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.

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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Peter Graefe: Fitting Federal Equality into a More Equal Canada

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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.”

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Daniel Wilson: Income Inequality and Indigenous Peoples in Canada

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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.

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

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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).

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Kate Parizeau: Urban inequality in Canada

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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?

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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.

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Leah Levac: Equitable Participation in Policy-Making

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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.  

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