Canada

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. 

Canada's newly-elected federal Liberal government has committed to working towards achieving the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda “both at home and abroad.” However, the Government inherits a country that has been profoundly shaped by the conservative economic and social policies of the past decade. The new government will have to overcome the challenges posed by a much-diminished federal government, social and income inequality, and an economy based on growing wealth rather than wages in order to deliver on its commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In sharp contrast to the previous federal Conservative government, the current government has committed itself to resumed deficit spending. However, even with the increases seen in their first budget, federal programme spending remains at a historic low. Today, federal programme spending as a share of the economy stands at 13 percent of GDP, its lowest point in the past 60 years.

Canada’s newly-elected federal Liberal government has committed to working towards achieving the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda “both at home and abroad.” However, the government inherits a country that has been profoundly shaped by the conservative economic and social policies of the past decade. The new government will have to overcome the challenges posed by a much-diminished federal government, social and income inequality, and an economy based on growing wealth rather than wages in order to deliver on its commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) launches the report "Shameful Neglect: Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada".

The report  calculates child poverty rates in Canada, and includes the rates on reserves and in territories—something never before examined. The report also disaggregates the statistics and identifies three tiers of poverty for children in Canada, finding the worst poverty experienced by status First Nation children (51%, rising to 60% for children on reserve). The second tier encompasses other Indigenous children and disadvantaged groups (ranging from 22-32%), and the third tier consists of children who are non-Indigenous, non-racialized and non-immigrant, where the rate of 13% is similar to the OECD average.

The study Making Women Count. The Unequal Economics of Women’s Work, looks at how women in Canada and around the world are affected by rising inequality, including the burden of unpaid work, the undervaluing of work in predominantly female fields, and the unspoken social norms that see men offered higher wages and rates of promotion than women. Women make up some of the poorest and lowest paid workers in the global economy. And, as the report shows, women are doing more and more work to grow countries’ economies without seeing equal benefits.

The study offers a number of solutions to help make women count, including a shift towards policies that support better wages and access to employment for women, better financial support of public services - like health and child care – to reduce the care burden on women, and a greater focus by governments to prioritize women’s rights.

During the 2015 federal election campaign, the Liberal party campaigned vigorously on a promise to tackle inequality and substantially reduce child poverty. Proposals such as the Canada Child Benefit and 10% increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low-income seniors are certainly steps in the right direction.

However, the fight to eliminate poverty and inequality is far from over. These proposals in and of themselves are inadequate to accomplishing the task. This paper, which expands upon a chapter on poverty and inequality in the upcoming 2016 Alternative Federal Budget, proposes the terms of a comprehensive federal poverty reduction plan. If the government is serious about its campaign pledge to bring real economic opportunities to more people, the practical and affordable policy tools outlined here will take them some way toward that goal.

Simmering conflicts in higher education have reached the boiling point across Canada and around the globe. Teach-ins, occupations, strikes, and mass protests are being mobilized against exorbitant tuition fees, declining educational quality, mismanagement, the commodification of research, and the suppression of free speech and critical inquiry. A Penny For Your Thoughts, a new book from CCPA's Education Project, shows how Canadian higher education has come to this point.

Through 17 real time studies, it tracks how the deteriorating condition of postsecondary education is rooted in corporatization, the process through which universities and colleges increasingly work for, with, and as businesses. The book’s central message is that the current state of Canadian universities is neither natural nor inevitable: it is the outcome of choices, policies, and actions that can be unmade and undone. Authors Claire Polster and Janice Newson do not prescribe easy recipes for achieving this. Instead, they help citizens to arrive at their own understandings of corporatization and to identify where and how they can intervene strategically in their local universities and communities to reverse its effects. By so doing, Canadians can reclaim their universities as public-serving institutions that realize their highest aspirations and meet their own, their fellow citizens’, and the global community’s most pressing needs.

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