Recent tensions in relationships between provincial governments and teachers, especially in British Columbia and Ontario, deserve to be understood in a wider context. Good labour relations in education and positive working relationships between provincial governments and teacher unions are a critical ingredient in the relative success of our public education system.
Canada's education system is generally recognized to deliver good results compared to most other countries.Read more
The balanced budget legislation introduced as part of the federal budget is based on dubious economic principles that should raise the eyebrows of even fiscally conservative economists.Read more
The Conservative Party recently launched the “We're better off with Harper” campaign with the claim that “with over one million net new jobs created in the recovery, Canada's economy is on the right track – thanks to the strong leadership of Stephen Harper and Canada's Conservatives.”
The number in that claim is carefully chosen, and taken in isolation is factually correct. In the five years of recovery from June 2009 to June 2014, total employment indeed rose by 1,091,400 jobs.
But if we do the count from June 2008, before the onset of the recession and the big job losses it caused, the increase in employment to date has been a more modest 753,000 jobs. And the national unemployment rate in June 2014 was, at 7.1%, still significantly higher than the average of 6.0% in 2007 and 6.1% in 2008.Read more
The Conservative Party recently launched the “We're Better off with Harper” campaign with the claim that “with over one million net new jobs created in the recovery, Canada's economy is on the right track – thanks to the strong leadership of Stephen Harper and Canada's Conservatives.”
There have indeed been more than one million jobs created since mid-2009 when the recovery began. But the job market in Canada is still far weaker than was the case before the recession.Read more
Bill Scarth is a highly respected mainstream Canadian economist at McMaster University. In a piece just published by the C.D. Howe Institute, a generally conservative think-tank, he argues that the pace of federal deficit reduction should be slowed in order to lower unemployment.
His key point is that the economy still has a lot of slack which will not be quickly closed just by maintaining interest rates at their currently very low levels.Read more
It is hardly news, but the scale of the manufacturing crisis in Canada continues to astound.
Between 2002 and 2013, manufacturing employment fell by 557,000 jobs, meaning that one in four (24%) of the jobs that existed in 2002 have disappeared. As a share of all jobs, manufacturing fell from 15.0% to 9.8% over this period.
There has been no meaningful or sustained recovery from the Great Recession for the manufacturing sector. Total employment in 2013 was no greater than in the recession year of 2009.Read more
Editor's note: after releasing its July jobs report on Aug. 8 showing 200 jobs were created overall, Statistics Canada said on Aug. 12 it had made an unspecified error in the labour force survey. The agency released an amended jobs report on Aug. 15. This has been updated to incorporate Statistics Canada's correction.
The Harper government boasts of rapid job creation since the recession. But today's revised job numbers demonstrate that the recovery has stalledRead more
There is a lot of talk about the need to build a “knowledge-based economy” if we are to retain and create good jobs in a world where production is shifting in a major way to lower wage developing countries.
To compete, Canada must indeed produce high value-added goods and services commanding a price premium in world markets because they are sophisticated and unique. But, there are few signs of a sustained transition to a more innovative economy in Canada. Indeed, we are moving in the wrong direction.Read more
Labour day is an appropriate time to reflect on the accomplishments of the labour movement -- and the challenges that lie ahead.
There is increased recognition that strong unions were a key pillar of the period of shared prosperity, which lasted for some 30 years from the 1950s through the 1970s. Unions negotiated wage and benefit increases in line with growing productivity, and these gains gradually spread to non-union workplaces.
Unions made Canada a much more equal society by raising the wages of formerly low-paid workers; by narrowing pay differences, including between women and men; and by successfully advocating for the expansion of social programs and public services.Read more
The gloomy view that the global economy faces a prolonged period of slow growth and high unemployment holds increasing sway among mainstream economists. A new eBook from the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), “Secular Stagnation: Facts, Causes, Cures” edited by Coen Teulings and Richard Baldwin includes interesting contributions from such luminaries as Paul Krugman, former US Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, and the International Monetary Fund chief economist Olivier Blanchard.
While the authors look at the issue from diverse perspectives, it is striking that the solutions offered by many are more radical than those commonly discussed in Canada.Read more
The Leader of the Opposition, Tom Mulcair, is to be congratulated for his proposal to re-introduce a federal minimum wage.
Abolished in 1996, the federal minimum wage applied to the approximately 8% of all employees who work in federally regulated industries. It also used to set a national benchmark for provincial minimum wages. Mr. Mulcair's proposal is in line with the 2006 Federal Labour Standards Review that was appointed by the Minister of Labour and led by Harry Arthurs, a distinguished labour law expert who was Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and, later, President of York University. Professor Arthurs, who recommended that a federal minimum wage be re-introduced, argued that “the government should accept the principle that no Canadian worker should work full-time for a full year and still live in poverty... this is an issue of fundamental decency that no modern prosperous country like Canada can ignore.”Read more
Best-selling author Thomas Piketty argues in his book, Capital in the Twenty First Century, that inequality is set to return to the extreme levels of the “Gilded Age” of the late nineteenth century when very large shares of income and wealth were concentrated in the hands of the super rich. And he is far from alone.
In a gloomy long-term prognostication, Policy Challenges for the Next Fifty Years, the OECD, the major think-tank of the advanced economies, anticipates that the incomes of those at the top will continue to grow much more rapidly than those at the middle and bottom.Read more
Leader of the Opposition Thomas Mulcair has launched a new round of debate over the need for a national child care and early learning program. The NDP poposal would help the provinces to finance quality, affordable child care systems, delivered by regulated providers in place of the current patchwork quilt of formal and informal care of varying price and quality.Read more
With the federal budget set to return to balance this fiscal year, we can once again debate how to deal with future surpluses. Priority could be given to paying down the debt, cutting taxes, or re-investing in public services and social programs.
These options should be judged on how much they contribute to a stronger economy as well as a fairer and more inclusive society.Read more
For all of the self-congratulatory rhetoric of the Harper government, the fact remains that Canada’s economic recovery has been built on very fragile foundations. Growth has been fueled by the growth of household and foreign debt rather than by business investment, and we have become dangerously reliant on the resource sector.Read more
The recent collapse in the price of oil begs the question of whether Canada, yet again, is going to enter the bust phase of a classic boom-bust resource cycle. There is much to fear.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a collection of essays marking the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of a Canadian economics classic, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth” by Mel Watkins.Read more
One of the perks of the position of the Governor of the Bank of Canada, going back to at least the days of David Dodge, is that it provides a bully pulpit to weigh in on economic issues of wider public interest than monetary policy. This is appropriate given the broad context within which the Bank operates, but, as Stephen Poloz now knows, the ability to gain widespread public attention comes with a downside.
Governor Poloz was widely criticized recently for his suggestion that unemployed young people should volunteer or consider working for free in order to improve their longer term prospects in a poor job market. Outraged youth rightly noted that it is only the children of the affluent who can afford to work for free, and that unpaid internships are often highly exploitative.
Twenty-five years ago, the House of Commons unanimously passed Ed Broadbent's resolution to abolish child poverty by the year 2000. We are far from that goal.
Child poverty as measured by the Statistics Canada Low Income Cut Off has fallen since 1989, meaning that the proportion of families forced to spend a well above average share of their budgets on food, clothing and shelter has diminished somewhat.
But it is a different story if we use the low income measure, which looks at the gap between poor children and the middle class, calculating the number of children who live in a family which has less than one half of the income of a comparable middle income family.Read more
Canada’s new Ecofiscal Commission, chaired by McGill University macroeconomics professor Chris Ragan, has a mandate to propose reforms to the fiscal system that reduce pollution and environmental damage while also increasing economic efficiency.
The core idea is to move towards a polluter-pay approach, whereby environmental costs are reflected in the market prices of economic activities. By taxing polluting activities, eco-fiscal policies incentivize actions that reduce harm to the environment and generate new revenues that could be used to reduce other taxes.
Andrew Jackson is the Broadbent Institute's Senior Policy Advisor.
In September, 2012 he retired from a long career as Chief Economist and Director of Social and Economic Policy with the Canadian Labour Congress.
In 2011, he was awarded the Sefton Prize by the University of Toronto for his lifetime contributions to industrial relations. Educated at the University of British Columbia and the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he earned a B. Sc. and an M.Sc. in Economics, Andrew is the author of numerous articles and five books, including Work and Labour in Canada: Critical Issues, which is now in its second edition with Canadian Scholars Press.