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.

Peter Graefe: Fitting Federal Equality into a More Equal Canada

responses-graefe.png

Any project for social and economic equality in Canada faces a challenge: our primary collective lever for change, the state, is a confusing and complicated machine of federal-provincial relationships.  Most advocates of a more egalitarian Canada are frustrated by this. Reform energies are lost in doing the “federalism foxtrot” of getting the federal and provincial players on side, while provincial desires to do things their own way conflict with the idea of all Canadians sharing the same economic and social rights.  Since at least the 1930s, the dominant view of the equality-seekers has been to strengthen the federal government and its capacity to impose its agenda on the provinces.  In a more muted form, Towards A More Equal Canada calls for “federal leadership.”

Read more

Daniel Wilson: Income Inequality and Indigenous Peoples in Canada

responses-wilson.png

Canadians are awakening to the fact that income inequality is a seriously problematic trend that marginalizes large segments of society and threatens social harmony and progress. However, for Indigenous people, vastly inferior incomes are a longstanding reality that makes up only a part of a much deeper and broader inequality.

While the historical roots of this situation are vaguely familiar to most Canadians, they remain poorly understood. More importantly, an improved understanding of both existing conditions and desired outcomes must inform a markedly different approach to solutions if we are, as a society, to avoid making matters worse.

Read more

Frank Cunningham: Some Thoughts Inspired by “Toward a More Equal Canada”

responses-cunningham_0.png

Towards a More Equal Canada nicely summarizes three recent discussions about equality: the question of why people should endorse egalitarian policies, or, as I would prefer to put it,  why they should combat and try to reverse growing inequality; demonstrations of the nature and extent of inequality; and recommendations for equality-supporting public policies. In responding to Ed Broadbent’s request for reactions to the paper, I shall address a question it calls to mind put by the U.S. democratic theorist, Ian Shapiro:  “why don’t the poor soak the rich?”  (Daedalus, 2002. no. 1).

Read more

Kate Parizeau: Urban inequality in Canada

responses-parizeau.png

Inequality is often described as differential status among individuals or groups. However, places can be unequal too. Canada’s cities are sites of growing urban inequality, and it is entire neighbourhoods that are experiencing these changes. About 80% of Canadians live in cities, and that percentage is rising. What does inequality look like in Canada’s urban communities and on city streets?

Read more

Next Up Ottawa call-out for applications

nextupottawa-page_1.pngDo you wonder what the future holds for the world? Are you concerned about things like climate change, poverty, public health and education, housing and government policy? Do you believe that global and local issues are connected? Do you feel that our economic system is focused on profit at the expense of people and the planet? Do you believe it is possible for us, as communities, to do things differently at home and abroad, to eradicate poverty, to deal with conflict peacefully, to rise to the climate challenge fairly, and to ensure everyone has access to good public health and education services?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, this program may be for you.

Read more

Leah Levac: Equitable Participation in Policy-Making

responses-levac.png

Many of the growing social and economic inequalities visible in Canada today are rooted in, or enabled by, inequitable public policies. The impacts of policies on diverse groups of people are not adequately considered, and the result is often unequal access to programs and services. This inequality creates a problem of fairness (inequity). For example, in my city of Fredericton, NB, if you live in an apartment, you probably don’t have your recycling picked up. If you live in a house, your recycling is picked up every week. Your experience differs depending on whether you’re a renter or a homeowner. In our country, you may not have access to clean drinking water if you reside in a rural area where logging is a major industry. If you live in an urban area in Canada, you almost certainly have clean drinking water. You have a different experience depending on whether you have access to a good water treatment system, and whether you reside close to a natural resource extraction industry. In my city, my province, and our country, you cannot vote until you’re 18 years old. Access to an important piece of our democracy depends on your age.  

Read more

Miles Corak: Inequality and life chances

responses-corak.png

While it is now only just over a year since the Occupy Wall Street movement began to draw attention to the wide and growing gulf between the 1% and the 99%, many have been quick to dismiss its staying power. After all, it was pointed out from the very beginning that the Occupy movement really did not have much to offer in terms of concrete policy proposals. Asked by the Wall Street Journal last October about his views on OWS, Martin Feldstein, the prominent Harvard economist, could only say: “I can’t figure out what that’s all about…I haven’t seen what they’re asking for.”

But the vagueness OWS projects in terms of its policy proposals is hardly a basis for dismissing its significance.

Read more

Stephen Harper's Monty Python moment

chapman_as_brian.jpg

What have the unions ever done for us?

In the past few months, I have heard a number of right-wing figures publicly question the value of unions in our society, and I can’t help but think of a scene from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian.

Read more

Canada should not adopt U.S.-style anti-union laws

michigan-web.jpg

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

Sheila Block: Austerity agenda will increase labour market inequality

responses-block_0.pngThis is the final section of a three-part commentary by Sheila Block on our Equality Project report. Read part one and part two.

Governments at all levels in Canada have embarked on an austerity agenda that includes reducing public sector employment and efforts to privatize public services. This policy direction will slow economic growth, harm the quality of public services, and the loss of services will have a larger impact on low-income Canadians than higher income Canadians. Along with these other impacts, this austerity agenda will increase income inequality.

Read more