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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How Rob Ford Can Fix Social Housing

I have an opinion piece in today’s Toronto Star regarding Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). Mr. Ford would like to see a considerable number of units from TCHC’s existing stock sold off.  For background on the issue, please my blog post of April 13, which can be found here. In today’s piece, I argue that it is more […]

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The Town Without Poverty

A guest post from Richard Pereira, a recent winner of the PEF Essay Contest… – Canadian Economics Association – The Town Without Poverty There were hundreds of speakers at this year’s CEA conference in Ottawa.  About a dozen of these were designated “Special Lectures/Conférences spéciales” and among them were Jack Mintz on “The GST After Twenty Years”, Don Drummond on […]

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Debunking the Myth of the Lazy Student

Results of a major survey of post-secondary students were released on Thursday.  The 149-page report, entitled Sources et Modes de Financement des Etudiants the Premier Cycle 2009, was written by the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ).  It was done in collaboration with Léger Marketing, who suveyed almost 13,000 undergraduate students in Quebec, spanning 14 different post-secondary institutions in the province.  According […]

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How Political is Statscan?

The recent controversy over the long-form census has caused me to be a bit more suspicious of Statscan lately.  Two recent events in particular have left me scratching my head. First, as part of my doctoral dissertation research, I was trying to get ahold of (time series) social assistance statistics for all 10 Canadian provinces, namely social assistance rates and caseloads, going back […]

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BC’s carbon tax turns two

With all of the attention focused on the HST implementation on July 1, most people seemed to miss the next increment of that other much-hated tax, BC’s carbon tax. As of July 1, the carbon tax is now $20 per tonne of CO2, or about 4.6 cents on a litre of gasoline. And like any two-year old, this toddling tax […]

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Social Assistance in Ontario

Two weeks ago, the report of a government-appointed panel on Ontario’s social assistance system was made public.  The report, entitled “Recommendations for an Ontario Income Security Review,” was written by the 11-member Ontario Social Assistance Review Advisory Council, which had been struck in December 2009 by the McGuinty government.  The Council had been asked to make recommendations on the “scope and terms of […]

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Following the money: the case of BC communities

It is one of those publications that few media outlets will report on, and even fewer British Columbians will read, but BC Stats just released the latest version of its Local Area Economic Dependencies, updated based on 2006 census data. This publication basically asks where the income in various BC communities comes from. In many communities the resource sector is […]

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A neglected aspect of stimulus

Much of the debate about economic stimulus has been on infrastructure (picture the Hoover Dam, as Stephen Gordon comments). But there is more! One neglected area is around income support, including EI, the CCTB, GST credit and provincial social assistance programs. Below is the quick synopsis from the CCPA’s alternative economic and fiscal update, and thankfully, the Caledon Institute has […]

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Statistics Canada Abandons the Class War?

In contrast to last week’s Census release highlighting stagnant individual earnings, today’s Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) release trumpets rising family income. The political right critiqued coverage of last week’s release for emphasizing individual rather than family income and for not capturing the tax-and-transfer system’s equalizing effects. In particular, the Prime Minister indicated that his government had cut […]

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Caledon: Patching the social safety net

The Caledon Institute’s Sherri Torjman articulates some repairs to Canada’s social safety net. Below are the key elements of the proposal (full paper here). My main substantive critique is that, like its predecessor discussion piece last year, Torjman envisions a strange mix of delivery, going from federal in the short-term to provincial in the medium-term, then back to federal in […]

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Caledon Institute Budget Commentary

http://www.caledoninst.org/Publications/PDF/622ENG.pdf “There are several positive measures, most notably the Working Income Tax Benefit, the Registered Disability Savings Plan and the proposed changes to the Equalization program.  Other provisions, like the child tax credit, are a large cup of wasteful spending.  The funds could have been far better spent on an increased Canada Child Tax Benefit, additional child care spaces or […]

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Vancouver’s housing challenge

The story below was the banner headline piece on page one of today’s Vancouver Sun, and is a perfect choice for the “we told you so” file. Three years ago, after being awarded the 2010 Olympics, our BC Solutions Budget (and in subsequent editions) made many of the same points as the Olympics Housing Roundtable’s soon-to-be-released report. This report, and […]

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A tax benefit for the working poor?

This story in the Star points at (another) re-announcement of the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), a Canadian version of the US Earned Income Tax Credit first announced by then-finance minister Ralph Goodale in his economic and fiscal update prior to the last election. In the 2006 federal budget, the Tories announced they were continuing with the WITB, due to […]

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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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Toronto Star: Waging war on poverty

The latest from the Toronto Star “war on poverty” series. Here is David Olive:   A constant state of dread TheStar.com – News – A constant state of dread If the poor weren’t so conveniently invisible, maybe we’d come to our moral senses and devise a national strategy for eliminating poverty. But the one in six Canadians trapped in poverty […]

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Time to raise welfare rates

SFU economist Jon Kesselman makes the links between rising homelessness and BC’s abysmal welfare rates in this commentary from the Vancouver Sun: A whole $6! Every day!   Imagine that you wake up each morning with six dollars burning a hole in your pocket. Let’s see: How might you spend your money? Maybe contemplate breakfast, a midday meal and supper […]

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Income Inequality and Pensions

http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2006286.pdf This study, “Pension Coverage and Retirement Savings of Canadian Families, 1986 to 2003”, released by StatsCan today, highlights increased inequality of retirement savings at the family level. Unsurprisingly given increased inequality of both earnings and wealth, the top quintile of families are accumulating more retirement savings than was the case in the mid 1980s, while those at the bottom […]

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Ireland’s anti-poverty strategy

Remember a few years ago when Ireland was the talk of the chattering classes seeking to get big corporate tax cuts (they succeeded). Left unsaid at the time was that Ireland was the beneficiary of billions of euros in transfers in support of infrastructure, and that Ireland itself invested heavily in its education system (including free post-secondary education), and that […]

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Who Benefits from Earned Income Tax Credits?

The last federal Liberal Budget promised to introduce a tax credit to supplement the incomes of the working poor, and this commitment was re-iterated in the first Conservative Budget. The recent Toronto-based task force on Modernizing Income Security for Working Age Adults advocated such a supplement, and this widely-publicized proposal has been taken up by several of the leading federal […]

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HRSDC, Low Earnings and the Working Poor

An excellent article on issues facing the working poor in today’s Toronto Star cites a recent study by Human Resources and Social Development Canada in support of the employer counter-point that raising minimum wages would do little to help working poor families. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1158531020220 Indeed, precisely this point is made in an August, 2006 HRSDC Working Paper “When Working is not […]

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Farmers and the Canadian Wheat Board

Having just recently been out to a family farm (one of a dying breed) in Saskatchewan, it is clear that farmers are having a tough time of it these days – those that have not become employees working corporate farms. Squeezed between flat commodity prices and soaring input costs, many small farmers must hold down another full-time job off the […]

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Pondering a Guaranteed Annual Income

Senator Hugh Segal reviews the history and the need for a Guaranteed Annual Income: Canada’s on-again, off-again relationship with a guaranteed annual income (GAI) has made the rounds for many years. The most renowned recommendation for the GAI came out of the 1985 report of the Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, chaired by Donald […]

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What the homeless need …

are homes. I find Globe columnist on BC, Gary Mason, obnoxious much of the time, but in this two-column effort to come to grips with Vancouver and Victoria’s growing army of street people, he gets it right. Time to try a home remedy for the homeless … In a groundbreaking study 15 years ago, Prof. Culhane found that 80 per […]

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