Behind the Numbers

Doubling TFSA Contributions Limits: Even Nastier than Income Splitting

March 2nd, 2015 · · Canada, Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

The Harper government gives five reasons why Canadians ought to be happy with its proposal to double the maximum contribution to the Tax-Free Savings Account. Examine each of its points more closely, however, and it’s clear that the TFSA carries far higher risks than rewards — for individual Canadians  as well as for the economy as a whole.

Let’s unpack the government’s arguments one by one:

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All your wage gap questions answered

February 26th, 2015 · · Employment and Labour, Gender Equality, Income Inequality, Media

Do women really make less than men?

Women make less than men. In Canada. In the United States. In every country in the world.

Belgium (yes, chocolate lovers, Belgium) has the smallest wage gap in the world. Women earn just 6% less than men in Belgium. Canada comes in 25th among high-income countries, with women earning, on average, 20% less than men.

Photo credit: The Wrap


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Teach For Canada: De- or re-colonizing Aboriginal communities in Canada?

February 25th, 2015 · · Aboriginal Issues, Education

As instruments for advancing democratic values, Canada’s public schools have an ambiguous legacy. Over the years, many exclusionary and colonialist policies have been challenged, and this shift in cultural values has inspired policies to help make public schools in Canada more diverse and accessible.

It is less apparent, however, that public schools in Canada have come to grips with the historical impacts, and ongoing threats, of colonialism. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada has no colonial history, but a more honest evaluation of the real situation would begin by acknowledging that “First Nations people in Canada continue to suffer from the onslaught of colonization.”

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Apples and oranges: Comparing B.C. and Ontario debt ratios

February 20th, 2015 · · British Columbia, Ontario

The February 18, 2015 edition of the Globe and Mail featured an article by the paper’s B.C. correspondent Gary Mason, which in part drew favourable attention to BC’s debt-to-GDP ratio in comparison with that of Ontario.

On face value, B.C.’s reported debt-to-GDP ratio calculated from its most recent audited statements of 18.2% looks pretty good compared with the ratio for the same time period reported for Ontario of 38.4%. Unfortunately, a fair comparison of the positions of the two provinces is not as straightforward as it might seem.

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Big money spent in healthcare

February 17th, 2015 · · Health Care

Is 50% of Quebec spending is directed towards healthcare? It’s true, if you turn a blind eye to just how that number was calculated. Were we to be a bit more nuanced and honest regarding “healthcare costs”, we would come to a figure between 33% and 34%. We would realize that compared to the size of Quebec’s whole economy, Quebeckers’ healthcare spending increases at a rhythm which is far from unsustainable. In the end, we would realize that the increased spending is not necessarily what we make it to be.

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Benevolent Exploitation: Government should protect payday loan consumers, not businesses

February 12th, 2015 · · Income Inequality, Nova Scotia, Poverty and Income Inequality

On Tuesday of this week, I presented at the Utility and Review Board hearing on payday loans. The UARB is reviewing the payday regulations and will issue a decision on these loans in a few weeks. This post details what I presented to the Board: at best payday lenders are predators and at worst engage in benevolent exploitation. There is a clear need to more strictly regulate and enforce regulations.

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Private businesses: stacking up money, not investing

February 9th, 2015 · · Corporations

How much money do you currently have in your bank account? Enough to hold out for a week? a month? six months? How would you like to have $111 billion set aside? To give you a better sense of just how much that is, it’s almost a third of Quebec’s GDP. Or more than three times the entire state budget, including the debt service. It’s also the size of the savings accumulated by Quebec’s businesses. Yes, savings.

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Ontario kicked off 2015 with lacklustre job and wage trends

February 6th, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Employment and Labour, Ontario, Uncategorized

Ontario started the New Year with very little change in its jobs numbers: the employment rate is holding steady but there is a shift in part-time job growth.

Despite the bad news on the job front in January – massive Target Canada layoffs and the closing of Wrigley’s chewing gum factory in Toronto – Ontario created a 1,300 jobs last month.  The layoffs will be hitting the labour market numbers in the months to come.

The devil is in the details: Ontario lost 23,200 full-time jobs and gained 24,400 part-time jobs.

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Small business tax cuts in Canada: been there, done that

January 29th, 2015 · · Canada, Taxes and Tax Cuts

In the prelude to the 2015 federal election, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is talking job creation in Southwestern Ontario.

He’s promising more small business tax cuts and credits as his entry point. It’s the political norm these days to promote low business taxes, but the reality is small business tax cuts are already old hat. Here’s why:

About a year ago, Canada’s Department of Finance released a report outlining the changes in effective tax rates for small businesses, or Canadian controlled private corporations (CCPCs) as they are called in tax language, between 2000 and 2011.

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Municipal headache

January 29th, 2015 · · Cities, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Municipal taxes. Their mere mention is enough to cause headaches for some. Throughout the year, we nearly forget that we help finance our own town or city. Then the tax bill pops up in our mailbox, and we open it with trembling hands, wondering about the magnitude of this year’s hike. This letter can put an end to many households’ home-owning project, mainly elderly and young families. Wages rarely follow the staggering rise in the price of real estate.

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