Poverty reduction plan: can we afford it?

Jan 26, 2009
Perhaps the more appropriate question is: can we afford not to have one? Public policy is always about choices, and there is no excuse for poverty in a society as wealthy as ours. Consider this: the total cost of getting everyone in British Columbia currently below the poverty line (the after-tax Low Income Cut Off)… View Article

Burning down the house

Jan 25, 2009
Sometimes I see a letter to the editor that in one sentence captures the essence of what I was thinking but does it better and shorter. A Malcolm McSporran pulled that off yesterday (January 21) in the Vancouver Sun. Here is his letter. “Which is less expensive — to provide people with decent housing or… View Article

Obama opens doors closed in BC

Jan 25, 2009
One of President Barack Obama’s first acts was to reverse an order from the Bush regime that undermined Freedom of Information requests. What a contrast to the British Columbia government. In opposition Gordon Campbell was a big freedom of Information supporter. In 1998 he wrote to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association saying: The… View Article

P3s: the cubic zirconium of public projects

Jan 25, 2009
Jonathan Fowlie and Lori Gilbert did a first rate job of looking at one facet of public private partnerships (P3’s) in the January 23 Vancouver Sun. P3’s are one part of the BC government’s enthusiasm for privatization. Private companies pay for the development of public infrastructure or services and then run the projects for decades… View Article

Breaking free of the “balanced budget” chains

Jan 25, 2009
As the next provincial budget is prepared (and election platforms are written), a core reality is this: we face huge economic uncertainty, which makes forecasting very difficult. With each passing month, economists are downgrading their GDP growth forecasts, and GDP growth (or decline) is what drives provincial revenues. In the face of this uncertainty, we… View Article

Fiscal tipping points

Jan 25, 2009
Budget making is an art. An underlying reality of BC budgeting is that it takes very little to tip provincial finances from surplus to deficit and back again, mainly due to factors outside the province’s control. Recall, for example, that during the Liberal’s first mandate, they inherited a surplus, then brought down two of the… View Article