A surplus at all costs? Balanced budget fixation hurts BC

Jan 20, 2020
Almost every year at budget time, BC governments of all stripes predict public coffers are going to be worse off than they’re likely truly expecting. This habit is usually portrayed as harmless or even prudent, but when the budget room available to us is systematically underestimated, it distorts the scope of public debate. Budget lowballing… View Article

Peace River Frack-Up

Jan 9, 2020
Part 1 of a report on how fracking poses risks to BC Hydro’s Peace River dams Read Part 2 of the report View timeline BC Hydro has known for well over a decade that its Peace Canyon dam is built on weak, unstable rock and that an earthquake triggered by a nearby natural gas industry… View Article

The Well from Hell

Jan 9, 2020
Part 2 of a report on how fracking poses risks to BC Hydro’s Peace River Dams Read Part 1 of the report View timeline BC Hydro was so worried that its Peace Canyon dam could be badly damaged if an earthquake was triggered at a nearby natural gas industry disposal well, that it briefly considered… View Article

Happy new year—no more MSP!

Jan 6, 2020
It’s a brand new year, and BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums are no more. That’s great news because MSP premiums were a very unfair tax (or “regressive” as we economists like to say). In its first budget (in 2018), the current provincial government announced it would phase out MSP premiums by 2020 and has… View Article

Virtual walk-in clinics undermine primary care

Dec 19, 2019
Despite efforts by the BC government to increase access to primary care, new developments risk making it even harder to find a doctor. BC is one of the only provinces that allows doctors to bill government for virtual phone or video visits without restrictions. This may make it more convenient to see your regular doctor, however, a… View Article

Let’s go big on building affordable non-market rental housing

Dec 11, 2019
To fully address Metro Vancouver’s housing crisis we need an ambitious build-out of 10,000 new units per year of non-market, rental housing. This includes public housing and co-ops that are truly affordable for ordinary households. New investments from the BC and federal governments point to a modest revival of public, non-market housing, but these investments… View Article

Eliminate and replace it: A better way to reform the basic personal tax amount

Dec 10, 2019
The new federal Liberal minority government has signalled that a tax cut will be its first order of policy business. That’s a shame because this tax cut will do little for those with low incomes while providing the most benefit to higher income households—and there are better ways to benefit Canadians who need the help…. View Article

An electrifying announcement leads to more questions than answers

Dec 5, 2019
In late August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to Vancouver to announce that the federal government had agreed to financially support a new hydroelectric transmission line project in British Columbia’s remote northeast region. In a memorandum of understanding signed with the provincial government, the federal government committed $83.6 million to the project, which will cover… View Article
Photo: Vancouver houses behind a fence

Property taxes in Vancouver are still too low, fueling inequality and speculation

Dec 2, 2019
We’ve heard a lot of griping recently about Vancouver’s proposed property tax increase for 2020, but missing from the debate is a reality check on the city’s extremely low tax rates. Vancouver’s property tax rate is, in fact, the lowest in North America, at just $2.56 per $1,000 in assessed value—or 0.26%. Why is Vancouver’s… View Article

Canada Pension Plan fuels climate crisis

Nov 21, 2019
“Financial experts say millennials will have to save an entire planet to retire,” says the satirical Beaverton. This is funny because it’s true. Less humorously, many pensions designed for retirement security are contributing to the climate emergency with their investments. Such is the case with the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), one of our country’s largest… View Article

Inquiry needed into gig work in BC

Nov 14, 2019
The BC government recently decided to permit the operation ride-hailing services, which are scheduled to begin before the end of the year. Other services, like the delivery of restaurant meals, use similar systems to dispatch workers. Yet the provincial government has yet to address a crucial element of this system—the rights and protections of workers… View Article

BC Government Fossil Fuel Subsidy Data Finally Public

Nov 13, 2019
For more than two years, the British Columbia government has vigorously fought efforts to compel the release of information on the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies that it doles out to fossil fuel companies each year. It has either refused outright to release documents or it has handed over pages of essentially worthless… View Article

Canada’s fossil fuel lobby influences policy and decisions for major federal government projects

Nov 8, 2019
There’s no doubt that climate change and fossil fuel extraction were vote determining for significant sections of the population in the federal election. These issues dominated the federal leaders’ debates and since September we’ve seen hundreds of thousands across the country join student-led climate strikes demanding more robust climate action. Such demands are likely to… View Article

2019 Rosenbluth Lecture Recap: David Green on Basic Income

Oct 29, 2019
David Green, Professor at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia and Research Associate with the CCPA-BC, gave the eighth annual Rosenbluth lecture on October 3, 2019. David is heading up the BC government’s panel on basic income. His lecture was followed by three discussants who offered perspectives on David’s talk:… View Article

Federal election: What’s in it for BC?

Oct 17, 2019
Let’s step back from the national big picture for a moment and take a look at some key issues that matter for BC. Many issues in our province need a response from the federal government whether due to jurisdiction or funding capacity. I point to where parties have so far made commitments, but in some… View Article

BC should think twice before opening its doors to multinational ride-hailing corporations

Oct 7, 2019
Last year, the BC government introduced legislation expected to bring ride-hailing to the province, but many questions remain about what that will look like in practice. One of the bodies responsible for working out the policy details is BC’s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB), an independent tribunal that has been handling passenger transport license applications from… View Article

Plotting a course to net zero? Climate and energy policy in the 2019 election

Oct 1, 2019
Canadians recently hit the streets in the middle of the federal election campaign to demand climate action. Many past Canadian governments have set emission targets, then failed to deliver meaningful policies to reach those targets, all the while patting themselves on the back for their leadership. The stakes are high, so where do the major… View Article

Housing platforms in the 2019 federal election

Sep 26, 2019
Across the country, the lack of affordable housing is a top of mind concern for most Canadians in 2019. The run-up in housing prices in recent years has pushed home ownership out of reach for many. And, the combination of households staying longer in rental housing—and little new rental housing being built—has led to low… View Article

Yep, it’s gouging: What we learned from the BCUC gas prices inquiry and what’s next

Sep 20, 2019
The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) inquiry into gas prices delivered its bombshell final report on August 30. Among its key findings: at least 13 cents per litre of the higher gas prices at the pump over the past couple years is “unexplained” relative to what one would expect from a functioning competitive market. This is… View Article

This Labour Day, fruit pickers in BC may have been denied minimum wage

Sep 3, 2019
While many British Columbians and visitors may have enjoyed late summer produce like apples, peaches and plums this Labour Day weekend, the workers who pick these crops generally do not receive statutory holiday pay and many work for less than minimum wage. The laws that govern conditions for agricultural workers make them vulnerable and exploitable,… View Article