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  • Ontario's middle and working class families are losing ground August 15, 2017
    Ontario is becoming more polarized as middle and working class families see their share of the income pie shrinking while upper middle and rich families take home even more. New research from CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block reveals a staggering divide between two labour markets in the province: the top half of families continue to pile […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Join us in October for the CCPA-BC fundraising gala, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair August 14, 2017
    We are incredibly honoured to announce that Senator Murray Sinclair will address our 2017 Annual Gala as keynote speaker, on Thursday, October 19 in Vancouver. Tickets are now on sale. Will you join us? Senator Sinclair has served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • How to make NAFTA sustainable, equitable July 19, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is consulting Canadians on their priorities for, and concerns about, the planned renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood point out how NAFTA has failed to live up to its promise with respect to job and productivity […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • What’s next for BC? July 4, 2017
    Five weeks ago the CCPA-BC began a letter to our supporters with this statement: “What an interesting and exciting moment in BC politics! For a bunch of policy nerds like us at the CCPA, it doesn’t get much better than this.” At the time, we were writing about the just-announced agreement between the BC NDP […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Could skyrocketing private sector debt spell economic crisis? June 21, 2017
    Our latest report finds that Canada is racking up private sector debt faster than any other advanced economy in the world, putting the country at risk of serious economic consequences. The report, Addicted to Debt, reveals that Canada has added $1 trillion in private sector debt over the past five years, with the corporate sector […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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Archive for 'minimum wage'

The Ontario Chamber’s economic impact analysis of Bill 148 still doesn’t make sense

On Monday, the Keep Ontario Working coalition spearheaded by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released an analysis of the impacts of Bill 148 in Ontario, which will introduce a $15 minimum wage by 2019 and a host of other employment standards improvements. The analysis raised many red flags: it focused only on costs, predicting very large […]

Ease up on shareholder payouts, pay your workers more instead

With Alberta and Ontario raising their minimum wage to $15 per hour, and BC possibly following suit soon, the usual suspects have begun their predictable howling about how this is a bad time, or it’s happening too fast, or how it will simply hurt those we are trying to help. It is true that increasing […]

Economists support $15 minimum wage in Ontario

We, the undersigned economists, support the decision to increase the minimum wage in Ontario to $15 an hour. Raising the wage floor makes good economic sense. Today, Ontario’s minimum wage is $11.40 per hour. Adjusted for inflation, this is barely one dollar higher than its value in 1977. Yet over the same four decades, the […]

Poverty Reduction in Alberta

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’m co-author of a blog post titled “Poverty Reduction in Alberta.” Points raised in the blog post include the following: -The NDP government of Premier Rachel Notley has undertaken important poverty-reduction initiatives since forming a government in 2015. -Alberta (relative to other provinces) has a […]

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 […]

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 […]

Balanced Budget Myopia Breaks Both Ways

Opinions on deficit budgeting have become a short-hand litmus test in Canadian politics. Deficits are left-wing and balanced budgets are right-wing austerity.  Economists know that there is virtually no difference between a small surplus and a small deficit, but politicians and voters are a different story. I have spent the past three and half years railing […]

Workers Link $15 Minimum Wage to Decent Work

Wednesday April 15th is a global day of action on a $15 minimum wage and decent work. Actions are happening across the U.S., and in BC, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. Both in the US and in Canada, workers are making links between decent wages and other employment standards. The Ontario campaign is named $15 and Fairness, […]

‘Tis the Season to Rethink Our Charitable Giving

This op-ed by yours truly was published in The Province. The examples are BC-specific, but the message is much broader: donating to charity is not enough, we also have to change the status quo that forces so many people to turn to charity in a rich country like Canada. — It’s December, the season for […]

Minimum Wages and Employment Outcomes

Last week my Unifor colleague Jordan Brennan and I published a study through the CCPA Ontario office examining the historical empirical evidence regarding the link between changes in minimum wages and employment outcomes.  We find there is no robust evidence in Canadian historical data that increases in real minimum wages cause either lower employment or higher […]

Why the Minimum Wage Debate Isn’t Going to Go Away

Yesterday I tweeted this: <blink> Gap will raise minimum hourly pay Walmart “looking” at support of min wage raise In honour of the momentum, I am posting the piece I wrote for Economy Lab a while back, and including the numbers that drive the chart that attracted quite a lot of attention. There is a […]

Are Higher Minimum Wages Un-Canadian?

The debate over increasing the minimium wage, so clearly necessary to lift working incomes above the poverty line (not to mention boost consumer spending power), is heating up in many provinces.  Predictably, free-market theorists are pushng back (as they have since the concept of minimum wages was first invented over a century ago).  Here is […]

Raising Ontario’s Minimum Wage

On Friday, the United Steelworkers made the following submission to Ontario’s Minimum Wage Advisory Panel. The United Steelworkers union endorses the Ontario Federation of Labour’s (OFL) call for a minimum wage of $14 per hour, to ensure that Ontarians who work full-time earn appreciably more than the poverty line. As the OFL submission states: Minimum […]

Boost the Minimum Wage, Boost the Economy

A version of this article appeared today in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab. (This version includes references to the debate plus charts and graphs from data specially tabulated from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The data don’t include the self-employed.) President Obama put the idea of raising the minimum wage on the radar in […]

Minimum Wage

A lot of debate in the US on Obama’s excellent proposal to hike the minimum wage. John Schmitt of CEPR has put out an excellent paper summarizing all of the research to show that the employment effects of reasonable increases are … Zero, zilch .. Due to various adjustment mechanisms including lower turnover, higher productivity […]

Raising Saskatchewan’s Minimum Wage

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich and I have the following joint op-ed in today’s Regina Leader-Post (page A10). It’s been fourteen years since I first wrote into The Leader-Post advocating a minimum-wage increase. UPDATE (August 31): The op-ed also appeared in today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix (page A11), Wednesday’s Estevan Mercury (page A7) and Swift Current’s […]

The Right Response to “No Job Is A Bad Job”

Last May federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said there was no such thing as a bad job. The Law Commission of Ontario may disagree. This week it put out a report about the rise in vulnerable workers and precarious jobs. Now that he’s heard from executives who think Canadians are paid too much, Mr. Flaherty […]

Saskatchewan’s Rising Cost of Living

Today’s Consumer Price Index provides further evidence of Saskatchewan’s rising cost of living. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan is tied for the second-highest annual inflation rate: 2.0%. Consumer prices decreased in June from May in nine provinces (all except Alberta). But Saskatchewan was tied for the smallest monthly price decline: -0.3%. Compared to the rest of […]

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 […]

Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

December marked the three-year anniversary of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. While I believe there is much to celebrate, much remains to be done. The Strategy surprised a lot of observers, especially in light of the fact that it was announced in December 2008, just as Ontario was entering a recession.  Its focus was almost exclusively […]

The Ontario NDP Platform

Pollsters tell us that Ontario’s New Democrats may double their seat total in next month’s provincial election. It’s also entirely conceivable that they could be part of a coalition government at Queen’s Park. But what’s actually in the party’s election platform? One central feature of the NDP’s proposals is to implement a tax credit for companies that hire new workers. The tax […]

Is Social Assistance a “Poverty Pariah?”

An article in the current edition of NOW Magazine looks at social assistance in Ontario. The article is aptly entitled “Poverty Pariah,” in light of how apparently unpopular Ontario’s welfare system has become over the past 20 years. As can be seen at the National Council of Welfare’s Interactive Welfare Incomes Map, a single adult […]

Retail Prices: The US vs Canada

I saw quite a lot of media coverage of  a BMO report that Canadian retail prices are 20% higher than in the US despite exchange rate parity. There were allegations of price  gouging and references to the allegedly much more intensely competitive US retail environment. I hesitate somewhat to say so in case the argument […]

Raising the Minimum Wage

Ken Battle of the Caledon Institute has written a very useful report, “Restoring Minimum Wages in Canada.” It contains a wealth of data on minimum wage trends by province since 1965  and their changing relationship to average wages and to the low income line. Battle shows that, in almost all provinces and territories,  with the […]

The Non-Simple Economics of the Minimum Wage

The National Post ran a little pro-and-con debate on minimum wages in today’s paper.  I was the “pro” side; my argument was excerpted from a longer paper on “What determines wages and income distribution” that is available on the CAW’s web site. The “con” side was written by two economists at the Fraser Institute. Enjoy […]

Flogging a Dead Horse: The CFIB on Minimum Wage

The CFIB hav  a new study out attacking minimum wages Their estimate of job losses from a 10% increase in minimum wages is based on elasticities from studies which found significant negative impacts on employment and discounts the many studies which have found very small impacts. The OECD – which is more impartial – has […]

Economic Models and Tax Policy

Over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative (WCI), Stephen Gordon reasonably argues that economic models can be useful for policy analysis even if they lack the predictive power needed for forecasting. He writes: A well-designed model will be able to reproduce the main features of interest of the real world. More importantly, it will also be able […]

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 […]

BC’s Minimum Wage: How high should it be?

At the BC NDP convention over the weekend, Opposition Leader Carole James reiterated calls for a $10 an hour minimum wage. While $10 an hour would certainly be better than BC’s current $8 an hour (lowest in the country), I’m concerned that this campaign is stuck on a round number not what is adequate for […]

The Good Ol’ Days

My two kids are still far too young to be farmed out to earn their keep in the labour market, but when they are (in about a decade), I really hope that the value of minimum wages in Canada improves.  If not, not only are they going to have to work harder and harder to get by along […]