Ten things to know about this year’s Alberta Alternative Budget

The Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) is an annual exercise whose working group consists of researchers, economists, and members of civil society (full disclosure: I’m the Editor). Our general mandate is to create a progressive vision for Alberta to boost economic growth and reduce income inequality. This year’s document was released today, and here are 10 things to know: The NDP […]

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MEDIA RELEASE: Alberta should increase social spending; cuts are not the way to go

(June 24, 2019-Calgary) With Alberta’s economy still facing challenges and vulnerabilities, the Alberta government should not be doling out tax cuts or cutting social spending, according to the Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) released today. “Alberta still has, by far, the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any province,” says Nick Falvo, editor of the report. “We are in a good position to […]

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Panel discussion at federal NDP policy convention

Yesterday I spoke on a panel discussion on economic inequality, along with Andrew Jackson and Armine Yalnizyan. We were guests at the federal NDP’s policy convention in Ottawa. The panel was moderated by Guy Caron. Topics covered included the minimum wage, basic income, affordable housing, the future of jobs, gender budgeting, poverty among seniors, Canadian fiscal policy in historical perspective, […]

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Some comments on the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario’s minimum wage commentary

The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO)—an independent, arm’s length, non-partisan research institute—released a paper on September 12th outlining the likely economic impacts flowing from the pending minimum wage increase (see here). The FAO’s findings are already garnering significant media attention and will almost certainly be used by the opponents of Bill 148 as further proof that the Ontario Government […]

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The headline you didn’t see: $15 per hour will have a big net benefit

You wouldn’t know it from today’s headlines about impending job losses, but an analysis of the impact of Ontario’s move to a $15 minimum wage from the province’s Financial Accountability Office shows a net benefit for Ontario workers. Overall, this is a much more cautious report than what the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its allies had furnished, noting both the costs […]

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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 negative impacts out of line […]

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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 considerable amount  of income concentrated […]

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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 minimum wages, which you can […]

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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 of attention lately. And for […]

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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 against premature Conservative budgetary tightening, […]

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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 unemployment, even when we focus […]

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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 a useful summary of recent […]

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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 wage legislation is an important […]

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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 the U.S. It deserves to […]

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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 and wage compression. He also […]

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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 Southwest Booster. Why higher wages […]

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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 Canada, Saskatchewan residents experienced nearly […]

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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 poverty’ done by economist Nathan […]

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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 child poverty, and at full […]

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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 credits would be valued at […]

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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 on welfare in Ontario receives […]

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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 is misused, but there are […]

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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 notable exception of BC, minimum […]

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