IRPP: No Denial of Dutch Disease

Canadian Press writes, “Mr. Mulcair’s analysis of what ails Canada’s economy is contradicted by a new independent study produced by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.” Really? What does the study conclude? As quoted by Canadian Press, “On balance, the evidence indicates that Canada suffers from a mild case of the Dutch disease, which warrants a commensurate policy response.” […]

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Federal Job Cuts…the Real Numbers

Andrew Jackson has started off this discussion with his post today looking at the job impacts of federal cuts.  I wanted to add my own two sense and some calculations that I’ve whipped up. Thankfully the federal budget has started to fill in some of the details of its latest round of cuts.  In particular, it now estimates 19,200 positions lost […]

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The Universal Student Transit Pass

I have an opinion piece out on the City of Ottawa’s universal, student transit pass–also known as “the U-Pass.” Points raised in the op-ed include the following: -U-Pass programs exist for roughly 30 universities and colleges across Canada. -For a U-Pass program to be introduced, students typically must vote in favour of the program in student referenda. -When there is a […]

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Federal Post-Secondary Education Act

Last month, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) released a document entitled Public Education for the Public Good:  A National Vision for Canada’s Post-Secondary Education System. I found the document to be quite informative, filled with a lot of useful statistics.  For example: -Enrolment is rising in colleges and universities across Canada. Since the late 1990s, full-time enrolment has increased by 25%. Enrolment in […]

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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 […]

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Tuition Increases by Stealth

On Tuesday night, Peterborough City Council approved a plan for a for-profit corporation to own and operate a new student residence at Trent University.  I’m concerned that this may signal a new trend at Canadian universities; about a year ago, I blogged about a similar plan at the University of Toronto. I am not opposed to private sector actors being […]

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The Political Economy of Birding

My recent post on public sector pay elicited a lot of comments, including a fair few based on the right-wing premise that the public sector is an unproductive burden on the private sector. I have always found this ascription of productivity to the public and private sectors to be deeply misleading in that it conceals the profound interdependence and interpenetration […]

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Laying pipe in Canada

It has been fascinating to watch the growing public reaction to the full-court press from Canada’s Big Pipe companies (aka, the telcos and cablecos) for usage-based billing (internet metering). The CRTC has played a corporatist role that has largely been compliant with the demands of industry. Even in the midst of the turning political tide, the CRTC seems more interested […]

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“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 money.” According to the article, […]

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Are Canadians Paying Too Much in Taxes?

It’s tax season and people are looking more closely at their incomes and the amount of taxes they pay. The Fraser Institute released their annual Consumer Tax Index report yesterday, claiming that the total tax bill of the average Canadian family now takes up 41.7% of their income. This seems like a big number, which they use to suggest that […]

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Canada’s Dirty Old Deal

Last week the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published an update for the G20 Summit on its call from earlier this year for a Global Green New Deal.  This update showed that Canada is close to the bottom in the stimulus funds it is committing to green economic areas. According to the UNEP, only 8% of Canada’s stimulus spending is […]

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Is the stimulus killing the P3 model?

While BC has not formally abandoned the P3 model, there is a notable absence of new P3 announcements at a time when billions of dollars are being channeled to infrastructure spending. If P3s really provided value for money and brought the benefits of private sector efficiency and innovation to the delivery of public-sector infrastructure, then why aren’t we seeing more […]

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The Public Sector Recession

Most regular folks and media pundits seem to assume that the public sector is recession-proof – hence all those nasty calls for wage freezes, cuts and pension rollbacks on the part of supposedly cosseted government workers from the CFIB and other right-wingers. In point of fact, it’s a myth. Since October, 2008 – when employment began to fall – through […]

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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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Public Investment to the Rescue

The main message in Statistics Canada’s release of 2009 investment intentions is that modestly higher public investment will partly offset sharply lower private investment. The glass-half-full perspective is that things would look far worse without the increase in public investment. The glass-half-empty perspective is that this increase will not be nearly enough to fully offset the loss of private investment. […]

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CanWest takes on P3s

The existing pot of infrastructure money offered up by the feds in last year’s federal budget has been criticized for being contingent on a P3 model, aka public private partnership, where design, build and subsequent operation of infrastructure was undertaken by the private sector, and leased back to the public sector over the lifetime of the asset. P3s have been […]

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Public-Private Partnerships and the Budget

It’s noteworthy that the week before a budget that will supposedly accelerate infrastructure spending, the Finance Minister is announcing new management for PPP Canada. Budget 2007 dictated that provinces and municipalities seeking federal infrastructure funding “be required to demonstrate that the option of undertaking the project as a public-private partnership has been fully considered.” As I have pointed out, given the […]

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Public Infrastructure and Productivity

A well-timed release from StatsCan today that speaks for itself in terms of relevance to the current Budget debate: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/090114/dq090114a-eng.htm “Between 1962 and 2006, roughly one-half of the total growth in multifactor productivity in the private sector was the result of growth in public infrastructure. Public capital (the nation’s roads, bridges, sewer systems and water treatment systems) constitutes a vital input for […]

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