Could McGuinty’s cuts be worse than Harris?

The Ontario government’s long awaited and much discussed report of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (aka, the Drummond report) was finally publicly released this afternoon. As was rumoured, the report says Ontario would need to increase program spending by no more than 0.8% per year for the government to reach balance by 2017/18.   Drummond has adopted […]

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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 cuts could push unemployment to 8%

Now that the government is planning for an $8 billion cut,  the potential job losses could drive job losses to between 99,000 and 108,000 full time positions across Canada.  At this much higher level, the federal government could be single-handedly responsible for pushing national unemployment from its current 7.5% to 8.0%.  About half of those losses would be federal public […]

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The IMF and Austerity

Today’s IMF economic update further downgrades growth projections, including here in Canada where growth in 2012 is forecast to be just 1.7%, down from the IMF’s September forecast of 1.9%.  That is well below the just released Bank of Canada forecast of 2.0%, and clearly implies rising unemployment. On fiscal policy they say: Countries should let automatic stabilizers operate freely […]

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Flaherty’s Christmas List – all Mixed Up

Following recent dismal reports on rising unemployment, stagnant GDP growth, and a deteriorating economic outlook, we can only hope federal Finance minister Jim Flaherty will provide some Christmas cheer with changes “to better promote job creation and economic growth” (as he’s  asked for advice on through his pre-budget consultations). Unfortunately, Santa Flaherty seems to have got his Christmas list all […]

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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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Ontario NDP Platform: The Full Monty

Today, the Ontario NDP presented its comprehensive platform costing, including all policies announced during the election campaign. A popular theme among commentators has been that platform costings are unrealistic given the deteriorating economic outlook. As Andrea Horwath noted, her platform includes significant contingency funds. It is also cautiously built on the fiscal framework set out in the 2011 provincial budget. […]

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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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Deconstructing BC’s carbon neutral government

Besides the carbon tax, one of the most important BC government climate action initiatives has been the adoption of Carbon Neutral Government. That is, count emissions from public buildings and travel, reduce them as much as possible and pay for carbon offsets to negate the rest. As of the 2010 calendar year, the BC government announced mission accomplished, at the […]

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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, even his foolish offer to […]

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Federal Budget Refried

Was it worth the wait?  Hardly.   Today’s federal budget is about as appetizing as two month-old pizza warmed up in the microwave.  I guess they deserve high marks for consistency, though not for economic policy or a long list of other things. The Harper government’s June Budget is almost entirely a reprinted version of the budget they tabled two and […]

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Saunders and The Value of CIT Cuts, Part I

Doug Saunders, of the Globe and Mail, has gamely launched a real and meaningful discussion about corporate tax cuts on these pages. See the comments section of this post. Since that forum was getting unwieldly, I’m starting a new post. Doug’s stated pursuit (and mine, and I wager most readers’) – how to harness growth to maximize social welfare – […]

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Budget 2011: Smells like 1995

Back in 1995 Finance Minister Paul Martin introduced a budget that reshaped fiscal federalism and retrenched the scope of the welfare state in Canada. It envisioned a dramatically smaller role for the federal government, a role that was permanently in question through the process of ongoing program review. It was Paul Martin’s permanent revolution, for the federal public service. Today’s […]

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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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Canada’s incredible shrinking public sector

(Here’s a piece that will be in the next quarterly Economic Climate for Bargaining publication I produce, also posted on the CUPE website in pdf format.) There’s a widely held myth now accepted by many people—that public spending in Canada has increased steeply and is growing at unaffordable and unsustainable rates. In fact, the opposite is true.  The latest figures […]

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Minority Workers in the Public Sector

Another reason for that intolerably high public sector compensation premium — Further to my earlier post showing that the public/private sector pay gap is mainly due to more equal pay for women in service jobs,  a recent piece from Canadian Public Policy by Hou and Coulombe shows that the pay gap between Canadian born racialized workers and non racialized workers […]

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Fair Wages and Public Sector Workers

Today’s Globe has a long article by Konrad Yakabuski on the potential for a Wisconsin style attack on Canadian public sector workers. It’s hard to challenge his argument that this is very much in prospect, and indeed we seem set for a debate – or a series of national, provincial and municipal debates – on the allegedly large superiority of pay and […]

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Another Attack on Public Servants

Today’s National Post gave front page coverage to a “study” from the Frontier Centre claiming that wages of public servants have far outstripped those of private sector workers over the past decade. “Wage increases doled out to federal and provincial public servants have nearly doubled those given to private-sector employees in the past decade, according to a new report that […]

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

Toronto’s new mayor Rob Ford and his brother/advisor Doug just announced they are planning to contract-out garbage collection for half of the City of Toronto as soon as possible as the first step to outsourcing everything we can by next year. According to Doug Ford, this will save the city millions and millions of dollars and ensure that they never […]

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Economic Climate for Bargaining

The December 2010 issue of the quarterly Economic Climate for Bargaining publication that I produce is now on CUPE’s website in both English and French. In each issue I summarize developments and trends for the economy, labour markets, inflation and wages, and also include short pieces of 1-2 pages on related topical issues.  In this issue, the focus is very much on pre-budget […]

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Why we need public spending

David Hall at the University of Greenwich in the U.K. recently produced a really good report on Why we need public spending.  It’s over 70 pages in length, is well-written, has a great deal of really useful material from around the world (including charts and graphics and extensive references) making the argument for why public spending is so important from an […]

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The Globe’s Report on Private Schools

If there was truth in news reporting, the Globe’s “report” on private schools (Sept. 14) would be labeled a “special advertising supplement”. It is essentially a cheerleading exercise for private schools, funded by advertising from private schools, so you’ll find no news in this report. Which is too bad because the topic of private schools merits some real journalism about […]

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Linda McQuaig Thaws Public-Sector Pay

Linda McQuaig puts the heat on Ontario’s public-sector compensation freeze in today’s Toronto Star. Her excellent column begins by noting that the federal government has fended off proposed financial-sector taxes on the grounds that Canadian banks did not cause the global financial crisis. But Canadian public-sector workers, who are even less responsible for the crisis, are expected to make a […]

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Ontario’s Public-Sector Pay Freeze

This summer, the Ontario government has been attempting to implement its proposed public-sector compensation freeze. The provincial Finance Minister has essentially promised that he can convince organized labour to comply. But as recent news reports confirm, unions have not been volunteering for a pay freeze, especially since the government apparently has enough spare cash to implement multi-billion-dollar corporate tax cuts. […]

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How About Monetary Policy?

Today’s Toronto Star features an op-ed by John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. (I once had the chance to hear John speak at a press conference in Toronto and found him to be an oustanding public speaker.  But I digress…) In the piece, he argues that “we” (I think he means both the Harper government and the […]

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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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Who’s paying for the party?

Earlier this month the Economist ran a leader (editorial) and longer article asking and then largely answering who should for the costs of the economic crisis (public services and workers of course!). That’s when I wrote the piece that leads the March 2010 issue of the Economic Climate for Bargaining publication that I produce quarterly.  (I was in a bit of […]

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