Andrew Jackson

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.

Posts & Activities by Andrew Jackson

  • Bigger clawbacks to Old Age Security not the answer


    Not content with the recent Harper government decision to trim program costs by raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (OAS/GIS) from 65 to 67, the Fraser Institute wants to withdraw OAS benefits from more seniors.

    They propose to claw back OAS benefits from seniors with individual incomes of more than $51,000, instead of the current clawback level of $71,000. Under their proposal, benefits would be entirely lost at an income of $95,000, instead of the current $115,000.

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  • Predistribution: the neglected side of the inequality debate


    The high-profile Toronto Centre federal by-election features two well-known opposition candidates who agree that soaring income inequality, especially the fast-rising income share of the top 1% with all of its well-documented negative effects, is the defining political issue of our times. At issue is what we should be doing about it, through changes to public policy.

    In thinking about this question, it is useful to distinguish between policies that affect the distribution of income by the market (called predistribution) and policies that make incomes after taxes and transfers more equal than market incomes (redistribution).

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  • Right-to-work laws are no solution to manufacturing job woes


    A new study by the Fraser Institute argues that introduction of anti-union “right to work” laws in Canada would boost manufacturing output and jobs. While they are right that these laws, which make dues payments voluntary, severely weaken unions, it is far from evident that unionization comes at the cost of poorer economic performance.

    This is because collective bargaining has benefits for employers as well as for workers, and because collective bargaining outcomes reflect economic realities.

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  • G20 leaders must solve the stagnation puzzle


    When the leaders of the world’s most powerful economies meet at the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday and Thursday, they face an economic puzzle only half-solved. Co-ordinated monetary and fiscal stimulus by the G20 in 2008 and 2009 narrowly prevented a repeat of the Great Depression. However, almost five years after the onset of the global financial crisis, the world economy remains mired in slow growth and high unemployment. 

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  • On income inequality, Andrew Coyne misses the mark


    Andrew Coyne marshals an impressive range of statistics to make the case that rising income inequality is not a serious issue. A careful reading of his article shows that this is not the case.

    As Coyne himself agrees, top incomes (incomes of the top 20%) rose much faster than those of middle and lower income groups for two of the last three decades. Things got worse over the 1980s and 1990s, and then there was a change, of sorts.

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  • Public safety must trump red tape-cutting


    When it comes to food, drug and consumer-product safety, the storage and transportation of hazardous goods, and the control of pollutants that threaten human health and the environment, Canadians would almost universally agree that governments should regulate business to ensure that public health and safety always comes first. This is particularly true in the aftermath of preventable human tragedies such as that at Lac-Mégantic.

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  • Race, class and lessons from Detroit


    Detroit's recent bankruptcy filing led me to re-read a fine award-winning book by Thomas J. Sugrue, “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit.” The basic argument of the book is that the crisis of that city  – now a mainly black, overwhelmingly poor city, a fraction of its former size and a shadow of its former magnificence  – is deeply rooted in persistent discrimination against blacks at the workplace and in housing.

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  • Why Canada should welcome labour shortages


    Employer groups such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business insist that their members need continued access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program since Canada is experiencing an acute labour shortage, including a shortage of low-skilled workers.

    That claim is highly dubious, and should be rejected by the federal government, which is now reviewing the program.

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  • ‘The end of men’ in the workplace is far from reality


    Last year there was a lot of discussion of Hanna Rosin’s best-selling book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women. The author was prominently interviewed in a Saturday issue of The Globe and Mail, prefaced by the words: “Women are ahead in academics. They’re jumping up the corporate ladder. And increasingly they’re the family breadwinners.”

    Ms. Rosin’s basic thesis is that changes in the economy and the educational system play to the strengths of women, and that power is decisively shifting away from men in the job market. This, in turn, is profoundly changing traditional gender roles.

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  • Racial discrimination and the economic downturn


    The Census  replaced by the National Household Survey in 2011  is our key source of information for “visible minority” persons, best known as racialized persons (since race is a social rather than biological concept) and since “minorities” make up close to the majority of the population in the large urban centres of Toronto, Montreal,  and Vancouver.


    In 2011, one in five (19.1%) of all Canadians belonged to visible minority groups, up from one in six (16.2%) in 2006. Almost one quarter of young people age 20 to 24 belong to a visible minority group.


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  • The dubious case for the deserving rich


    Harvard University economist Gregory Mankiw, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under United States President George W. Bush and, more recently, a key economic adviser to Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, mounts a spirited defence of the very rich in an article to be published in the next issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.


    Mankiw’s central argument, recently highlighted by Chrystia Freeland, is that very high incomes reflect exceptional productive contributions by highly talented individuals which benefit the rest of society.


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  • The end of the "Golden Age" for university graduates


    Some 500,000 students have just graduated from Canada’s postsecondary education system, and the great majority will be hoping to find a decent job and to embark upon a meaningful career.

    Unfortunately, the employment prospects for many graduates are pretty dismal, for reasons that deserve serious reflection.

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  • Why it’s worth paying for public transit


    Ontario politics in the coming months are set to revolve around a debate on whether taxes should be raised to pay for a massive expansion of public transit and transportation infrastructure in the highly urbanized and acutely congested Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), home to about half of the province’s population.

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  • Canada needs to consider a fiscal Plan B


    Canada’s Economic Action Plan is being widely advertised this National Hockey League playoff season, but it is hardly working as advertised. It needs to be rethought in light of new thinking about the costs of austerity.

    While the feel-good ads would have us think that the famous “Plan” is generating growth and jobs, last week’s Labour Force Survey showed that we have lost almost 100,000 paid jobs in the private sector since December.

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  • Canadians' consumer tax burden is not as onerous as it sounds


    Hidden deep in the bowels of the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, there is an elaborate contraption known as “the Canadian Tax Simulator.” It generates the data for “the Canadian Consumer Tax Index,” an annual report that supposedly tells us how much tax is paid by the average Canadian family.

    The latest report was released just before the income tax filing deadline of April 30. Taxes, we were told, are shockingly high as a proportion of family income, and now loom larger than spending on the necessities of life.

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  • Thatcherism: A grand, failed economic experiment


    Admirers and detractors of Margaret Thatcher can agree that she will be remembered as one of the key political architects of our times. Along with her soulmate, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, she broke decisively with the post-war Keynesian welfare state and ushered in the still-enduring age of neo-liberalism.

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  • Income inequality: A matter of life and death


    Most Canadians would agree that all citizens should be able to develop their individual talents and capacities and to meet at least their basic needs. We may differ on just how much economic inequality we are prepared to tolerate, but we generally agree on the importance of equalizing opportunities for all of us to live meaningful and healthy lives.

    There is probably no single better indicator of how we are doing as a society than life expectancy. This varies a lot among countries at different levels of development – and differs to a surprising degree among the rich advanced industrial countries.

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  • Budget 2013: Canada needs productivity and sustainability


    If there is one priority for the budget, it should be to look beyond the immediate fiscal issues and set a clear direction to a new economy based upon high productivity and environmental sustainability.

    The Harper government’s single-minded focus on unprocessed resource extraction for export as the key driver of growth is closely related to the loss of manufacturing jobs, our high trade deficit, continued very high unemployment, growing regional tensions, the continued marginalization of First Nations; and Canada’s failure to deal with the urgent challenge of global climate change.

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  • It’s time for Ottawa to walk the talk on skills training


    Finance Minister Jim Flaherty thinks the provinces are wasting $2-billion in federal funding to support worker training, and says skills training will be “a priority of the budget.”

    While employers tend to exaggerate the real extent of skills and labour shortages, there is no doubt that dealing with the growing issue of “jobs without people” is of central importance.

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  • Ahead of 2013 budget, Flaherty should be serious about investing in public infrastructure


    Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is said to be considering extending funding for public infrastructure investment in his forthcoming budget, as urged by the Official Opposition, the provinces and municipalities. Let’s hope, for the sake of jobs and the environment, this is a significant, long-term initiative.

    On the eve of the 2013 federal and provincial budget season, public sector austerity is still the order of the day, even though the economy is rapidly slowing down.

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