The Broadbent Blog


Disclaimer: the opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Institute.

Five challenges for bending the health care cost curve in Canada


Greg Marchildon and Livio Di Matteo

Canadian economists received a pleasant surprise this year: expenditure growth on public health care in Canada finally appears to be slowing down. However, it is unclear if this slowdown is the result of explicit success in sustainably bending the cost-curve or more short-term cost-cutting in response to slower economic growth or future federal health transfers.

So is it a blip on the health care horizon or the beginning of a trend?

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Inequality and Inter Generational Unfairness


There has been a great deal of recent media commentary on inter generational unfairness, much of which misleadingly argues that affluent older Canadians are benefiting from current economic and social arrangements at the expense of youth.

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Confessions of an idealist democrat


I taught Canadian government for 30 years and over that time the course content traced the growing shift of power from Parliament to the executive branch and increasingly to the position of Prime Minister.

I recall that most of my students paid very little attention to politics and topical political issues. In the years since, the erosion of Canadian democracy has continued at an accelerating rate and far too many Canadians – much like my former students – appear unaware of these developments or, worse still, indifferent to them.

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Beyond "throw the bums out" in Alberta: Why campaigns matter


Post-election punditry is as much about story-telling as it is analysis and so far pundits (especially conservative ones) have tended to tell one story –Albertans were angry at the PC government’s spending scandals and arrogance, and so "threw the bums out."

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How do you get some of that Rachel Notley magic?


If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, Tuesday night was nothing but wall-to-wall jubilant "OMG RACHEL!" and "WOW! ALBERTA!" posts.

Winning an NDP majority in Alberta is galvanizing. If progressive forces can pull that off, suddenly any victory seems possible.

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Top 8 progressive changes coming to Alberta


The historic results of the Alberta election on Tuesday represent a resounding win for progressives. After more than four decades of conservative rule, here’s a primer on the top eight progressive policies Albertans embraced with the election of a majority NDP government under Rachel Notley. 

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A tribute to Abe Rotstein: a giant of Canadian political economy


Mel Watkins delivered this eulogy for Abe Rotstein (1929 - 2015) on April 30th 2015

My dear friend Abe had lived so long. He kept teaching after his contemporaries had quit, and was still so sound of body and mind, that it seemed to me that he just might live forever.

We both joined the old Department of Political Economy at the University of Toronto more than 55 years ago and became the best of friends. We have so remained ever since. Our lives intersected personally, politically and intellectually.

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The common sense proposition of phasing out Alberta's coal plants

coal.plant_.alberta.jpgRight across Canada and around the world, jurisdictions are moving away from coal-fired electricity generation in favour of cleaner options, and this critical debate has finally come to the mainstream in Alberta.

The Alberta NDP has reignited this much-needed discussion with its platform commitment in the current election to “phase out coal-fired electricity generation to reduce smog and greenhouse gas emissions and expand cleaner, greener sources, including wind and solar”.

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Budget 2015: Not as balanced as it looks


Budget 2015 is, surprise, primarily a political document that extolls the government’s record and highlights tax cuts, but does almost nothing to deal with rising inequality or to shape the trajectory of the struggling economy.

As expected, annual contributions to Tax Free Savings Accounts are to be almost doubled to $10,000 per year, which will cost over $300 million in lost annual revenues within five years. The increase will eventually all but eliminate taxation of investment income, to the primary benefit of the very affluent earning more than $250,000 per year who collect almost half of all capital gains and dividends subject to tax.

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Budget 2015-16 preview: Top 10 ways the Harper government has boosted inequality (11 actually)

budget-jakerust.jpg1. Family Income Splitting

The federal government plans to spend about $2-billion per year on family income splitting that will mainly benefit high-income, traditional families with a stay at home spouse, to a maximum amount of $2,000 per year. There is no benefit at all from income splitting for single parents, or for two parent families in which both earners are in the same tax bracket, including the middle and bottom income tax brackets; these families with children under 18 represent over half of all families that are the apparent target of the scheme, according to the Broadbent Institute study, The Big Split. Meanwhile, the large savings will go to families with one partner in the top tax bracket and a stay at home spouse with a tax rate of zero. This big pre-election tax cut will directly increase income inequality.


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