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.

Federal Government Must Ensure Citizens Have Equal Access to Services

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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.”

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Getting the facts straight: EI changes hurt unemployed workers

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In the last federal budget (Chapter 3.3), the federal government tried to sell its changes to Employment Insurance by describing how some hypothetical workers would benefit.

Unfortunately, the scenarios they chose were so unrealistic that most workers wouldn't recognize them. 

Instead, let's see how the changes that have been made impact real-world working Canadians.

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How more tax on the super-rich will help ease income inequality

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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.

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David McNally: Addressing Inequality by Rebuilding the Labour Movement

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While growing social inequality is the product of a multi-pronged economic, political and cultural offensive by corporate power across the neoliberal era, the systematic weakening of trade unions looms especially large in the story. After all, unions have served as the most basic organizations for protecting and improving the wages and benefits of working people (including the unorganized). It is hard to see, therefore, how we will reverse the growing inequality gap without a considerable revitalization of the union movement.

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Andrew Jackson: The Distribution of Wealth: Implications for the Neo Liberal Justification for Economic Inequality

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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.

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Why there is little satisfaction to be found in Canadian manufacturing

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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.

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Martha Friendly: Why high-quality universal child care is part of a more equal Canada for all of us

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If anything positive has emerged from Canada's rising inequality, it is that a bona fide discussion about "the Canada we want" is becoming a mainstream staple of political dialogue. Not only politicians and pundits but also ordinary Canadians have begun to make the connections between health and wealth, public services and social justice, economics and the social sphere, democracy, taxation and fairness. These issues, occupying public attention since the recession began in 2008 gained strength when the Occupy Movement shone a global spotlight on inequality last year. 

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John Stapleton: A Ball Player, a Cop, a Janitor, and a Welfare Recipient

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To whom do we compare ourselves when we think about reducing inequality?

On June 6, 2012, former Toronto mayor John Sewell and conservative MPP Peter Shurman had the following exchange before the Ontario Parliamentary Committee Hearings on the Ontario Budget Bill (55):

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Why taxing pollution deserves serious discussion

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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.

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Colleen Davison: Adding Nuance to our Discussions of Inequalities in Canada: Urban-Rural Health Differences

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If you woke up this morning and put your feet on the floor in Moosenee, Iona, Bella Coola or Longlac, then the chances are that your health is poorer than if you were greeting the day in any major Canadian city. Overall, rural folk have lower life expectancy, more injury, chronic disease and mental health concerns, higher rates of smoking, alcoholism and drug misuse and poorer perceptions of their own mental and physical health than Canadian urban dwellers. There are inequalities in health outcomes between rural and urban residents, as well as among other subpopulation groups in Canada. I argue for a more nuanced look at the unfairness of  inequalities and what we can do collectively to find ways to address them. 

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