Climate policy: contradiction #1

Feb 4, 2009
I don’t know if BC’s current approach to climate change is ironic, paradoxical, or just plain crazy, but whatever it is, it is desperately in need of revision. As it stands, existing policies virtually negate each other. It is even possible that overall, they make the problem worse. Consider BC’s contentious “carbon tax”. However meager… View Article

BC blinks on running a deficit

Feb 2, 2009
Now that the federal budget is over, I’ve been girding myself for the Feb 17 BC budget. My concern to date has been bold statements from both parties that they would never run a deficit, and that therefore we were in for a rerun of last Fall’s federal election where all parties kowtowed to the… View Article

Low income leads to poorer mental health

Feb 2, 2009
Statistics Canada recently published an interesting study on the relationship between low income and poor mental health. The paper, titled “Income and Psychological Distress: the Role of the Social Environment,” provides yet another reason for us to invest in a bold poverty-reduction plan. A large body of research has focused on the poorer physical health… View Article

Time to Pee on P3’s

Feb 1, 2009
Maybe it’s the Baja sun; perhaps it’s the tequila I’ve been forced to drink down here. But I just cannot understand the Vancouver Sun’s angst about the province financing one-third ($750 million) of the Port Mann project. The simple fact of the matter is that provincial government financing will reduce the tolls and/or taxes required… View Article

Chaoulli II?

Jan 30, 2009
So private surgical clinics, led by Brian Day, are suing the BC government so they can charge patients for services that they, the patients, already pay for through their taxes. What a surprise. Dr Day (aka Dr Profit) unveiled the lawsuit at a news conference on Wednesday at the Plaza 500 in Vancouver. I’d love… View Article

The utter stupidity of P3s in BC

Jan 30, 2009
For the “we told you so” file. The BC government has been insisting on P3s (so-called “public-private partnerships” where the private sector builds and operates infrastructure) all over the province. We at the CCPA have consistently argued that this practice is foolish: more complicated, more expensive, and leaving taxpayers holding the bag if anything bad… View Article

Forensic auditors say P3s expensive, biased and secret

Jan 29, 2009
So who are you going to believe about public private partnerships (P3s)? One side of the debate says they’re swell. They save money for taxpayers, they come in on budget and they transfer risk from governments to companies. But other people say details are kept secret from the public and that in fact they cost… View Article

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

Poverty reduction: the time is now

Jan 25, 2009
There is a growing chorus calling for a BC poverty reduction plan, calling for commitments to this from all political parties ahead of the May election. But some say, given the economic downturn, we can no longer afford to commit to a bold plan now. On the contrary, now is precisely when such a plan… View Article

Infrastructure – more than just ‘guy jobs’

Jan 21, 2009
Now that almost everyone seems to agree that public spending on infrastructure is a good idea – it’s time for another paradigm shift. Across the political continuum,  infrastructure talk is still all about roads, bridges, and transit – sectors that overwhelmingly employ men. But, to stimulate the economy, surely we need to invest in both social and physical infrastructure. Lets take… View Article