BC’s Carbon Tax Clash

Apr 15, 2009
With the BC election campaign now officially on, the carbon tax debate is back. Since the fall’s federal election, when the Prime Minister dropped in to beat up the carbon tax to solidify his support in BC, the carbon tax has dropped off the public radar, replaced by stories about the economic and financial crisis…. View Article

March unemployment hits women and young

Apr 10, 2009
There is an interesting side story to the information that came out last week showing a big jump in unemployment in BC. Almost all of the increase was among two groups – women and young people. The overall unemployment rate jumped from 6.7% to 7.4%. The increase for men over the age of 25 was… View Article

Unemployment surges again in March

Apr 9, 2009
Just in time for a heated election campaign, the latest unemployment numbers paint a grim picture for BC. Just a year ago, BC was coasting along with an unemployment rate of just over 4%. By the end of 2008 that had crept up to 5%. And now a truly brutal first quarter that saw the… View Article

Docs call for more attention to addiction

Apr 8, 2009
The BC Medical Association released an important report at the end of March. The Vancouver Sun gave it good coverage, but overall it didn’t get the attention it deserved. Stepping Forward: Improving Addiction Care in BC raises a lot of issues worth talking about in an election. The report estimates there are 400,000 British Columbians… View Article

Your government cares about seniors (in up to five communities across the province)

Apr 7, 2009
This is the message that the Minister of Healthy Living and Sport Mary Polak sent out yesterday with the announcement of a new partnership between the government and the United Way of the Lower Mainland. As part of this partnership, the government will spend $700,000 to fund what sounds like a broad-based community consultation with… View Article

Wishing away child poverty

Apr 3, 2009
This past week, local CTV news ran a series on child poverty called “BC’s Shame”. They’ve posted the series on their website, along with the full interview reporter Mi-Jung Lee had with Premier Campbell about child poverty. The series was very good, but the premier’s comments were disappointing. Premier Campbell spent much of the interview… View Article

A whole lotta waste goin’ on

Apr 3, 2009
Last week, research I completed for the CCPA was released suggesting that in the last five years alone the forest industry in this province has managed to leave 17.5 million cubic metres of usable wood behind at logging operations. Loaded onto logging trucks, you could fill a cross-Canada convoy just about twice with that material…. View Article

Happy April fools day. Welcome TILMA

Apr 1, 2009
As of April 1st, the people elected to run our municipalities and school boards had better think twice before they make a decision that might affect the profits of a corporation. On April 1st the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between Alberta and British Columbia comes into full force. Its implications are far… View Article

Parts of election gag law unconstitutional

Mar 27, 2009
The Judge adjudicating the case against BC’s election gag law has said that parts of Bill 42 are not constitutional. Justice Cole of the Supreme Court of British Columbia issued an oral decision today saying the third party spending limits during the 60 day period before the election writ was dropped violated Freedom of Association… View Article

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words

Mar 27, 2009
Or twenty thousand as the case may be. The CCPA published a number of major studies in recent years about BC’s unacceptably high levels of poverty and homelessness, as well as provincial welfare policies that contribute to hardship and homelessness. These issues are brought to life in a series of narrated slideshows created for the… View Article

Is the stimulus killing the P3 model?

Mar 27, 2009
While BC has not formally abandoned the P3 model, there is a notable absence of new P3 projects at a time when billions of dollars are being channeled to infrastructure spending. If P3s really provided value for money and brought the benefits of private sector efficiency and innovation to the delivery of public-sector infrastructure, then… View Article

Is funnelling money into shovel-ready projects the best strategy for infrastructure development?

Mar 27, 2009
I often get asked: “Shouldn’t we support the Olympics or the Port Mann bridge (or any of the multitude of poorly handled infrastructure projects in our province) despite their substantial cost overruns on the grounds that they will create jobs and benefit the economy?” The problem with this question is that it allows for two… View Article

BC leads country in rising EI claims

Mar 24, 2009
According to today’s Statscan release, unemployment insurance (EI) claims were up 47% in January 2009 compared to January 2008. This makes BC the leader in Canada when it comes to rising EI claims. I don’t think that was one of the Great Golden Goals. There is a lag in the EI numbers, since the most… View Article

History lessons for Carole Taylor

Mar 22, 2009
Former Finance Minister Carole Taylor was in court last week testifying in a lawsuit arising from damage to Cambie Street merchants from the Canada Line. She was sympathetic to the merchants but, “It was a TransLink project,” she said. “There’s no question the province didn’t have any control over the project.” She admitted that at… View Article

Contracting Out: Enough to make you sick

Mar 21, 2009
There is now an accumulation of evidence, both international and domestic, that contracting out is good — but only if you happen to own shares in MDS, Sodexho, LifeLabs, Compass, Aramark or any number of other piggybackers. Unfortunately, if you are merely a patient, taxpayer and/or hospital worker you are probably getting sicker, paying more… View Article

Statscan spins the recession

Mar 20, 2009
Here is the upbeat take on retail sales from Statistics Canada’s Daily: Retail sales rose 1.9% in January after decreasing 5.2% in December. Sales rose in five of the eight retail sectors, led by a 3.8% increase in the automotive sector. In volume terms, retail sales were up 1.8%. It goes on to report that… View Article

Food as a right of citizenship

Mar 19, 2009
I came across an interesting piece in YES! Magazine about a city in Brazil that took an innovative approach to poverty reduction and practically ended hunger by adopting a food-as-a-right policy. Belo Horizonte, the fourth largest city in Brazil, has a population of 2.5 million people, slightly larger than the Lower Mainland. The city grappled… View Article

Well, now that Alberta is doing it …

Mar 17, 2009
You could say that BC is more than a little sweet on Alberta. We love their individualistic, tax-cutting, tar-sanding grit. Can’t get enough of it. We even signed a silly economic agreement called TILMA (the BC-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement) so we could be more like them. If Alberta went and ran massive… View Article

BC’s minimum wage soon tied for Canada’s lowest

Mar 15, 2009
On April 15th British Columbia officially wins the race to the bottom. That is the day New Brunswick raises its minimum wage to $8.00 an hour. When that happens New Brunswick, PEI and British Columbia will be tied with the lowest minimum wage in Canada. This three-way tie won’t last for long though. On September… View Article

Social assistance caseload way up

Mar 15, 2009
In our pre-budget Reality Check, we noted that a recession would lead to upwards pressure on social assistance expenditures. The 2009 Budget notes that every 1% increase in the temporary assistance caseload increases expenditures by $3.5 million (and $7 million for the disability caseload). During a major recession it would not be unrealistic to project… View Article