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.

Merit Canada’s low-wage, low-skills plan for the Canadian construction industry

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Having successfully lobbied the Conservative government to repeal the federal Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, Merit Canada now wants the Conservative government to enact what is ostensibly a “low-wage policy”. It’s an effort that threatens to drive down labour standards for all workers, erode wages, and imperil the long-term health of the construction industry.

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Upstream: talking differently about health

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Social factors play a significant role in determining whether we will be healthy or ill. Our health care is but one element of what makes the biggest difference in health outcomes. This has been understood for centuries, and empirically validated in recent decades with study after study demonstrating health inequalities between wealthy and disadvantaged populations. 

Yet political conversations about health still tend to fall into familiar traps. When we talk about health we return by reflex to doctors and nurses, hospitals and pharmacies. And when we talk about politics — the field of endeavour with the greatest impact on what determines health outcomes — a narrow and economistic outlook seems to trump any attempts to address those social determinants.

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Manning, Hudak, and the folly of attacks on labour

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On September 16th, Preston Manning published an article on the recent defeat of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) at the hands of the conservative Liberal-National coalition in the Globe and Mail. Left-wing governments destroy healthy economies, he told us, they 'binge' on stimulus spending, are soft on unions, govern badly and can’t manage environmental policy.

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Predistribution: the neglected side of the inequality debate

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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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Unemployment is higher than you think

6234928908_84121ef679_b.jpgEvery month, Statistics Canada comes out with the unemployment rate, and every month it gets a lot of attention. But the unemployment rate provides quite limited information about the actual health of the labour market.

The addition of two other pieces of information nearly doubles the unemployment rate: the proportion of the labour market employed part-time but looking for more work, and the proportion that would like a job but aren’t actively looking for work, and so aren’t officially counted as being in the labour market.

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

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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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Meet the Broadbent Fellows

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Though it’s true that political and policy debates can get wild and woolly, here at the Broadbent Institute we believe that always grounding arguments in the best available facts is of paramount importance.

So it’s with considerable pride that today the Institute unveils the Broadbent Fellows — a diverse, multidisciplinary group of distinguished scholars, policy experts, and leaders from Canadian civil society who will inform the Institute’s research and policy agenda.  Fellows will contribute their expertise to further our efforts to impact public debate in support of progressive change and create innovative approaches to making our country a better, more prosperous, place for all Canadians. 

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Social well-being in Canada: how do the provinces measure up?

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This post is the executive summary of a full-length report by the same name.

In their book “The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone” Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett argue that social well-being – measured using a range of widely accepted indicators – varies a lot between advanced industrial countries. They show that there is little relationship between the level of GDP per capita within a country and social well-being. However, they find that there is a strong positive relationship between a low level of income inequality and well-being; in other words, they find that societies with a high degree of income equality among its members are generally happier and healthier than more unequal societies.

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G20 leaders must solve the stagnation puzzle

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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

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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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