Should We Reduce University Tuition?

On Thursday, the Globe and Mail’s post-secondary education blogger, Alex Usher, wrote this piece, in which he argues that any increased government assistance with the goal of increasing access to university ought to be targeted to low-income students (and not consist of an across-the-board tuition reduction).  I have three points to make in response to this.  First, while Mr. Usher […]

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Preparing for Rising Homelessness

I have an op-ed in today’s Toronto Star.  The piece stems largely from a policy paper I wrote on homelessness earlier this year, and that I blogged about here. In today’s op-ed, I argue that homelessness rises after a recession, but that there’s a lag effect.  To be sure, after the recession of the early 1990s, homelessness in Toronto (as measured […]

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Reflections on The Spirit Level

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, is an important book. It is not a huge tome, as one might expect from such a broad topic, weighing in at just 265 pages of text (including lots of figures mapping inequality against some health and social statistic, and some clever cartoons). […]

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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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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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Do Tuition Rates Matter?

Alex Usher is a frequent commentator on post-secondary education in Canada.  He regularly blogs for the Globe and Mail at globecampus.ca.  Yesterday, he wrote an open letter to leaders of Canada’s three major political parties in which he offered advice on post-secondary education policy. I found the following passage to be particularly provocative: First, scratch anything that vaguely resembles a […]

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Recession’s Impact on Homelessness

I recently wrote a paper on the recession’s impact on homelessness, looking at Toronto as a case study.  I presented it on Friday at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association (May 28-30, Quebec City).  The paper’s title is “Calm Before the Storm,” as I believe that, based on the outcome of the last major recession in the early […]

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BC’s Urban Housing (Un)affordability

A new study published today by the Frontier Institute for Public Policy finds that Vancouver has the most unaffordable urban housing market not just in Canada, but in all of Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. This conclusion is based on a very simple, yet effective measure of housing affordability: the ratio of median housing […]

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Farewell CPRN

I regret to see that the Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) are closing down. This further narrows the scope and space for civil and rational public policy discourse in Canada, and is a not accidental by product of  cuts in federal government support for independent policy research combined with lack of business support for think tanks other than those of […]

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