of beating this particular horse good and dead (no animals were harmed in the writing of these reports), the CCPA today is releasing my latest update on the matter: Clearing away the fog: Government Estimates of job […]

IRPP: No Denial of Dutch Disease

Canadian Press writes, “Mr. Mulcair’s analysis of what ails Canada’s economy is contradicted by a new independent study produced by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.” Really? What does the study conclude? As quoted by Canadian Press, “On balance, the evidence indicates that Canada suffers from a mild case of the Dutch disease, which […]

Saskatchewan Manufacturing Hits the Wall

Premier Brad Wall was Tweeting about today’s Statistics Canada report of an uptick in national manufacturing sales in March. It is an odd report for him to trumpet, given that it found a decline in Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sales that month. Another recent Statistics Canada report, Friday’s Labour Force Survey, indicates that Saskatchewan lost 400 manufacturing […]

The Stock Market and Canadian Economic Performance

Glancing idly at the numbers, I find to my slight surprise that the Canadian stock market (S&P/TSX) is now down about 25% from the May, 2008 peak, whereas the US stock market (S&P 500) is down by only about 10% from its peak in May, 2007. So, since the beginning of the crisis, owners of  […]

Memo to Ministers: The Issue is Unemployment Not Labour Shortages

The federal government is basing labour market policy on the belief that,  as Jason Kenney pithily puts it in today’s Globe, there are “large and growing labour shortages.”  Hence moves to bring in even more temporary foreign workers at lower than average wages, and to push EI claimants into supposedly available jobs. Not that the […]

Why Can’t We Afford What We Used to Have?

In this age of  austerity, we are constantly told by governments that we have to tighten our belts. Tuition fees have to go up; public pensions, Unemployment Insurance and social assistance benefits have to be cut; universal public health care is no longer affordable, and so on ad nauseam. But, as my friend Peter Puxley […]

Tightening the Screws on the Unemployed

The significant changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program which are to be quickly implemented through Budget 2012 with very little consultation have not received enough critical attention. First, a word on what is not in the Budget. It is disappointing, to say the least, that the government is failing to respond to the fact […]

Defending Green Jobs at the WTO

As a partner in Blue Green Canada, the United Steelworkers have issued the following news release: WTO Called Upon to Dismiss Japan, EU Challenge to Canadian Renewable Energy Policy Canadian NGOs and labour unions have sent an amicus curiae submission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the eve of a second hearing tomorrow into […]

Energy McCarthyism

The high-and-mighty virtiol which greeted Tom Mulcair’s comments last week about the downside of oil-powered currency appreciation is lamentable (repeating the over-the-top reaction to Dalton McGuinty’s similar comments a few weeks ago).  Mulcair made two modest and empirically substantiated statements: the loonie is sky-high as a result of the oil boom in Alberta’s bitumen sands […]

Postmedia’s Ham-Handed Assault on Mulcair

Postmedia has posted Michael Den Tandt’s latest column, which will presumably appear in print tomorrow. He presents recent comments about Dutch disease as a departure from Tom Mulcair’s previous position: . . . when Tom Mulcair was driving hard to become leader of the New Democrats, he took polite but pointed issue with his party’s […]

Jobs: Ontario Left Behind

Statistics Canada reported today that April was another good month for the labour market. The Canadian economy added 58,200 jobs, most of which were full-time and all of which were paid positions rather than reported self-employment. Paradoxically, official unemployment increased as more Canadians entered the labour market. This development provides an important reminder that unemployment […]

Going to the Wall in Defence of Mulcair

I have the following op-ed in today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix: Royalty hike cure for Dutch disease Premier Brad Wall calls federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair “very, very divisive” for expressing concern that Canada’s overvalued petro-dollar is eliminating manufacturing jobs. In reality, Wall is being divisive by exploiting this legitimate concern to fan the flames of western […]

Temporary Foreign Workers and the Labour Market

Further to recent commentary regarding the Harper government’s dramatic expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TWF) program, consider this shocking factoid: Even before the expansion of the program envisioned in the current omnibus “budget” bill, temporary foreign workers (who do not have the same rights as other Canadian workers, and whose presence here depends entirely […]

Mining in the NWT: Who Gets What?

In a recent blog post at Northern Public Affairs, Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox looks at the issue of ‘who gets what?’ when a mine is developed in the Northwest Territories (NWT). Here is an excerpt from the post: – The resource extractor: they pay royalties (the NWT has the lowest royalties in the world), and costs of […]