Thursday, April 04, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- John Greenwood and CBC News both report on the offshore tax avoidance being revealed through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. And Susan Lunn observes that Canada's federal parties are all at least paying lip service to the issue - though of course the Cons' cuts to tax enforcement speak louder than their spin.

- Meanwhile, Paul McLeod notes that income inequality will also receive at least some much-needed attention in Parliament. And Danyaal Raza's discussion of the damage done to public health by inequality looks to offer one important point worth studying:
Not only are we falling behind when compared to our past selves, but also when compared to other high-income countries. For example, in the case of income inequality and child wellbeing, we are stuck in the mediocre middle behind countries like Denmark, Spain, Finland and Belgium. The same pattern is repeated for mental health, obesity, drug abuse and a multitude of other health ills.

In the United Kingdom, where research first established the link between income inequality and health, the issue has received cross-partisan support. In 2009, Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party acknowledged that “among the richest countries, it’s the more unequal ones that do worse according to almost every quality of life indicator,” while the Labour Party’s Ed Milliband stated, “The gap between rich and poor does matter. It doesn’t just harm the poor, it harms us all.

Here at home, Canadians mirror such cross-partisan support. A recent Broadbent Institute study found that 58% of Conservative supporters, 71% of New Democrats and 72% of Liberals are all willing to pay more to protect social programs and make reducing income inequality a higher priority.

As a family doctor who sees the impacts of these public policies on the front lines, I find myself nodding in agreement to these sentiments and calls to action. While there are some clinical interventions I can use to address income and health, systemic policy change will be the ultimate lever of change. It is time for both federal and provincial governments to raise additional revenue from those most able to afford it in order to support social programs that help redistribute income and provide immediate health benefits for all people in Canada. In the face of mounting evidence of this growing problem and its consequences for our health and the health of our patients, our governments can no longer sit on their hands. The time for leadership on this issue has come.
- Pat Atkinson notes that the hidden effects of the Cons' budget include an attack on small credit unions.

- Finally, I'm fairly sure this was the headline the Alberta PCs wanted in order to change the narrative about the Cons' environmental neglect. But there's still ample reason for skepticism about a system based entirely on "intensity" targets rather than real ones - retaining the possibility that the tar sands can continue to ramp up their greenhouse gas emissions without paying a dime (or even collect credits for doing so).


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