Canadian Housing Observer 2010

In late-October, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released the Canadian Housing Observer 2010.  I’ve finally given it a thorough read and am struck by some of the statistics. The MLS average price of a home in Canada has almost doubled in the past decade.  In 2000, the figure was just under $164,000.  By 2009, it was just over $320,000.  Perhaps not surprisingly, during this same period, residential […]

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Blaming the Victims: Quebec Students

Last month, I blogged about a major new report on the living conditions of Quebec undergraduate students.  The report’s findings include the fact that 50% of full-time undergraduate students in Quebec report living on less $12,200 per year. On the heels of that report’s release comes the news that the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ), which lobbies on behalf […]

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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 to Lower Poverty Without Really Trying

Followers of statistical entrails have known for some time that the incidence of poverty (sorry, low income)  varies between surveys. The Census – which covers 20% of the population – captures significantly more low income persons  than does the annual Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics which is based on a much smaller sample which is followed for a period […]

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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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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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A New Era for Measuring Poverty in Canada

Last Thursday’s Statistics Canada release of individual and household income data for 2008 marks a new era in the study of poverty in Canada. Instead of reporting only on the Low Income Cut Offs (LICO), as they used to, Statistics Canada reported on three of the most common measures of low income in the same publication (LICO, the low income […]

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Quebec Tax Changes

The comments on my post about Ignatieff and corporate tax cuts have turned into a debate about Quebec’s recent budget. In particular, Stephen Gordon has thrown down the gauntlet: The Quebec budget includes measures to increase incomes of low-income households. Why would self-described progressives dismiss that? . . . Just what is the goal of the PEF? Because I’m having […]

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Now for some disaster relief on the homefront

I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the public response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti. I’ve seen donations being collected through school bake sales, at the liquor store, and on Hockey Night in Canada, among the usual channels for such stuff. It’s nice to know that, collectively, we care, in spite of the neglect of Haiti by our elected governments […]

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Poverty and BC’s high cost of housing

BC Stats put out a release on poverty lines as they relate to BC, with an important finding: BC’s dubious position as having the highest poverty rates in Canada may in fact be worse than the statistics show. This finding is buried in the piece and the title, “Low Income Cut-Offs a Poor Measure of Poverty”, does not give much […]

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End Child Poverty: Tax the Rich

There’s a great op ed in today’s Globe and Mail by Ed Broadbent, marking the twentieth anniversary of the unanimous passage by the House of Commons of his eve of retirement resolution to abolish child poverty by 2000. (Ed did, of ourse, later return to the House.) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/how-to-end-child-poverty-tax-the-rich/article1374806/ As Ed argues: “We thought an 11-year agenda to virtually overcome child […]

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Warning: Credit Card Use May be Harmful (to Your Country’s Income Distribution)

Ah plastic. What’s not to love? Convenient? Check. Light in the pocket? Check. Monthly bill summaries? Check. Free short-term credit? Check (provided you pay your bills in full, on time). Benefits (free car rental insurance, points, cash back etc): Check AND… Take from the poor and give to the rich? err… wait a minute. Unfortunately, credit cards — especially those […]

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Blogging the West

No, the West is not Alberta as everyone in Ontario seems to think (I’m from Toronto so I can say that). I mean BC, where an election is on in two months. You would not really know it walking around Vancouver, probably because the writ has not yet dropped, so we are in the calm before the storm. I’ve been […]

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Living on Welfare

The BC office of the CCPA released today a major study about life on welfare for the poorest of the poor. It tracked a cohort of welfare recipients for two years and tells the tales of how they have interacted with a nasty and mean-spirited welfare system, and also the challenges they face as people in getting and holding work […]

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The Poverty Olympics

Yesterday, I attended the Poverty Olympics, held in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, aka Canada’s poorest neighbourhood. It was a wonderful few hours of well-orchestrated political satire. There were opening and closing ceremonies, a torch ceremony, a new mascot (Itchy the bedbug), and of course, events (the poverty line high jump, the welfare hurdles, the broad jump over bedbug-infested […]

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Poverty reduction strategies

“Targets and timelines” is the new mantra for anti-poverty activists, and increasingly, governments. When it comes to climate change, taking it seriously means setting goals and deadlines to meet them, a process now underway, if perhaps too slowly. The same is true for poverty reduction. If we are serious about eradicating poverty (say, over the course of a generation) we […]

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Poverty, Once Again

I’ve posted below a link to a column in the Guardian by Polly Toynbee re the child poverty target in the UK. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2225566,00.html If you follow the comments below her column, it is striking how the response from the right precisely matches the recent discourse in Canada and comes with the same manifest untruths (eg that relative poverty must always […]

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Another squeal from the Ottawa Citizen

My recent paper that found the top 1% of earners actually pay slightly lower tax rates than the bottom 10%, and much less than those in the middle- to upper-middle range, seems to have touched a nerve with my proposal that the rich actually pay more in taxes. For the defenseless and concerned wealthy out there, worry not, because Randall […]

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Family Poverty in Toronto

A dispatch from PEF member (and essay contest winner!) Nick Falvo in Toronto: Just last week, the United Way of Greater Toronto released a report entitled “Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth Of Family Poverty In Canada’s Largest City.” Some of the findings are very disturbing. -After-tax median family income in Toronto is $41,500 ($6,100 less than in 1990, in constant […]

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More Comments on John Richards, “Tough Love” and Poverty

John Myles (University of Toronto) points out that his research on the decline of poverty among lone mothers, cited by Richards, shows that “soft love” (day care in Quebec) probably has the biggest “social policy effect.” He notes that  “tough love” does “work”  in the following sense. Cut other cash benefits to the bone and employment levels among lone mothers […]

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Mr. Dion’s Anti- Poverty Plan

I’m a big fan of setting clear and attainable targets and timetables to eliminate poverty, and applaud last week’s Liberal Party commitment to reduce the number of those living in poverty by 30% and the numbers of children living in poverty by 50% within 5 years. http://www.liberal.ca/story_13293_e.aspx Clear targets and timetables have recently been called for by the National Council […]

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Margaret Wente is full of toxic sludge

Yay, we’re winning the war on  poverty, says Margaret Wente. Her recent column is based around the fact that the poverty rate has fallen in recent years. Wente uses this to go on a latte-fuelled SUV romp over the bodies of people who work with (and give a shit about) the poorest in our society. The sum total of statistics […]

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