Austerity Bites? Public-Sector Implosion Hits Canada’s Job Market

Statistics Canada reported a loss of 39,000 jobs in July, even as Canada’s working-age population grew by 39,000. As a result, unemployment rose and many Canadians withdrew from the labour market altogether. The decline reflected a loss of 74,000 public-sector jobs, which was only partly offset by modest growth in private-sector employment and self-employment. There have been some doubts about […]

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The CFIB’s Municipal Manipulations

After analyzing “research reports” issued by the Fraser Institute or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), I usually end up shaking my head in disbelief. Do they really need to so grossly distort and manipulate the statistics to make their arguments? The answer is invariably “yes”.  That’s because the underlying facts are often so at odds with their claims, […]

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Absolving our Carbon Sins: the Case of the Pacific Carbon Trust

Last week’s report from BC’s Auditor General dealt a huge blow to the credibility of carbon offsets and claims that BC had achieved a state of “carbon neutral government.” Coverage of the AG’s report was coloured by accusations from the Pacific Carbon Trust, the Crown corporation created to buy and sell BC offsets, and “experts” from the offset industry that the AG did […]

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Who Is Earning Too Much?

  Last week’s publication of the so-called “sunshine” list of 88,412 Ontario public sector workers earning more than $100,000 per year elicited lots of howls of outrage in terms of on line commentary. It should not be forgotten that the whole point of the annual list – which dates back to the Harris days – is to yank on the […]

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Time to Rethink The Way We Fund Higher Education

This September, like every year, a new group of high school graduates headed to college or university to pursue higher education. But today’s generation of students is in for a very different experience from the ones their parents had. On campuses across the country shiny new buildings are popping up, bearing corporate logos or the names of local philanthropists. But […]

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Back of the Line Buddy

Posted below is my column from today’s Globe & Mail regarding this nefarious practice of providing “priority lanes” for higher-income customers — even (in the case of airport security screening) for a PUBLIC service that we all pay the same for!  And if you wonder why you get so pissed off when the high-flyer jumps the queue, watch this hilarious […]

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Freedom from government services day

Well well, another misinformed tax freedom day has come and gone on June 12th.  To mark the occasion this year I wanted to skip over the very serious methodological flaws that others have pointed out, and take a look at several other items that Canadians are “free of” at various points.  By gaining “freedom” from the taxes that Canadians pay we also […]

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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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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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