The Broadbent Blog


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

PBO sheds new light on federal budget with transparency push



The Liberal election platform promised to “make the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) truly independent” of the government and to make sure that the office is properly funded. The platform also promised to make government accounting “consistent and clear.”

It was, then, a bit surprising that the PBO had to make a formal request for information normally provided in the federal budge, and was forced to provide its own estimates for the missing numbers in its report to Parliament on April 6.  The Department of Finance finally released the requested information only on April 8, more than two weeks after the budget was delivered in the House of Commons (on March 22nd.)

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Climate policy and Canadian social democracy


Recent events have triggered an important discussion on the Left’s approach to climate change policy. The Leap Manifesto is one expression of the desire to transition to a carbon neutral economy while creating a more just and “caring” society.

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Canada's Left is having a moment




Something quite remarkable is happening in Left politics in Canada. And no, we don’t mean the fallout from the NDP convention in Edmonton, though we’ll return to that in a moment.

What we’re talking about is the fact that virtually every major Canadian news story of the past few months has revolved around the advancement of core progressive concerns.

The Left, broadly defined, is on a roll. Think about it. A small sampling includes:

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New report shines light on dynamics of gender pay gap



Every year, women around the world celebrate (angrily) the day their average full-time, full-year earnings have caught up to men’s average full-time full-year earnings from the year before.

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Rising Life Expectancy of the Rich Should Not Threaten Pensions for the Poor


As expected, the federal budget delivered on  the Liberal promise to leave the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) retirement benefits at age sixty five. The Harper government had previously decided to phase in an increase to age sixty seven.

Many pundits have argued that the eligibility age should rise in line with longer life expectancy. They say that a higher retirement age would reduce the growing cost of the OAS/GIS program, and will boost the economy by pushing seniors to work longer.

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Voting for something


Editor’s note: Debate on electoral reform loomed large at Progress Summit 2016. Broadbent Institute founder Ed Broadbent told delegates at Canada’s largest annual progressive policy conference that the fight for proportional representation is a fight that progressives can - and must - win.

And Postmedia News columnist Andrew Coyne and Alex Himelfarb, former clerk of the Privy Council, representing the Yes side in the Great Debate: Be it Resolved that Canada Needs Proportional Representation, argued persuasively about how the current winner-take-all system is broken and PR is the only solution to remedy the problems of first-post-the-post.

Below, Broadbent Institute Leadership Fellow Jennifer Hollett shares her perspective.

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Stephen Harper's Unintended Social Policy Legacy


The new Canada Child Benefit (CCB) unveiled in the 2016 federal Budget has been widely supported by progressives and anti poverty activists who have long favoured the expansion of income tested child tax credits. By contrast to the so called middle-class tax cut which favours the more affluent, the CCB will have a positive impact upon the lamentably high rate of child poverty in Canada (which stood at 16.5% in 2013), and will promote greater income equality among families with children.

Somewhat ironically, the new program is an unintended consequence of the regressive policies of the Harper government which opened up the needed fiscal room for progressive change. 

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Remarks delivered by Ed Broadbent at Progress Summit 2016


Below is an excerpt of speech delivered by Ed Broadbent at Progress Summit 2016.

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Federal Budget 2016: A One Time Fix?


The Budget reinvests significantly and appropriately in many important government programs broadly in line with the promises made in the Liberal platform. However, it falls short in some important areas, and the biggest failure is to restore federal fiscal capacity to support improved social programs and public services over the long term.

The bottom line is that the Budget increases federal government program spending from 13.6% of GDP in 2015-16, the last year of the Conservative government, to 14.6% of GDP in each of the next two fiscal years. This represents a significant increase in spending of about $20 Billion in the coming year, 2016-17. Program spending is, however, forecast to gradually decline as a share of GDP back to the 2015-16 level after the next two years.

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Ed Broadbent: Intellectual, Communicator, Social Democrat




I’m remembering an evening in Spring 1968 (I hope I have the right date), when I was together with Ed Broadbent at an academic meeting in Toronto.

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