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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.
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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
Canada is one of the most decentralized federations in the world. Public services (notably health, education at all levels, social services such as elder care, and local services) are delivered and financed primarily by provincial and municipal governments.
The Canadian Constitution states that the provinces should have sufficient resources to provide “reasonably comparable services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation.”Read more
Congratulations to Statistics Canada for providing an update on top incomes in Canada, and for launching two new CANSIM tables allowing researchers to dig into the details.
While the income share of the top 1 per cent has slipped slightly since the Great Recession – likely due in large part to the reduced value of exercised stock options – their share of all income (10.6 per cent in 2010) still stands well above the low of about 7 per cent that was reached in the early 1980s.Read more
Andrew Jackson: The Distribution of Wealth: Implications for the Neo Liberal Justification for Economic Inequality
Nobel Prize winning economist and political theorist Amartya Sen points out that “every normative theory of social arrangements that has at all stood the test of time seems to demand equality of something – something that is regarded as particularly important in that theory.” Even extreme neo liberals such as Robert Nozick who reject the goal of distributive justice and favour a maximum role for free markets and a minimum role for democratic governments demand equality of individual rights to freely participate in an economy based upon predominantly private ownership of property and free markets. Capitalism is all about equal access to individual freedom to deploy labour and capital as individuals see fit, as opposed to pre liberal economic systems based upon slavery and serfdom.Read more
On January 16, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute published a study by former Statistics Canada analyst Philip Cross, entitled “Dutch Disease, Canadian Cure.” It argues that “after 10 years of a muscular dollar, Canadian manufacturers have adapted well to a strong currency – demonstrating that Dutch Disease is economic myth rather than reality.”
Mr. Cross argues, quite reasonably, that high commodity prices are not the only reason for the strong appreciation of the Canadian dollar after 2000. However, as Mark Carney noted in a recent speech, they are an important part of the story, explaining about one half of the exchange rate appreciation.Read more
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his party have recently attempted to demonize Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair for his alleged advocacy of a “job-killing carbon tax.”
As has been widely noted, Mr. Mulcair and the NDP have, in fact, only called for a cap and trade system based on the broader principle of “polluter pay,” which would require major carbon polluters to purchase emission permits from the government or on a carbon market. This is identical in basic design to Conservative policy during the first Harper government.Read more
President Barack Obama had it right Monday when he told the people of Michigan that so-called right-to-work legislation is about politics, not jobs.
Such legislation, now in place in 23 U.S. states, undermines union finances by giving members the right to withhold dues, even though they continue to enjoy the rights and benefits of a union contract.
These laws are pretty effective in undermining unions. The unionization rate in right-to-work, or RTW, states averages just 7.6 per cent, compared to 18.6 per cent in the non-RTW states.
But independent research shows that jobs, even in manufacturing, do not flow to states that pass anti-union laws.Read more
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.