Green in a Different Sense

Oct 2, 2009
It is all about marketing I suppose, but I still can’t believe the proponents of the Highway 37 Northwest electric transmission line labelling it a green initiative. The only thing green about it is all the money BC Hydro will lose if it goes ahead. The proponents’ spin is that this transmission line will enable… View Article

Will job creation solve our poverty problems?

Sep 28, 2009
You may recall that during the leaders’ debate prior to last May’s election, Gordon Campbell argued that creating jobs is the best poverty reduction strategy out there. Since his re-election, the government’s attention has been focused on the economy, while social policy has taken a back seat. But is this the best approach? A recent… View Article

Poltergeists and P3s: They’re back

Sep 24, 2009
In February, with the spectacular collapse of the $3 billion Port Mann Bridge public private partnership, many people thought P3s in British Columbia were a dead item.  They’re back. With the Fort St. John Hospital project the government’s privatization agency, Partnerships BC (PBC), has found a way to drastically reduce private investment in P3s while… View Article

Droppin’ some HST

Sep 24, 2009
The province-wide revolt over BC’s looming Harmonized Sales Tax is reminiscent of protests a generation ago when the HST’s federal parent, the Goods and Services Tax, was born. The rationale for that shift was similar to that of the HST: to switch from an invisible tax paid by producers (the Manufacturers’ Sales Tax) that was… View Article

The recent secretive, haphazard spending cuts should be repealed

Sep 23, 2009
Almost daily we wake up to news of yet another important program or initiative whose funding has been cut by the BC government. Literacy initiatives, high school sports, programs that protect women and children from violence, arts and culture: hardly an area of social service provision has been spared. These cuts have been devastating to… View Article

Piecing together the puzzle: help us track BC government cuts

Sep 17, 2009
Since winning the May election, the provincial government has been steadily cutting public services, often without any public announcement. These cuts affect services ranging from the arts to seniors’ care to public schools. They will be particularly hard on the most vulnerable members of our society. In the absence of comprehensive information from the provincial… View Article

What should our government be spending money on?

Sep 16, 2009
One question that is missing from the public debate on deficits and debt is whether we’re getting the best bang for the stimulus buck. Even if we accept that it’s appropriate for governments to borrow and engage in deficit-financing during a recession, as I have argued here, we need to have a discussion about the… View Article

That sinking feeling: BC’s forests and CO2 emissions

Sep 15, 2009
As everyone knows, BC has a lot of trees. From a climate change perspective the nice thing about trees (forests, really) is that they suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. In the jargon, forests are a “sink”, reducing CO2 emissions, rather than a “source” that contributes them. At least, that used to be the… View Article

Putting our government debt in perspective (now with graphs)

Sep 15, 2009
It turns out that our province is in a good fiscal position to engage in deficit-financing at this time. BC’s debt-to GDP ratio has been decreasing since 2002, which means that out government debt fell relative to our collective ability to pay. As a result, BC entered the recession as one of the Canadian provinces… View Article

Should we be afraid of the government debt?

Sep 15, 2009
Governments around the world are running large deficits in order to prop up their economies and dampen the hit of the global recession. For almost a year now, economists abandoned their usual anti-deficit arguments and seemed to agree that increasing government spending to stimulate the economy is the best way forward. We were all Keynesians… View Article

Out of the Closet on Site C

Sep 14, 2009
For years, successive BC governments have forbidden any new large-scale hydro dams. When I was on the BC Hydro Board of Directors in the mid-1990s, the Board passed a motion that all government land-holdings associated with Site C should be sold. The BC Hydro Board was against building Site C, or any other large dam,… View Article

And from the department of kicking kittens……

Sep 10, 2009
Vaughn Palmer asked the Finance Minister a question in the Budget lock-up on the day of the Budget speech.  How about a list of all those programs you’re going to cut?  No can do, Finance Minister Colin Hansen replied.  You’ll just have to wait until the Public Accounts are published next year. In the Liberal… View Article

On tough times and priorities

Sep 10, 2009
The BC government cannot afford $130,000 for the budget of BC School Sports, a volunteer organization which organizes sporting events for students. This is likely to affect 100,000 high school athletes across the province whose meets and competitions will be canceled. “It’s not business as usual right now,” explained Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, quoted in… View Article

Doing the math on all-day-K

Sep 8, 2009
Amid the corner-cutting exercise that was the September BC budget, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope: actual money was alloted for the expansion of kindergarten to full day. Could it be that the BC government has finally started to get it and is planning to heed its own report on childcare (as I’ve… View Article

Teeny Budget factoid

Sep 3, 2009
It appears when it comes to the heavy lifting of cutting spending in BC, not all public agencies are equal. The February Budget documents stated that: To ensure that health services are protected in the current economic environment, the Ministry of Health Services and health authorities will be required to achieve efficiencies and administrative savings… View Article

Take Two: BC Budget 2009 September Update (Notes from Marc and Iglika)

Sep 1, 2009
The September BC Budget is a new look at a budget most have come to see as a fake. February’s budget was not passed through the legislature due to the May election, and up to E-Day the government maintained the fiction that it had a small-ish deficit of just under half a billion dollars. Since… View Article

BC’s minimum wage the lowest in Canada

Aug 31, 2009
Tomorrow, September 1, officially marks the day that BC will become the province with the lowest minimum wage in the entire country ($8 per hour). This is because New Brunswick is proceeding with their plans to increase their minimum wage to $8.25. Meanwhile, BC’s government has repeatedly refused to increase the minimum wage here, claiming… View Article

Policy Note named Blog o’ the Week by The Tyee

Aug 28, 2009
We are delighted to have been chosen as Blog of the Week by thetyee.ca: September 1 is the other New Year’s Day: The start of a new school year, and in B.C. a sort-of new government with a new (but sadly old-fashioned) budget. Time to buckle down and get back to work, class. Whether on… View Article

People don’t want cuts in government services: Ipsos-Reid

Aug 28, 2009
An Ipsos-Reid poll of 800 British Columbians indicates people would rather see a deficit than see public services slashed. The poll was conducted in early August for the BC Federation of Labour.  It shows a solid majority of British Columbians disaprove of the way the government is handling the economic downturn.  Only 45% of people… View Article

Is the recent surge in housing sales good news or bad news?

Aug 27, 2009
This morning on the Bill Good Show, where I was discussing the new CCPA budget brief, Bill asked me whether the recent activity in BC’s housing market is a sign of strong consumer confidence and a budding recovery. After all, real estate is still very expensive in our cities (even if less so than last… View Article