In 2007, CCPA-BC economist Marc Lee studied tax incidence in Canada and discovered that our tax system had become an inverted u-shape, with middle-income Canadians paying the highest proportion of their income in taxes and the richest Canadians paying the lowest proportion of their income in taxes.
Yesterday, CCPA-BC released an even more disturbing report – a study of tax incidence in BC reveals that the tax system in BC is downright regressive. Not only does the richest 20% of British Columbians pay the smallest proportion of their income in tax, but the poor pay the highest! This shift has taken place over the last decade as the province has cut income taxes (which are still modestly progressive) and increasingly relied on regressive sales taxes. Read more »
In this week’s web feature, I highlight the increased spending on prisons, noting that in terms of effectiveness, we’d be better off investing in cheaper approaches such as crime prevention and restorative justice. In choosing to put more people in prison for longer periods, Canada is emulating our neighbour to the south, which has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. But just as we are moving in this direction, some US states are starting to back away from it. Their primary motivation? They just can’t afford to be “tough on crime” any longer.
One in 100 adults in the US is now in county jail, state or federal prison, compared to 1 in 400 in the 1970s. This incarceration boom had a significant impact on prison budgets – according to a study by the Pew Center on the States, 1 in every 15 state dollars is now going to corrections. In 1987, the 50 states spent $10.6 billion of their general funds on corrections; but 2007, they were spending $44 billion, an increase of 127% when adjusted for inflation. Read more »
By Chandra Pasma | Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 - 10:13AM
When I was expecting my daughter, I was asked on more than one occasion if I had put my name on a list for childcare yet. Here in Ottawa, the waiting lists for some childcare centres can be more than a year – requiring parents who need childcare to signup before their child is even born. Parents who can’t afford the fees (which for young children can outstrip university tuition!) can wait even longer for a subsidized childcare space.
Meanwhile, just across the river in Gatineau, all parents have access to $7 a day childcare. Approximately 50% of children under 5 receive this care, which can take place in many different settings from home-based care to a regulated daycare centre. While other Canadians gaze jealously in the direction of Quebec, the argument is often made that a government-funded childcare program is expensive and unwieldy and doesn’t facilitate “true choice.” Read more »
The government’s “tough on crime” agenda requires a major increase in spending to house more prisoners for longer periods of time. Spending more on prisons might seem worthwhile if we were confronting a major surge in crime or if greater imprisonment had a significant impact in driving crime rates down but in fact, the opposite is true. Increasing incarceration is also troubling from a public justice perspective, since it has a negative impact on individuals, families and communities. Investing in people rather than prisons would be a wiser, more effective choice. Read more »
Don Drummond had a bit of a strange op-ed in the Toronto Star on Sunday. On the one hand, he acknowledged the debate over the option of corporate tax cuts and called for the impact of cuts to be monitored so that we know whether or not they are actually delivering on their goals. On the other, he reviewed and dismissed all of the arguments against corporate tax cuts as negligible. Read more »
On November 12, 2010 the Government of Canada officially endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This was a positive step given that Canada was one of four countries to vote against the UNDRIP when it was first adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007. The endorsement was greeted with enthusiasm by Aboriginal and civil society groups across Canada. This endorsement, however, is only the first step towards right relations. Will Canada rise to the challenge? Read more »
On June 6, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced a new 2011 Budget. (The March Budget was not adopted before the government was defeated in the House of Commons). The June Budget only contained two new provisions: the elimination of the subsidies for political parties and a $2.2 billion transfer to Quebec in support of tax harmonization. Because the June Budget is essentially the same as the March Budget, we re-offer here our commentary on the March Budget. Read more »
Here for all Canadians was the title of the government’s Speech from the Throne as the 41st Parliament embarked on its spring session. The Speech offered a cautious, respectful tone that suggests that the new Conservative majority government recognizes that it must govern for all Canadians. While making some promising statements on Aboriginal issues and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors, it offered little to those hoping to see action on poverty and climate change. Read more »
My mother-in-law passed me Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges, saying “You just have to read this one.” The next day, before I had even had the chance to crack the covers, Bob Goudzwaard referenced the book twice in his AGM speech, calling it “a most excellent little book.” With two such ringing endorsements, I could hardly put off reading the book. And having done so, I would echo Bob Goudzwaard: it is indeed a most excellent book.
Empire of Illusion is a stinging indictment of our celebrity-obsessed, narcissistic culture that has lost sight of how the values we preach have been perverted and replaced with consumerism, corporatism and militarism. Hedges laments the state of democracy, the power of corporations and the wealthy, the growing class divide, the unwillingness or inability of our elites to stop the slide, and the illiteracy and obsession with illusion over reality that prevent most of us from identifying the problems. Read more »