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The Progressive Economics Forum

More Evidence that Temporary Foreign Worker Program Takes Jobs Away from Canadians

Yet another report, this time by SFU Public Policy Professor Dominique M. Gross, finds evidence that Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program is bad for domestic workers. The report looks at BC and Alberta specifically and concludes that the expansion of the TFW program between 2007 and 2010 resulted in an increase in unemployment levels by […]

2014 PEF Summer School in Heterodox Economics

The Progressive Economics Forum (PEF) will host a Summer School in Heterodox Economics in Vancouver on May 29, 2014, prior to Canadian Economics Association annual conference in Vancouver from May 30 to June 1, 2014. The Summer School is aimed at undergraduate and graduate students of economics or related fields, and working economists in academia, […]

What UBC and SMU’s rape chant scandals say about women in the Canadian economy

The news of UBC Sauder Business School students chanting about rape of underage girls during a FROSH week event has generated much outrage. As it should. While the chant might seem like an isolated incident, it is not. The recent rape chant scandals in UBC and in St Mary’s University in Halifax are evidence of […]

Why does BC have the highest poverty rate in Canada?

Statistics Canada recently released new data on the incomes of Canadians and it shows two worrisome trends continuing through the economic recovery: BC has the highest poverty rate in Canada and the highest child poverty rate (tied with Manitoba); and Ordinary families haven’t had a raise since 2008 – family incomes in the middle continue […]

Is new coal export infrastrucutre in the best interest of BC and Canada

Today’s CBC Edition Business Panel focused on the proposal by Fraser Surrey Docks to build a new coal terminal on the Fraser river to export US thermal coal (if you missed it, here’s the recording starting at 1:50). This may seem like a local issue for the West Coast, but the arguments stand for most […]

Child poverty rampant in Canadian cities

The story of child poverty in Canada is very much an urban story. One out of every 10 children living in urban areas was poor in 2010, compared to one in 20 children living in non-urban areas. Three quarters (or 76%) of all poor children in Canada lived in one of the urban centres shown […]

Are average Canadians paying too much in taxes?

On April 23, the Fraser Institute released the annual update of their misleading Consumer Tax Index report. The piece is meant to feed the anti-tax sentiment with numbers sprinkled liberally for their shock value instead of providing any meaningful analysis. Here are some of the main flaws with the report’s methodology. If what follows sounds […]

Fairness by design: a framework for tax reform in Canada

A new CCPA (National) report by Marc Lee and myself argues that Canada’s tax system needs a “fairness” overhaul and presents a framework for progressive tax reform. Those of you who have been following our tax work so far will find this study a great complement to the BC Tax Options Paper. Tax policy is […]

Globe and Mail on higher education in Canada

The Globe and Mail has just launched an in-depth feature on higher education in Canada, an installment of their Our Time to Lead series. For a couple of weeks, you can expect to see increased coverage of the issues facing our post-secondary education system in print but especially online. The editors deserve credit for seeking […]

Time to Rethink The Way We Fund Higher Education

This September, like every year, a new group of high school graduates headed to college or university to pursue higher education. But today’s generation of students is in for a very different experience from the ones their parents had. On campuses across the country shiny new buildings are popping up, bearing corporate logos or the […]

To address health inequalities, look beyond the role of individual responsibility

A new report by the Canadian Medical Association provides a timely reminder that money buys better health, even in a country with a universal public healthcare system. A poll commissioned by the CMA found a large and increasing gap between the health status of  Canadians in lower income groups (household income less than $30,000) and […]

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 […]

BC isn’t broke: putting teacher bargaining in perspective

Last Monday, BC teachers held a Day of Action in communities across the province to protest the BC government’s decision to legislate a contract and put an end to their collective bargaining process. I was invited to speak to teachers at the Surrey rally, where I had the opportunity to share some of my analysis […]

A prescription for health care reform: think integration & collaboration

This morning the CCPA released a new report (co-authored by yours truly) that looks at the thorny issue of health care reform in BC (and Canada) and identifies some practical, evidence-based strategies that have been successful in improving quality of care and controlling costs in other jurisdictions. The papers comes out at a time when […]

So the BC HST Was Defeated. Now What?

Earlier today, Elections BC announced the much anticipated HST referendum results. British Columbians have voted to scrap the HST. The best part about having the results is that now we can move on from the narrow issue of what type of sales tax is better and focus our energies on some of the bigger issues […]

What is a middle class income these days?

Whenever we consider the pros and cons of a new policy, we want to know if it benefits or hurts the poor, the middle class and those who are better off. Often, the answer depends on how we define each of these groups. It’s said that 99% of Canadians think of themselves as middle class, […]

How much does poverty cost BC?

We’ve known for a long time that we all pay for poverty. We just didn’t know how much. This is the question I investigate in my latest CCPA report The Cost of Poverty in BC. If you’re not in the mood for reading the report, you can watch a short video that summarizes the findings […]

Why is BC’s business sector so small?

Despite all the arguments outlined on this blog, and the federal election debates, the race to the bottom in corporate taxation seems to be alive and well in the G-7. The latest move comes from the UK, whose March budget announced a new 2 percentage point reduction in their corporate tax rate. Meanwhile, Canadian provinces […]

The problems with the textbook analysis of minimum wages

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the sorry state of the BC minimum wage, stuck at $8 after nine years two months and still counting. Yes, it will likely increase very soon, now that almost all leadership candidates on both sides have expressed support for higher minimum wages, but one has got to ask […]

Why incentive pay won’t fix education or health care

It turns out — surprise! — that it’s really hard to measure quality in complex social systems and that employing simplistic quantitative measures can backfire. That’s the take-home message from a recent talk by UC Berkley economist and public policy professor Jesse Rothstein who came to SFU to present his latest research on using standardized […]

A hip hop version of the Keynes vs Hayek debate

Here’s a new take on bringing economic theory to the masses — a rap battle between Keynes and Hayek. What’s amazing about it is the amount of solid (if not plain nerdy) content this video packs into such a short time. It’s fun to watch for sure (very high production values), but you get that […]

We told you so: HST introduction a factor behind GDP drop in July

Among the concerns about the HST that we at the CCPA have raised was the poor timing of the tax change. From my pre-budget piece last September: If British Columbians respond to the HST by reducing their consumer spending, the timing of the HST introduction may actually slow down the economic recovery, which should be […]

Young university grads having a hard time in the Canadian labour market

While we’re talking about labour markets, here’s a blog post I wrote for CCPA’s PolicyNote blog. — An interesting chart from The Economist shows that over a third of young university graduates in Canada end up working in low skilled jobs. In fact, Canada is second only to Spain in the OECD when it comes […]

Will the HST boost job growth and over what timeframe?

As BC and Ontario have now started paying the HST at the till, many people may be wondering when exactly can we expect to see those jobs postings opening up. This is a good question. According to analysis commissioned by the BC government from economist Jack Mintz, titled British Columbia’s Harmonized Sales Tax: A Giant […]

HST and Family Budgets: What’s Behind the Vastly Different Results

That the HST will take a bite out of family budgets is clear to everyone. The main question right now is just how big of a bite. Two studies released in BC earlier this week asked this exact question but came to very different conclusions. On Monday, the Fraser Institute released a paper arguing that […]

A New Era for Measuring Poverty in Canada

Last Thursday’s Statistics Canada release of individual and household income data for 2008 marks a new era in the study of poverty in Canada. Instead of reporting only on the Low Income Cut Offs (LICO), as they used to, Statistics Canada reported on three of the most common measures of low income in the same […]

The job market may be recovering but some jobs are not coming back

A recent article in The New York Times illustrates this point with the story of an unemployed administrative assistant in her 50s, who has not been able to find a job for over two years after being laid off. As the journalist explains, her difficulties are likely not the result of age discrimination, the weak […]

Don’t Let Numbers Fool You: Common Statistical Tricks You Should Know About

As promised, here’s my fourth post inspired by the recent Fraser Institute report on taxes paid by Canadian families. I can’t stand seeing people fall simple numbers tricks. And while I realize that I don’t have the time to argue with everyone who is wrong on the Internet, I try to make it a point […]

Have Taxes Changed All That Much Over the Past Half Century?

A recently released Fraser Institute report claims that the tax bill of the average Canadian family grew by a whopping 1,624% since 1961. This is an enormous number, designed to appeal to our sensationalism-hungry media, but it does not provide a meaningful comparison of today’s average tax bill and the tax bill our parents’ and […]

It’s Not Just About Size: What Makes Up Our Tax Bill Matters

The Fraser Institute and the CCPA do not typically see eye to eye, but they seem to agree that personal income taxes take up a relatively small fraction of the average tax bill — about 13 – 14%. According to the Fraser Institute’s recent report on the average Canadian family’s tax bill, the average family […]