The wrong kind of stimulus

Mar 13, 2009
I am a big fan of stimulus packages for our ailing economy. But my pitch has been that we need to use the occasion to retrofit our economy to be on a more sustainable footing. So it matters a great deal on what we spend those stimulus dollars. If we launch projects that take us… View Article

Beggar-thy-neighbour politics in Metro Vancouver

Mar 13, 2009
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts made the news this week calling for property-tax-free zones in Surrey to attract new business to her city. Of course, in a climate where businesses are not making new investments, this will at best lure businesses from other parts of Metro Vancouver. Economists call these beggar-thy-neighbour policies because you can only… View Article

BC unemployment rate surges to 6.7% (updated)

Mar 13, 2009
The hurt is on. After jumping to 6.1% in January, the ranks of BC’s unemployed swelled by 14,200 in February, pushing the unemployment rate to 6.7%, its highest level in five years. Given that February is the shortest month of the year, one can only imagine how bad things would have gotten had it been… View Article

Following the money in BC communities

Mar 12, 2009
It is one of those publications that few media outlets will report on, and even fewer British Columbians will read, but BC Stats just released the latest version of its Local Area Economic Dependencies, updated based on 2006 census data. This publication basically asks where the income in various BC communities comes from. In many… View Article

Bioenergy – Catching on like a house on fire or set for slow burn?

Mar 11, 2009
As the global economic meltdown and in particular the US housing market collapse continues to savage BC lumber producers, government leaders boldly predict that wood-fired energy – “bioenergy” – will ride to the rescue of a shell-shocked industry and brutalized rural, resource towns dealing with soaring unemployment rates. February’s Speech from the Throne is a… View Article

UN raps our housing record

Mar 11, 2009
In mid February, a report was released that received very little attention, but should have: The report of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing’s Mission to Canada (hat tip to Jean Swanson for drawing the final report to my attention; it can be found here; just scroll down to the “Mission to Canada”.) The… View Article

New CCPA study finds growing inequality and declining family incomes in BC

Mar 11, 2009
Yesterday the CCPA released a new study on family income inequality in BC by yours truly, which reveals some disturbing statistics about family incomes over the past 30 years. Among our other key findings: The gap between the wealthiest and the majority of BC families has grown dramatically over the past 30 years. The share… View Article

First Nations as forest partners may be Roundtable’s most significant recommendation

Mar 10, 2009
There’s plenty to be concerned about with the recommendations emanating from the Working Roundtable on Forestry – an open door for raw log exports, diminished corporate taxes for cash-strapped rural municipalities, and a steady creep toward de facto privatization of some public forestlands. And in coming postings I’ll speak more about what’s on the negative… View Article

My “Universal Child Care Benefit” has evaporated to a parallel universe

Mar 9, 2009
I just got a letter from my daughter’s daycare that her monthly fees are going up again next month. They will now be $700. When she started at the daycare two and a half years ago, they were $600. So much for the Harper government’s much touted $100 per month child care benefit. Recall that… View Article

Nailing down homeless targets

Mar 9, 2009
Kudos to BC’s Auditor General for his report on homelessness last week. John Doyle’s report raised numerous concerns, including that the provincial government lacks solid numbers on how many homeless people there are in BC, who they are, and most importantly, he found that the province does not have a clear and comprehensive action plan,… View Article

Pining for some straight talk

Mar 6, 2009
BC Forests Minister Pat Bell grabbed plenty of headlines this week when he said that the threats posed to resource communities by the mountain pine beetle infestation may be overstated. Stories about a rapid deterioration in the quality of trees attacked by the beetles, Bell suggested, are wrong. In fact, the minister said, he expects… View Article

IWD commitments on my wish list

Mar 5, 2009
With International Women’s Day on the horizon this weekend, I’m looking for some commitments. Women are over-represented in low-wage work. So which party in the upcoming election will commit to an investment in BC’s social capital through a living wage policy for the public sector, including public contractors? Stimulating the local economy and adding to… View Article

And Another Thing About the Port Mann non-P3

Mar 4, 2009
Now that the government has abandoned private financing of the Port Mann, it’s time to make the bigger but equally sensible leap and abandon the concept of a cost recovery project toll. I’m all for tolling. Unless you are a fan of the queues inevitably created by what can only be described as our current… View Article

The Lawsuit

Mar 4, 2009
The Lawsuit A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Brian Day and his followers had launched a lawsuit against the province, alleging that, “in contravention of the value of individual choice,” the Medicare Protection Act restricts or prohibits patients from “accessing the private health care of their choice”. Day & Co. brazenly admit in… View Article

Memo to Colin Hansen: Time for forest industry reality check

Mar 2, 2009
If Finance Minister Colin Hansen’s budget forecasts are right, British Columbia’s battered forest industry is in for a modest recovery this coming fiscal year and a more robust recovery in 2010/2011. Gian Sandhu isn’t buying it. Owner of the Jackpine Group of Companies in Williams Lake, Sandhu was a leading light in British Columbia’s interior… View Article

Cancelled P3 saves $200 million

Feb 27, 2009
Wow. Things can change pretty quickly in a day. Apparently the Port Mann Bridge P3 was just too ridiculous. Jeff Nagel already has a very interesting article in the Surrey Leader on the cancellation of the public private partnership. He includes the following quote from the Partnerships BC boss Larry Blain. Critics have long said… View Article

Death of a P3

Feb 27, 2009
And so the P3 financing deal for the Port Mann Super-Bridge died, conveniently right when it will get the least media coverage. Here’s the breaking news from the Sun: The province has been unable to reach a finance-arranging deal with the consortium that was to build the new Port Mann Bridge, transportation Minister Kevin Falcon… View Article

Behind the dramatic drop in the budget of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts

Feb 27, 2009
Budget commentators across the province (including Marc Lee on this blog) noted the lack of drastic spending cuts to government programs. While there were some cuts to the budgets of particular ministries, such as Aboriginals Relations and Reconciliation, Community Development and Finance, most of those did not seem debilitating (see Table 1.4 on p. 11… View Article

Axing the Forest Service: The Cuts Continue

Feb 27, 2009
Well it looks like they’re getting ready to wield the axe yet again at the Ministry of Forests, and that the latest victims will join a long list of their sisters and brothers whose jobs were to protect the public interest and ensure that our publicly owned forests were responsibly managed. In its latest annual… View Article

P3s? Fairly ridiculous

Feb 27, 2009
They keep moving the goal posts for using public private partnerships (P3s) in BC to procure large projects. Government officials have argued in the past that the magic bullet for P3s was the combination of risk transfer and private investment. The government transferred risk to the private sector and private companies risked losing their investment… View Article