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Archive for 'Role of government'

‘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 […]

Affordable Housing in the Yukon

Earlier today, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site, I blogged about a recent (and controversial) decision made by the Yukon government about affordable housing in the Yukon.  Points raised in the blog post include the following: -Very little affordable housing gets built in Canada without federal assistance. -Without financial assistance from senior levels […]

Rental Housing in Yellowknife

Yesterday I blogged about rental housing in Yellowknife, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site.  Specifically, I blogged about a recent announcement by the city’s largest for-profit landlord that it plans to “tighten” its policies vis-a-vis renting to recipients of “income assistance” (which, in most parts of Canada, is known generically as social assistance).  […]

On the job: Why unions matter

The Parkland Institute is releasing a report on why unions matter. I contributed to the report, which was spurred by Alberta government restrictions on collective bargaining and anti-union labour law. Perhaps not surprising for readers of this blog, we found that labour unions play an important role in improving wages, improving workplace safety, and reducing inequality […]

Flaherty’s Legacy: Ideological, reckless and just plain lucky

This piece was originally published at the Globe and Mail’s online Report on Business feature, EconomyLab.   There are two reasons why it is difficult to comment on the legacy of a finance minister. 1) It is a tremendously challenging job, anywhere, any time. Stewarding one of the largest economies in the world through a […]

Affordable Housing and Homelesness

This morning I gave a presentation to a church group in Ottawa on affordable housing and homelessness.  My slides can be downloaded here. Points I raised in the presentation include the following: -Though government provides subsidies to some low-income households for housing, it is important to be mindful of the considerable funding available for Canadian […]

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 […]

How Harper can avoid turning a Budget Implementation Bill into a Duffy budget bill

On November 25th, I made the following submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance regarding Bill C-4, Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2, on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.    1.     Introduction and Context Thank you for the invitation to appear before the Committee, as Members of Parliament […]

Raise Wages, Train Workers

I have been hard on our new Employment and Social Development Minister, Jason Kenney, for buying into a widespread myth about labour shortages and skill mismatches in Canada. So, to give credit where credit is due, it appears Minister Kenney has been listening to the growing chorus of voices disputing the existence of a labour shortage […]

Social Assistance in Canada

This week I am attending a conference entitled “Welfare Reform in Canada:  Provincial Social Assistance in Comparative Perspective,” organized by Professor Daniel Béland. The focus of the conference is “social assistance,” which typically encompasses both last-resort social assistance (i.e. ‘welfare’) and disability benefits.  In Ontario, the former is known as Ontario Works and the latter […]

Polozogistics: Nine Thoughts About the Choice of the New Bank of Canada Governor

  1. He’s Number Two: Stephen Poloz was widely acknowledged in economic and political circles as the second-best choice for the top job at the Bank of Canada. So the surprise was not that he was chosen. The surprise was, Why Not Tiff Macklem? Will someone please find out and tell the rest of us? 2. […]

Glass-House Mortgages

A letter appears in today’s Globe and Mail in response to recent direction given by Minister Flaherty to private mortgage lenders over mortgage rates.  The letter was written by Steve Pomeroy, one of Canada’s leading housing policy experts. Here is the full text of the letter: – Glass-house mortgages Twice in recent weeks, the Minister […]

NYT study on public subsidies in the US

This is a little old, but it was brought to my attention late and it seems to be of durable relevance. Last month, the New York Times (NYT) published an article chronicling public giveaways to corporations in the United States. What is extraordinary is that the article is the result of ten months – 10 […]

Happy Crashiversary! Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Four years after Lehman Brothers collapsed, it’s time to take stock of things by asking a stock political question: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Where you stand on the answer depends on where you sit. Many people, businesses and communities are still struggling to regain the ground they lost […]

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 […]

Canada’s Self-Imposed Crisis in Post-Secondary Education

On June 7, I gave a keynote address to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Education Sector Conference.  My PowerPoint presentation (with full references) can be found at this link. Points I raised in the address include the following: -Canada’s economy has been growing quite steadily over the past three decades, even when one adjusts […]

The Big Banks’ Big Secret

The CCPA today released my report: “The Big Banks Big Secret” which provides the first public estimates of the emergency funds taken by Canadian banks.  The report bases its estimates on publicly available data from CMHC, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, as well as quarterly […]

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 […]

Austerity Kills: Conservative cure worst thing for what ails the economy says Stiglitz

Governments around the world are heading down a path to economic suicide. So said Nobel Prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, to hundreds of well-heeled financiers and decision-makers who paid a bundle to hear him in Toronto. With a voice as gruff as gravel, and an energy bristling with urgency, he […]

First We Take Manhattan….. What Occupy Wall Street Could Mean

This is not the stuff of usual protests. Over the past month, a little idea from a Vancouver outfit has mushroomed into a cross-continent movement. Occupy Wall Street, kicked off by Adbusters in July and coming to Toronto this weekend, has already spread to 70 American cities and is going global as protestors challenge society […]

PSE in Newfoundland and Labrador

Last March, Keith Dunne and I wrote an opinion piece on Danny Williams’ post-secondary education (PSE) legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Among other things, we pointed out that average undergraduate tuition fees (for domestic students) in Newfoundland and Labrador are $2,624/yr., compared with $5,138 for Canada as a whole and $6,307 in Ontario. With a provincial election slated to take […]

Navigating challenging economic waters

Down south, the Obama administration is in a dangerous game of chicken with Republican congressional leaders, who are cynically holding the US economy hostage in order to impose a radical agenda of spending cuts. Obama has seemingly bought into the rhetoric of cutting debt, rather than focusing on the real US problem of unemployment. Yet, […]

Electile Dysfunction

Evidence suggests that we all like it long. Mayors of Canada like it long. It helps them prioritize the next transit or water main development. Police like it long. It helps them decide how to recruit, to reflect the changing communities they serve. Medical researchers like it long. It helps them see patterns of disease, […]

Avoiding a really bad drug trip – Pharmacare versus CETA

Boomers are getting blamed for an awful lot of fiscal problems these days. But blaming an aging population for healthcare costs spiraling out of control is misplaced. Missing opportunities to manage and contain costs is the real culprit. Take, for example, our spending on prescription drugs. Costs in that part of the healthcare system have […]

New report, old excuses

The Parkland Institute released its latest report yesterday morning, detailing the huge scale of oilpatch profits – Misplaced Generosity: Extraordinary profits in Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Many of the responses from government and industry were predictable – that’s why they were addressed in the report. Let’s run through the standard excuses offered for the […]

Economy Lab at the Globe and Mail

Here’s my take on Canada’s jobs recovery, written for the Economy Lab. The Economy Lab is a new on-line feature of the on-line business section of the Globe and Mail, part the newspaper’s extensive print and electronic make-over launched on October 1. Editor Rob Gilroy has made it a lively spot. The Daily Mix is […]

A hip hop version of the Keynes vs Hayek debate

Here’s a new take on bringing economic theory to the masses — a rap battle between Keynes and Hayek. What’s amazing about it is the amount of solid (if not plain nerdy) content this video packs into such a short time. It’s fun to watch for sure (very high production values), but you get that […]

Conference Board to Review Potash

Today, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that it is engaging the Conference Board of Canada to analyze the proposed Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan takeover. My first thought is to hope that the Conference Board does a better job on potash than it did on TILMA. My second thought is, “Doesn’t Saskatchewan have a civil service?” […]

The Privacy Issue that Harper Should Focus on – Credit Info

Since Stephen Harper and David Cameron seem to be on the same wavelength, and the UK thinks it can trash census and turn to isources like credit records for its information needs, the story below on privacy, from Alberta, may be of possible interest. Report of an Investigation into the Security, Collection and Retention of […]

“Teaming Up” with the Private Sector

Today’s Globe and Mail features an article about the University of Toronto’s plan to turn “to the private sector to solve their campus housing problems” for students.  In particular, the article refers to a plan whereby the U of T would become “the first university in Canada to erect a large tower offsite with private […]