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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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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Book review: Social policy in Canada (2nd edition)

Oxford University Press has recently released the second edition of Social Policy in Canada, co-authored by the father-daughter duo of Ernie Lightman and Naomi Lightman. I recommend this book as an excellent resource for students of social policy. It will be useful for classroom instruction, while also being a handy reference for researchers, persons who design and administer social policy, […]

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A Response to the 2017 Saskatchewan Budget

I have an opinion piece on Saskatchewan’s recent budget in the Regina Leader-Post. Points raised in the opinion piece include the following: -Reductions in personal and corporate income taxes help the rich more than the poor (and this budget cut both personal and corporate income taxes). -Increases in sales tax hurt the poor more than the rich (and this budget […]

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Five emerging trends in affordable housing and homelessness

Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post titled “Five emerging trends in affordable housing and homelessness.” Points raised in the blog post include the following: -The Trudeau government has spent impressive amounts of money on affordable housing and homelessness.  This is time-limited money though. -There is currently no federal plan in place […]

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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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Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada

This afternoon I gave a presentation at Raising the Roof’s Child & Family Homelessness Stakeholder Summit in Toronto. My slide deck can be downloaded here. To accompany the presentation, I’ve prepared the following list of “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada.” 1.Efforts to enumerate persons experiencing homeless have generally been spotty, but it is reasonable to assert that […]

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Dix Choses à Savoir sur l’Itinérance au Canada

Cet après-midi, j’ai fait une présentation au Child & Family Homelessness Stakeholder Summit, organisé par Chez Toit, à Toronto. Ma presentation, illustrée de diapositives, peut être téléchargée ici. Pour accompagner la présentation, je vous ai préparé la liste suivante: « Dix choses à savoir sur l’itinérance au Canada. » 1. Les tentatives de dénombrer les personnes en situation d’itinérance ont […]

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Canada: World’s Next Superpower? Only If We Stop Relying On Temporary Foreign Workers

It’s only been a couple of weeks since Disney, that most iconic of American companies, moved to displace all its home grown techies with low-cost foreign temporary workers. But the company had to beat a hasty retreat in the face of an outpouring of criticism. Amid the deluge of commentary this story triggered about where America is headed, blogger and […]

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Doubling Contributions To The Tax Free Savings Account: Even Nastier Than Income Splitting

The Harper government gives five reasons why Canadians ought to be happy with its proposal to double the maximum contribution to the Tax-Free Savings Account. Examine each of its points more closely, however, and it’s clear that the TFSA carries far higher risks than rewards for individual Canadians as well as for the economy as a whole. Let’s unpack the […]

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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 federal funding for homelessness programming […]

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Who’s a bigger drag on Canada’s future? The old or the young?

This is my latest column for Canadian Business magazine.  Giorgio, a hard-working, smart-as-a-whip University of Toronto student, asked me a great question after a recent guest lecture: What if the biggest challenge facing Canadian businesses and governments in the coming years isn’t an aging society but the economic and fiscal drag of hundreds of thousands of young people who can’t […]

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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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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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MMT: What it Means for Canada

Arun Dubois’ blog post yesterday on Modern Monetary Theory has prompted me to write my own take on the subject.  For those interested, an interesting thumbnail sketch of MMT, essentially functional finance augmented by a full understanding of monetary operations, is explained here. While MMT deals with the details of monetary and fiscal matters, the implications of its analysis are […]

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Canada’s Immigration Policy: Who’s on the guest list?

This article first appeared in the Globe and Mail’s online feature Economy Lab on Friday. My thanks to all the commentators on this page for the great discussion of the topic. This week, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship rightly noted that immigrants are Canada’s ticket to economic growth in the coming years. The untold story is this: Canada’s growing […]

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The Age of Retirement

Jeffrey Simpson seems to favour the sensible option of CPP expansion, but also wants to raise the CPP retirement age. “Curiously, there seems to be an aversion among governments to easing future retirement costs by raising the age of retirement. Australia, France and the United States have already done so, lifting the age for future receipt of public pensions. Other […]

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A New Pension Debate?

Back in the 1960s and 1970s there was a big Canadian pensions debate, centred mainly on the issue of how to address the then pressing problem of poverty and income security in old age. It resulted in the launching of the contributory CPP/QPP and the improvement of the demogrant Old Age Security/ Guaranteed Income Supplement. Public pensions in tandem now […]

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We Went to Separate Schools Together

Today’s Ottawa Citizen has a good editorial on the existence of two publicly-funded school systems in several provinces. The original concept of one system for Protestants and another for Catholics has evolved into a “public”, secular system and a “separate” system that teaches some Roman Catholicism but is also attended by many non-Catholics. Many schools cannot afford needed supplies, many […]

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Some Thoughts on Adjustment for Older Workers

The expert panel on older workers appointed by the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development has released a short discussion paper. http://www.ow-ta-sec.org/en/consultation/discussion_paper.shtml The background to this panel (promised in the 2006 Budget) was a political push in 2005 for an income support program for displaced older workers – a particularly hot topic in Quebec and, increasingly, in Ontario given […]

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Retirement – Ready or Not?

http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/srpt_rrsp_022007.pdf An interesting piece on retirement savings from CIBC. It highlights the huge increase in unused RRSP contribution room in recent years, and the widening contribution gap between higher and lower income Canadians.  As of 2005, the median total asset value of RRSPs held by pre retirement persons aged 55-65 was just $60,000 – hardly enough to secure a decent […]

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