Behind the Numbers

Who’s your special interest now? Federal parties ignore women voters at their peril

May 21st, 2015 · · Democracy, Federal Election, Gender Equality, Media

The last time we had a federal election in Canada, women cast half a million more votes than men. And I can’t help wondering why.

The 2011 leaders’ debates lacked almost any mention of how the party platforms were going to address the fact that women work different hours, in different occupation, for different amounts of money. Oh sure, there was lots of talk about the economy and jobs. But jobs for women? Who can say?

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Nothing Changes Much With New “Plan Nord”

May 15th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Environment, Quebec

Last month, on April 8, the government proudly announced its new revamped Plan Nord. Premier Philippe Couillard’s project, though much less ambitious than that of Charest’s government, appears to be just as risky.

The government is intent on investing 2 billion dollars to build infrastructure in the North in order to make it easier for mining companies, usually foreign-owned, to gain access to the resources. By 2035, some $20b will have been invested by Hydro-Québec on new projects to reinvigorate the North’s economy. (It’s worth mentioning that details regarding these investments have not been made available.)

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Liberal election platform shifts the chips for the rich, takes a pass on the middle class

May 5th, 2015 · · Federal Election, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Yesterday the Liberals released a portion of their platform for the upcoming federal election. While I’m happy to see some overlap with our Alternative Federal Budget (AFB), I’m puzzled by the Liberals’ proposed tax changes, which basically just move tax money around in the top 20% of households without doing anything substantial for every politico’s favourite demographic, the “middle class.”

Don’t get me wrong: we love when politicians take ideas from the AFB. But we’ve got much more effective ways of spending the $3 billion raised through a new tax on the richest families rather than giving a tax break to the next richest families. Let me break it down.

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Milestones of the New Economy: One T4 slip at tax time

May 1st, 2015 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Last year marked a milestone for me: 2014 was the first year since high school where I had only one income source to include in my tax return and I continued working for the same employer the following year.

That’s at least 25 T4 slips and 17 employers over 14 years of tax returns, folks.

This is what it’s like to be a millennial working in a precarious labour market.

Over the years, I’ve filed T4 slips from all sorts of workplaces: restaurants, greenhouse farms, a bank, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, part-time contracts that turned into full-time contracts, and short-term contracts that lasted only a couple of months.

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Reality check on proposed Hydro One sale

April 28th, 2015 · · Ontario, public services

One of the strangest arguments advanced for the Ontario government’s sell-off of revenue-generating assets is that Ontario has to do it because it can’t borrow enough to support the province’s infrastructure renewal requirements.

It is a strange argument at a number of levels. First, there is absolutely no evidence that Ontario is anywhere near hitting a debt wall. Selling attractive debt securities into a market that is hungry for secure investments in stable jurisdictions, Ontario’s bond issues are always oversubscribed at attractive borrowing terms. Where it really counts—in the real world where people are paying real money for the right to a stream of future interest payments from the province—the signals from the market are positive, not negative.

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Ontario Budget 2015 throws everything but infrastructure under the bus

April 23rd, 2015 · · Ontario, public services

If you just read the words, and didn’t look at the numbers, Ontario’s 2015 budget is a magical integration of the government’s high-profile infrastructure and pension initiatives with the need to maintain the public services that Ontarians count on.

The budget devotes page after page to trumpeting the government’s commitments to elementary and secondary education, post-secondary education, child care, health and poverty reduction at the same time as it highlights investments in infrastructure and the continued development of the Ontario Registered Pension Plan (ORPP). The budget even mentions homelessness as an issue that concerns the government.

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Ontario Budget 2015: Kicks the can on fixing Ontario’s real problems

April 23rd, 2015 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario, public services

by Sheila Block and Kaylie Tiessen

Budget 2015 may be big on rhetoric, but it doesn’t deliver on the promises for strengthening public services that Premier Wynne was elected on.

It is, instead, a procrastination budget; one that skilfully avoids a conversation about Ontario’s chronic revenue problem and shifts the cost of underinvestment in public services on to private households.

The province trumpets that it will reduce the deficit to $8.5 billion this fiscal year to $4.8 billon next year and reach a zero deficit by 2017-18.

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Lost and found: What budget language says about government priorities

April 23rd, 2015 · · Federal Budget

searchlight_leftThere’s already a ton of good analysis around the 2015 Federal Budget. Critics’ consensus? This budget is short-sighted, misleading and full of vote-buying measures that do little to address Canada’s real challenges.

The policies and measures contained in the budget say a lot about the current government’s priorities—budgets always do. But the language they use, independent of the policies themselves, says just as much about what this government really values.

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We don’t need a surplus, we need jobs

April 21st, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Employment and Labour, Federal Budget

Call me naïve. Going into the 2015 budget lockup I figured the sale of Canada’s GM shares (that could have been used as leverage to keep GM jobs in Canada, but I digress) would go toward a new infrastructure plan for cities. The proportion of people working today is unchanged from the worst point during the recession and job quality indexes are at all time lows. Building things creates jobs and returns benefits to the economy. Obviously, or so I thought, infrastructure spending would make an important appearance in Joe Oliver’s first budget.

And I suppose it will… in 2019.

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Budget 2015: Here’s a cheque, now go create some jobs

April 21st, 2015 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Federal Budget, Gender Equality, Household Debt

Oil prices are down. Economic growth is down. Employment rates are stagnant. Household debt is climbing to record highs. Canadians could use a break. The 2015 federal budget has one for you.

But there’s a catch.

First you have to qualify: you need to be part of a couple; you need to have a child under 18; it would help if one of you in that couple made a whole lot more than the other cheque; it would help if your household income was more than $200,000 a year.

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