The Broadbent Blog

THE HUB FOR CANADA’S LEADING PROGRESSIVE VOICES.

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

On income inequality, Andrew Coyne misses the mark

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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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Indecent proposals: why the Fraser Institute is wrong on immigration

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My best guess it that the Fraser Institute expects no one to read the report behind their newest sensationalist press release, in which they claim that the cost of immigrants to Canada is staggeringly high. 

Anyone who looked at the report more closely would find false claims, deliberately misleading arguments, a naive understanding of global migration trends, and evident ignorance of what informs Canada’s immigration priorities.  The report is so poor and illogical that it cannot be taken seriously as contributing to public debates about policy reform in the domain of immigration.

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Labour Day: we can have the kind of Canada we want

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The last long weekend of summer is upon us. 

On Monday, Canadians from coast to coast will enjoy Labour Day, a last dash of sun (we hope) before the days quickly shorten and the leaves begin to transform. 

Labour Day, of course, is much more than a statutory holiday; welcome time off at the turn of the season. It’s a day set aside to acknowledge the triumphs of worker’s rights and commemorate what has been achieved through the collective efforts of many generations of Canadians. 

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Public safety must trump red tape-cutting

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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

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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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Confronting what makes us sick

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I attended the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) as a representative of Canadian Doctors for Medicare last year. The meeting was not at all what I'd expected. 

The CMA, as a professional association representing doctors, has often been seen — fairly or unfairly ­— as working primarily for the interests of the physicians it represents with patients and health equity appearing at times to be an afterthought. This impression was particularly prevalent during the presidencies of Brian Day (2007-8) and Robert Ouellet, (2008-9), both vocal advocates for privatization (and owners of private, for-profit health care facilities) who used their tenure to advocate for greater private payment for essential health services. 

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Sun News: denied but (sadly) not forgotten

Today Sun News Network was refused mandatory carriage by the CRTC. That means that cable networks won't be forced to include Sun with every cable subscription; Sun claims mandatory carriage is essential to their survival.

Wondering what every Canadian cable subscriber might now miss out on? Check out this highlight reel of some of the best moments from Sun broadcasts.

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The deteriorating health of the working poor

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Last year the Metcalf Foundation released a report on working poverty in Toronto. It found that 113,000 people were living in working poverty in the Toronto region in 2005, a 42% increase from 2000. The report's findings indicate that people living in working poverty most commonly work in sales and service occupations; work comparable hours and weeks as the rest of the working population; are over-represented by immigrants; and are only slightly less-educated than the rest of the working age population.

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Open for business, closed for workers: employment standards, the enforcement deficit, and vulnerable workers in Canada

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Daniel Tucker-Simmons recently completed his Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck Human Rights/Social Justice Internship at the Broadbent Institute. Tucker-Simmons was compensated for his work.

Download the full version of this article (in .PDF format) here.

Legislated employment standards are a cornerstone of a strong, healthy society, as well as a robust, thriving economy.  They ensure that everyone who works earns a minimum wage for their labour, and that nobody is subjected to inhumane working conditions or unduly harsh treatment at the hands of their employer.  It is because of employment standards that workers in Canada have the right to rest periods during and between shifts, to maximum work hours each day and week, to extra pay for working on public holidays, and to a couple of weeks of paid vacation every year.  In short, employment standards are there to shield workers – especially non-union workers – against the natural tendency of the labour market to gravitate towards overwork and underpay.

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Why Canada should welcome labour shortages

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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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