Canada

The report by Ricardo Tranjan examines the financial situation of the 3.4 million households in Canada who rent and whose primary source of income is wages and salaries or self-employment income. Everyone will be eventually touched by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but rent is due soon. Specifically, it addresses the following question: How many weeks or months can renters go without employment income before running out of savings?

The short answer is that almost half of them have less than a month’s worth of savings; one-third have two weeks or less.

Approving good plans and failing to implement them is also true in Canada. With the release of Opportunity for All in August 2018, followed by the introduction of the Poverty Reduction Act in November 2018, the federal government has for the first time set targets for reducing poverty in Canada, defined an official poverty line, and established a framework and a process for reporting publicly on progress – in keeping with its commitment to “end poverty in all of its forms everywhere” set out in the 2030 Agenda. The report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives praises this “significant policy win”, which provides “an architecture and different mechanisms for holding governments to account for creating a society where everyone’s basic needs are assured and their active participation in community life supported”. But, at the same time, it adds, the report “does not include any new investments in the programmes needed to achieve the strategy’s stated goals”. The targets to reduce poverty by 20 percent by 2020 and by 50 percent by 2030 “lack ambition and sense of urgency”. The report values the new plan “more as a framework than a strategy to accelerate poverty reduction.

Kate McInturff passed away last July 27. Kate was a member of the Coordinating Committee of Social Watch (where she helped enormously to shape our research strategy and gender analysis) and a contributor to the Canadian national Social Watch reports of 2012, 2014 and 2016. As a Research Associate at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives she was the main author of the enormously popular "Best and Worse Places to be a Woman in Canada" report. 

The  just released Canadian federal budget for 2018 takes some positive steps forward on gender equality and science funding, but comes up short on the bold policy moves that will make a real difference —universal child care, pharmacare, health care, and tax fairness.

The government promised their citizens a budget guided by gender analysis this year, and in many ways it delivered: pay equity legislation for the public sector, ‘use it or lose it’ second parent leave, a long-awaited increase in funding to women’s organizations, and additional investments for addressing workplace harassment and funding to rape crisis centres.

Yesterday, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released their ranking of the best and worst cities to be a woman in Canada. The report, by CCPA senior researcher Kate McInturff, is now in its fourth year and provides an important snapshot of the discrimination faced by women across the country—underemployment, a persistent wage gap, and life-threatening barriers when it comes to health, personal security, and more.

It is also a wake-up call—a reminder that in the absence of meaningful government intervention, Canada’s gender gap has persisted.

New Census numbers released this week show that overall incomes have risen in the past ten years in Canada. This is excellent news. Economic growth driven by rising wages is growth we can feel, growth that translates into a better life.

However, not all Canadians are having the same experience. When you look at different parts of Canada, and different Canadians, you see some important differences. This Census release doesn’t include the differences in income and poverty experienced by racialized, indigenous, and immigrant groups. For that information, we have to wait another month. However, you can already see differences in the wages of men and women and very different levels of poverty depending on which city you live in (or if you live in a city at all).

Increasing oil and gas production while at the same time trying to reduce carbon emissions are conflicting priorities, argues a joint study by the University of Victoria, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute. The Climate Leadership Plan of the province of Alberta allows to expanding oil sands production by 53 per cent and emissions by 47 per cent above 2014 levels. To compensate and still meet Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments the rest of the Canadian economy should reduce emissions by 47 per cent by 2030. This will be virtually impossible in the time remaining barring an economic collapse.

Three new pipelines have been approved in Canada and a fourth (Energy East) is under review even though oil supply forecasts show that not all are needed. This shows, according to the study that "Canada has no energy strategy beyond liquidating its remaining non-renewable resources as fast as possible to serve the economic interests of governments of the day. What we really need is a comprehensive energy strategy that addresses both the future energy security of Canadians and Canada’s commitments on climate change".

Men and women are different. That shouldn’t be news, but today it is. Today, the government released the first federal budget that includes a look at the differences between men and women. Differences like the fact that women are twice as likely to work part-time, do more hours of unpaid care work, are less likely to qualify for Employment Insurance and are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime.

For public spending to be effective, we need policies and programs that respond to those differences. More targeted policy is more effective policy. Otherwise we could just divide up the budget by 37 million Canadians and send everyone a cheque.

As the Ontario and Quebec governments design their versions of a basic income pilot program, Canadians find themselves engaged in a policy question we haven’t grappled with in almost half a century: how should the welfare state evolve? 

At the heart of the basic income debate is a discussion about what’s required for everyone to have a basically decent life. Implicitly, it embraces a conversation about the importance of markets in that pursuit. 

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