Income transfers, means testing, and universality, oh, my!

Overall, the NDP leadership race has provided a lot for progressive economists to be excited about. From progressive tax reform to fair wages and worker’s rights, poverty fighting income transfers to new universal social programs, the four leadership candidates have put substantive and laudable social democratic proposals on the table. Unfortunately, the last debate waded into unhelpful – if not […]

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The NDP and Old Age Security

NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh has proposed (with few details) to reform the current Old Age Security system by integrating Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS.) “A Jagmeet Singh-led government will implement the Canada Seniors Guarantee to ensure that no Canadian senior has to live in poverty. The Canada Seniors Guarantee will combine a number of […]

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The Federal Role in Poverty Reduction

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’m co-author of a blog post titled “The Federal Role in Poverty Reduction.” Points raised in the blog post include the following: -Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development has been tasked to lead the development of a Canada Poverty Reduction Strategy. -Total public social spending in Canada (as […]

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Ten things to know about the CPP debate

This fall, Canada’s Parliament will debate a proposal to expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).  And over at the Behind the Numbers web site, I’m co-author of a blog post titled “Ten things to know about the CPP debate.” The blog post’s other co-authors are Allan Moscovitch and Richard Lochead. Points raised in the blog post include the following: -CPP […]

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Guaranteed Annual Income

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post titled “Ten things to know about Canada’s guaranteed annual income debate.” Points raised in the blog post include the following: -There are people and groups on both the left and right of the political spectrum who favour a Guaranteed Annual Income (also known as a […]

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Is your pension in climate denial?

Fossil fuel divestment campaigns have become a focus for climate change organizing, targeting university endowments, churches, foundations and pension funds. While the motivations are primarily moral—if it is wrong to wreck the climate, it is wrong to profit from that wreckage—there are important economic arguments for divestment. If we are to have a reasonable chance at staying below 2°C of […]

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Declining pensions and bargaining power

[Cross-posted on my blog here.] It’s relatively common knowledge that employer-run pensions have been scaled back over the past few decades. I’ve decided to dig up some data on pensions for this post to see just how this has taken place in Canada, motivated by a recently-released analysis of US pension reform that finds contradictions in how US workers have come […]

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Canada Post’s vow to ‘protect taxpayers’ needs a reality check

This piece was first published in the Globe & Mail. In a move that caught everyone off-guard, Canada Post announced a five point “action plan” last week that included phasing-out home delivery of the mail over the next five years, making Canada the only G7 nation to do so. Why? To “protect taxpayers.” Of all the reasons that merit discussion as to whether letter […]

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Are Canadian investors headed for a carbon cliff?

An oped based on my and Brock Ellis’ recent report, Canada’s Carbon Liabilities, was published in iPolitics (alas, behind a pay wall): Canada’s economic development model is on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action. Worldwide, extreme weather events from drought to floods to powerful storms and record-breaking temperatures are making a powerful statement that climate […]

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Carbon bubbles and fossil fuel divestment

Divestment from fossil fuels is an idea whose time has come. Sparked by Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article last summer, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”, divestment campaigns are now up and running on over 300 university campuses in the US, with 4 early victories already notched. Students in Canada have declared tomorrow (March 27) Fossil Fools Day, a national day of action, with many campuses launching […]

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OAS, the Budget and the Baby Boomers

The Budget justifies raising the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS on the grounds that  the long-term fiscal sustainability of the program is being undermined by rising life expectancy. No estimates of savings are provided. They will be very modest. Given that average life expectancy at age 65 is 20 years, raising the eligibility age by two years could […]

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Budget 2012: Pennywise But Pound Foolish

Marc, Andrew and Toby have posted substantial analyses of yesterday’s federal budget and I have some comments in today’s Hamilton Spectator. My two cents about the budget’s economic forecasts follow. Table 2.1 envisions a 7.5% unemployment rate this year, slightly above last year’s rate of 7.4%. That seems like an admission of failure from a budget ostensibly about job creation. […]

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Pooled Registered Pension Plans

PRPPs – or what I prefer to call Mr. Flaherty’s Inferior Pension Plan or FLIP- are a poor alternative to the option of expanding the Canada Pension Plan. Unlike the CPP, PRPPs will not provide a defined pension benefit  in retirement; there is no required employer contribution; there is no inflation indexing; costs will be much higher than the CPP, […]

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Stapleton on Harper’s Proposed OAS/GIS Changes

John Stapleton has an opinion piece out on Prime Minister Harper’s proposed changes to Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). I find the following quote from Stapleton to be particularly troubling: By providing OAS and GIS at age 65, Canada has greatly reduced the incidence of poverty among seniors. By moving the age of eligibility for OAS […]

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Old Age (In)Security

Here is an overview of today’s timely Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives paper on Old Age Security: Old Age Security (OAS) is the basic building block of Canada’s retirement income system. Canadians build on that foundation, saving for their retirement with benefits from the Canada or Quebec Pension Plan, a workplace pension if they’re lucky enough to have one, and […]

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Diane Finley’s Demographics

On CTV yesterday, human resources minister Diane Finley said (45 seconds into this interview): “As we go forward, we’re going to have three times the expense in Old Age Security as we do now, but we’re only going to have half the population to pay for it.” That sounds pretty scary. If the total cost triples, with only half as […]

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Is The OAS/GIS Program Unaffordable?

No. Of course not. Even if the government waves around scary large increases in nominal dollar terms. As has been widely reported, the most recent OAS actuarial report shows that total program expenditures will rise from $38.8 billion in 2011 to $107.9 billion in 2030. However, the dollar figure reflects, not just an increase in the number of OAS beneficiaries […]

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Hiking the Retirement Age is the Wrong Answer to the Retirement Crisis

Raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplement (OAS/GIS) benefits is the worst possible way to deal with the retirement income security crisis facing Canadians. Experts such as former Assistant Chief Statistician Michael Wolfson project that one half of all middle income baby boomers face a severe cut to their living standards in old age. This is […]

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When Will The Baby Boomers Retire?

Canada’s population, we are frequently told, is rapidly aging. The big baby boomer cohort is headed out of the workforce, meaning  that we face a future of very slow labour force growth and even possible shortages of workers. CIBC Economics has just gone so far as to argue that the Bank of Canada can afford to be more relaxed about […]

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Investors Gouged by High Fees

Good coverage in the Globe for the CLC’s calculations on the huge negative impact of high management fees on investment returns from RRSPs and the like, as opposed to the low cost CPP. Does anybody out there find the investment fund industry response (we are providing good advice) convincing? If so, you will just love PRPPs!

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The financial wealth of Canada’s top 1%

Following up on my post on wealth and income of the top 1%, Eric Pineault wrote to add some data on financial wealth distribution for Canada. He had a research assistant comb through microdata from Statcan’s Survey of Financial Security from 2005, and notes: “the 1% richest (all households are classed according to net worth rather then income) hold 22% of […]

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