Housing Solutions

Jan 2, 2010
Just wanted to give our blog readers a plug for an excellent collection on housing solutions. Some of you have likely been following the Tyee’s excellent series of articles on housing and homelessness, written by Monte Paulsen. Now the Tyee has put that whole series together in a single pdf collection. You can find it… View Article

Scrooge is alive and well

Dec 29, 2009
In a Vancouver Sun article (Market wages would make a difference to city’s taxes, December 28, 2009) Philip Hochstein argues Vancouver civic workers who make a living wage should be made to suffer the fate of those in the private sector whose employers get away with paying under $15 an hour for labouring, or $10-15 an hour… View Article

When $300,000 isn’t enough

Dec 21, 2009
I heard today that the Fraser Health Authority is giving its CEO Nigel Murray a $30,000 bonus on top of his $300,000 annual salary.  Put that up against the cuts the Authority is making to services for addicted youth and seniors, among others.   Remember that hospital housekeeping workers, who are the first line of defense… View Article

Ho Ho Ho. Help!

Dec 18, 2009
Are you worried about a last minute gift for one of your progressive friends?  Me too.  So I have a proposal that might help both of us.  I am going to suggest a new book you might find interesting in the hopes that you will take advantage of the comment section at the end of… View Article

Healthy eating put out of reach for the poor

Dec 16, 2009
Remember the Premier’s “Great Golden Goal” (G3?) about healthy eating? True, we don’t  hear so much about it these days. But it was a laudable goal. Eating a healthy diet is important if we are to improve the overall health of the population, and thereby help to slow rising health care costs. And it’s particularly… View Article

HST And Family Budgets

Dec 15, 2009
A recent report from the CCPA national office analyzed the impact of tax harmonization on family budgets in Ontario.  Not a Tax Grab After All: A Second Look at Ontario’s HST made a splash with its finding that the introduction of HST will be largely a wash for Ontario families, as most households would be… View Article

Copenhagen and carbon budgets

Dec 14, 2009
As Copenhagen heads into week two, most of the talk has shifted to targets and timelines, typically something like X% of emissions by 2020 or 2050, relative to 1990 levels. This dating is a legacy of the German delegation in the lead-up to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, who wanted a base year of 1990… View Article

AG’s office changes policy

Dec 9, 2009
BC’s Auditor General has made an important change in the way his office does its work that will help guarantee the independence of his office. In the past, part of the money that paid for the operation of the AG’s Office came from providing contracted services to organizations like crown corporations and other agencies outside… View Article

Poverty and BC’s high cost of housing

Dec 7, 2009
BC Stats put out a release on poverty lines as they relate to BC, with an important finding: BC’s dubious position as having the highest poverty rates in Canada may in fact be worse than the statistics show. This finding is buried in the piece and the title, “Low Income Cut-Offs a Poor Measure of… View Article

Every revolution is about power

Dec 3, 2009
So what does a sustainable economy really look like, and how do we get there? Climate change essentially means a huge mitigation effort on greenhouse gases culminating in something close to zero emissions by mid-century at the latest. This means phasing out fossil fuels entirely; or minimally, if it comes out of the ground emissions… View Article

Vancouver City Budget Woes: Are the Cuts Really Necessary?

Dec 3, 2009
In this round of municipal budgeting, the city of Vancouver finds itself in exactly the same predicament as the federal and provincial governments faced earlier in the year – projected revenues would not be sufficient to meet their rising expenditures. The big difference is that municipal governments are prohibited by law from running a deficit…. View Article

Technology and the future of public health care

Dec 2, 2009
A couple years ago I put out a report for the CCPA that crunched the numbers on health care sustainability (BC version here). The main finding was that public health care was basically sustainable in that it could handle projected increases in population, aging and inflation as long as GDP continued to grow at a… View Article

How high should the minimum wage be?

Dec 1, 2009
At the BC NDP convention over the weekend, Carole James reiterated calls for a $10 an hour minimum wage. While $10 an hour would certainly be better than the current $8 an hour (lowest in the country), I’m concerned that this campaign is stuck on a round number not what is adequate for improving the… View Article

And the Question is???

Nov 23, 2009
The recently announced Green Energy Task Force reminds me of a story that soft energy path guru Amory Lovins liked to tell. It was about this billboard  pronouncing, in giant, biblically bold print, that Jesus is the Answer. Someone, a shameless heathen no doubt, innocently scrawled underneath: but what is the question? So it is… View Article

Food Bank use takes a distressing jump

Nov 19, 2009
On Tuesday, Food Banks Canada (the national association of food banks) released its annual Hunger Count report. While the report received some good national coverage (particularly on CBC), I was surprised to see no mention of it in the Vancouver Sun. The report, which surveys food banks across the country every March, found that in… View Article

Public or private – how the choice for P3s gets made

Nov 14, 2009
Did you ever wonder how Partnerships BC justifies using 35 year contracts for public private partnerships rather than borrowing the money publicly and doing things like hospitals and roads as public projects? Well now you can find out.  PBC has published its methodology on a website.  They have even asked for comments on the methodology,… View Article

Risky Business

Nov 12, 2009
The government’s recent rejection of the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) decision on the Burrard Thermal power plant had nothing to do with the operations and GHG or other emissions at Burrard.  BC Hydro freely admits it is business as usual with Burrard. It will operate the plant as it has in the past — to… View Article

On minimum wages and talk radio

Nov 6, 2009
Today marks the third time in the past four months that I get booted off a pre-arranged radio interview on minimum wages in BC. What is it about this topic that the universe doesn’t want me to say on live radio? I mean, I try not to be superstitious, but the string of coincidences is… View Article

2010 and all that

Nov 5, 2009
It is a basic principle in economics that estimates of employment and GDP impacts in themselves tell us nothing about the benefits and costs of government initiatives. Government spending creates jobs. More spending creates more jobs. But whether that is in the public interest raises very different questions. Will the job creation employ people who… View Article

You Don’t Have to Sell BC Hydro to Give it Away

Nov 3, 2009
I recently told a right wing friend of mine that this is the worst government British Columbia has had in a very long time. I said that not because of its political orientation and values that time and again favour the interests of the wealthy over the less fortunate in a rather shameless way. I… View Article