Behind the Numbers

The truth behind corporate tax cuts (in one chart)

August 19th, 2014 · · Uncategorized

Corporate Canada has reached a milestone in 2014. For the first time ever, it is now hoarding more cash than the national debt. What that means is that in one foul swoop, Canada’s corporations could pay off our entire national debt with just the cash sitting in their banks accounts, nevermind their other assets.

Corporate cash hoarding really ramped up as corporate tax rates were slashed in half from 31% in 1997 to 16% today. Corporate Canada argued in the late 1990s that they’d use that extra cash to build more factories, train more workers and make Canada more productive. Turns out … not so much.

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Ten areas of regulatory failure that contributed, directly or indirectly, to the Lac-Mégantic disaster

August 18th, 2014 · · corporations, Energy Policy

My report, Willful Blindness?, released today, summarizes the regulatory failures behind the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. The federal government has so far not acknowledged any culpability or responsibility for the accident. On the contrary, the Minister has blamed the accident on the negligence of individuals and not on gaps in the regulatory regime.

In reality, there were multiple regulatory failures. It is one thing if there was just one or two, but the many failures contributing to the accident begs the question: was this a case of willful blindness?

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What’s wrong with the tar sands boom? (in one graph)

August 5th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Environment, Income Inequality, Uncategorized

So let’s say that you don’t care about pipelines. Let’s say climate change doesn’t concern you or your children. Let’s say you aren’t concerned about the radical alternation in the landscape of northern Alberta.

What if when I say “tar sands” and you say “Show me the money!”

Well even if you didn’t care about the above, you should care about the money and where it has been going since the tar rush began. The value of crude oil since 1986 has risen 50% from $379/m3 to $570/m3 ($2010). That has created a resource rush like Canada has never seen. At its epicentre, the richest Calgarians have seen their average incomes rise over $600,000 (inflation adjusted) an increase of over 180% since 1986…make it rain!

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Is it time for a Canadian “daddy month”?

July 31st, 2014 · · Child Care, Employment and Labour, Gender Equality, Quebec

What makes for happy families? It turns out parents and policy makers could learn a lesson or two from their kids.

Lesson one: share.daddy_mouth

OK, I’ll admit it, there is one thing you can’t share—those nine awesome months of heartburn and swollen ankles. But the day your bundle of joy arrives, the sharing benefits start. In 2006 Quebec implemented a new paternity leave program to help fathers share more of the benefits and (yes, also the dirty diaper, and the middle of the night headaches) with mothers. Result? More fathers take time out after their kids are born in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. A lot more. Three times more.

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Taxes: A Conversation Whose Time Has Come

July 30th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

It’s official.

An adult conversation about taxes is beginning to take shape.

Way back in 2009, CCPA research associate Hugh Mackenzie published an editorial in the Toronto Star entitled “Can we have an adult conversation about taxes?”– a challenge to governments to start looking at their revenue problems in a grown up way.

This week, the Globe and Mail has published an important piece by C.D. Howe Institute Research Fellow Chris Ragan, pointing out, lo and behold, that Ontario has a revenue problem, not a spending problem.

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Piqued by Piketty

July 25th, 2014 · · Income Inequality, Poverty and Income Inequality

It seems rather clear that the main theories in French economist Thomas Piketty’s best-seller Capital in the Twenty-First Century are irritating a number of people. Recommendations to increase taxes on wealth seem to be the most disconcerting to many. First, the British Financial Times did its utmost to point out calculation errors in a work which has largely been acclaimed as an important contribution to documenting fortunes: the OECD is even using its databases. A new offensive has been launched in the media to raise doubts in people’s minds. Following on Herbert Grubel, fellow at the Fraser Institute (AtlasOne, May 23, 2014, reprinted in the Winnipeg Free Press, May 26), Pierre Chaigneau, associate researcher at the Institut économique de Montréal (Le Devoir, July 18), is stepping up to the plate to voice his critiques.

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Funding Denied? Inconceivable! The Fire Swamp of Canadian Student Aid

July 21st, 2014 · · Education, Youth

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The decision to accept an offer of admission to university is a pivotal one for students; an emotional experience of high hopes, idealistic expectations and trepidation. But it also marks the first step in a series of necessary and practical preparations for any journey; deciding the best path, weighing the benefits of leaving home or staying, finding a job to save money for the road ahead, and then navigating their provincial student aid system – an adventure all its own. But regrettably, the mechanics of the student aid adventure have largely remained a mystery, where students trying to assemble sufficient financial resources must often resort to leaps of faith in uncharted territory.

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July 1st: Tenants Have No Reason To Celebrate

July 18th, 2014 · · Housing, Quebec

Each year, Canada Day coincides with Moving Day in Quebec. For the luckiest in the lot, the celebrations include heat and sweat, heavy boxes, cumbersome household appliances, laughs with pals, beer and pizza. However, still too often, when leases expire families end up on the street, unable to find adequate and affordable housing.

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For the Sixth Year in a Row, Students are Struggling to Find Summer Jobs.

July 17th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Education, Employment and Labour

There is something great about summer in Canada; it’s hot but also full of promise with places to visit, camping, travelling, cottaging, trips to the beach and various summer events and festivals.

For many of Canada’s students, however, summer has not been so great. New data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey released Friday shows that students are struggling to find summer jobs for the sixth year in a row.

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Financial Risk and Alberta’s Tar Sands

July 16th, 2014 · · Alberta, Environment

When it comes to global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that what matters is the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions going forward. This amounts to about 30 years of emissions at current levels – a global carbon budget that would provide the world a 66% chance of staying below 2°C. There is some debate about whether an upper limit of 2°C is itself too high – it poses unacceptable and catastrophic consequences for the most vulnerable countries – but nonetheless the 2°C target has been adopted in international negotiations towards a new treaty to address climate change.

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