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Archive for 'cities'

More on the At Home/Chez Soi Study

Earlier this month, I blogged about the At Home/Chez Soi homelessness study prior to the release of its final report. Today I’ve blogged again, this time about the contents of the final report itself.  This second blog post, being rather long and nuanced, was written for the Homeless Hub.  It can be accessed at this […]

10 Things to Know About the At Home/Chez Soi Study

On Tuesday, April 8, results of the Mental Health Commission of Canada‘s At Home/Chez Soi homelessness study will be released at an Ottawa press conference. The study followed more than 2,000 participants in five Canadian cities.  All were homeless when the study began. Half of them received the Housing First intervention, and half of them did […]

The Ford Nation, Perils of Populism and Public Choice

Watching Rob Ford in the recent weeks reminds me of what John Ralston Saul once wrote of Benito Mussolini and his contemporary reincarnation in Silvio Berlusconi: “He was the nascent modern Heroic leader. Mussolini combined the interests of corporatism with public relations and sport, while replacing public debate and citizen participation with false populism and […]

Homelessness Policy

This afternoon, I gave a presentation on public policy responding to homelessness in Canada, with a focus on the past decade.  I gave the presentation at this year’s annual conference of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. Points I made in the presentation include the following: -Once inflation is accounted for, the current annual value of […]

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 […]

The dubious case for casinos

I got way off my usual research agenda this morning for a business panel on CBC radio. The topic was the economics of casinos, the result of the City of Surrey voting down a new casino proposal. I have often disparagingly compared stock markets to casinos, but in fact I knew relatively little about the […]

SK Budget: Where’s the Inter-governmental Love?

A hallmark of Brad Wall’s premiership has been cosy relations with municipal governments and the two westernmost provincial governments. Since taking office, the Sask. Party has been throwing money at municipalities. It pledged not to sign the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement with Alberta and BC, but then did so through the New West […]

The Universal Student Transit Pass

I have an opinion piece out on the City of Ottawa’s universal, student transit pass–also known as “the U-Pass.” Points raised in the op-ed include the following: -U-Pass programs exist for roughly 30 universities and colleges across Canada. -For a U-Pass program to be introduced, students typically must vote in favour of the program in […]

The Privatization of Social Housing

Last weekend, I spoke on a panel at the Annual Conference of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association.  The panel was inspired in large part by the recent debate in Toronto over Mayor Rob Ford’s attempt to sell social housing units to private buyers.  The panel, entitled “To Privatize or Not to Privatize? That is the question,” included myself, Vince Brescia (President and CEO […]

How Rob Ford Can Fix Social Housing

I have an opinion piece in today’s Toronto Star regarding Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). Mr. Ford would like to see a considerable number of units from TCHC’s existing stock sold off.  For background on the issue, please my blog post of April 13, which can be found here. In today’s piece, I […]

Municipalities, Procurement and Canada-EU Trade

There is an excellent post by Scott Sinclair at the CCPA blog.

Are We an Urban Nation?

Why yes of course we are, but perhaps not quite so urban as we think.  It is often asserted that most Canadians now live in big cities or their suburbs. But this is a bit misleading, leaving the impression that almost all of us live in Greater Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Statscan has decided to […]

Housing on the knife’s edge

At long last, the federal government has decided to seriously address the housing price bubble that has increasingly concerned Canadians. On the heels of multiple warnings from the Bank of Canada that Canadians have taken on too much household debt for comfort (we hold the dubious distinction of having the worst consumer debt to financial […]

Communities in Crisis

The full reports of the CLC Communities in Crisis project are now available  (links are at the end of each community summary.) Canada lost almost 500,000 full-time jobs between the Fall of 2008 and the Summer of 2009, with a particularly devastating impact upon industrial communities where a wave of layoffs and plant closures added to […]

Vancouver bids to be world’s greenest city

Last week, the City of Vancouver’s task force, the Greenest City Action Team, issued a plan for the city with short and longer-term goals and policy advice on achieving them. The report covers more than climate change, a good thing as it is important to identify win-wins that lead to improvement on other environmental, health […]

EI Benefits by City

UPDATE (September 29): Quoted by The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, and Canadian Press . . . A recent inquiry for a NOW Magazine article has inspired me to use the July Employment Insurance (EI) figures, released this morning, to examine how this program serves Canadian cities. However, I begin with a national […]

Participatory Democracy in Action in Brazil

I came across an interesting piece in YES! Magazine about a city in Brazil that took an innovative approach to poverty reduction and practically ended hunger by adopting a food-as-a-right policy. Here is their story in a nutshell (although I recommend checking out the actual article). Belo Horizonte is the fourth largest city in Brazil […]

Mike Harris Blames the Victim … Again

Lightning should surely have struck the offices of the Fraser Institute last week when it released a study co-authored by Mike Harris, the former Ontario Premier, on the supposedly declining state of the City of Toronto.   The study itself (“Is Toronto in Decline?”, available at  was nothing to write home about.  It consisted […]

Toronto Fiscal Panel: The View From Inside

I recently took a crash course in the fascinating, challenging economics of municipal finance. I was one of the 6 members of the independent panel that was formed to review the City of Toronto’s fiscal situation. The panel issued its report last month. Most progressive economists have long recognized the growing economic importance of cities, […]

Climate Keynesianism

With recession on everyone’s lips south of the border, how much longer can Canada hold out before we begin to feel the nasty effects in the Great White North? I am guessing that the Tories want to go to the polls now because they know the economy is slipping and they do not want to […]

Is Big City Real Estate Overpriced?

The current issue of Maclean’s features a typically provocative cover on “Real Estate 2008.” The “Buy? Sell? Panic?” headline caught my attention because I am currently selling a place in Ottawa and moving to Toronto. The story inside Maclean’s is far more soothing, suggesting that there is no risk of a real estate crash in […]

Municipal police as a locus for PPP’s?

While reading a recent issue of l’Aut’ Journal, I came accross a story claiming that the Montréal municipal police offers privately some of its services (e.g. bodyguards). Well, a rapid visit on the website of the municipal police verified that claim. In fact, there is a whole brochure on the site which details all the […]

Vancouver Dreaming

I was asked to submit a dream statement for a conference this weekend called Dream Vancouver. Here is my contribution: My Vancouver dream is like those ones when you are there in your house and are doing stuff – but it is not really your house here on planet Earth. My Vancouver dream is a […]

The Tax Back Guarantee in Action

As usual, the federal surplus has come in far larger than forecast: $14 billion for 2006/07. As legislated through the Tax Back Guarantee, all of the interest savings from this debt repayment will finance personal income tax cuts. Therefore, the 2006/07 surplus will reduce income taxes by $0.7 billion annually. This tax cut will barely put […]

Ontario’s Income and Property Taxes

To put some figures on yesterday’s commentary about the social-service download to municipalities and low provincial-income taxes, I checked the latest Equalization tables (which are publicly available from Finance Canada). In 2005/06, Ontario collected $22 billion of personal-income taxes. At national-average rates – an average dragged down by low-tax Alberta and by Ontario itself – […]

Too Little, Too Late

Premier McGuinty has pledged to relieve Ontario municipalities of $1 billion in disability-support payments and prescription-drug benefits if his government is re-elected. Municipalities will continue to pay for a further $3 billion of provincial social-service programs. During the Great Depression, Canada’s patchwork system of municipal relief proved totally inadequate. Subsequently, provincial governments established social-welfare programs and uploaded […]

The Taxpayers Federation Releases the Reins of Power?

Further to my previous post, today’s Ottawa Citizen reports that Walter Robinson is stepping down as Larry O’Brien’s chief of staff.

TILMA: A Report from the Front Line

On Tuesday, I testified before the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on the Economy, which is holding public hearings on joining TILMA. The Legislative Assembly is broadcasting the hearings and promptly posting the recordings. To see my presentation, click “Video 1″ for June 5 and use the bar immediately below the screen to advance the […]

More Legal Analysis of TILMA

The Canadian Union of Public Employees released Steven Shrybman’s second assessment of TILMA at this year’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting. His first was for the Ontario Federation of Labour. Alberta-BC trade deal will undermine Municipal authority June 2, 2007 09:38 AM Calgary – A legal opinion produced by Sack Goldblatt Mitchell sheds damaging new light […]