Saturday, December 10, 2016

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne points out the significance of even central bankers like Mark Carney recognizing the desperate need to combat inequality. And Iglika Ivanova discusses how British Columbia's election-year surplus represents a wasted opportunity to start addressing the social problems which the Libs have been exacerbating for a decade and a half:
More than half of British Columbians surveyed in a recent poll reported they were living paycheque to paycheque, and household debt is at record highs. Unemployment is on the rise outside the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, where most job creation has been concentrated. Seniors who don’t own their own homes are living in fear of rent increases and renovictions. Over 100,000 British Columbians needed the help of food banks this year, up 3.4% from 2015. Child poverty remains stubbornly high with toxic effects on children’s health and well-being. And, our public schools are underfunded and lack the resources to properly support students with special needs.

We wouldn’t celebrate the financial management skills of parents who ended the month with money in the bank after sending their children to bed hungry. A large government surplus is much the same, and it is unconscionable given the number of people in need in our province. BC’s surplus is a wasted opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children growing up in poverty, people on disability benefits who are forced to choose between a bus pass and groceries or frail seniors who can’t access home support services and end up in hospital instead.

Instead of tackling poverty and investing in education from early childhood onwards, the BC government has earmarked $1 billion of this year’s surplus to pay down the public debt faster, and another $400 million for the so-called ‘Prosperity Fund’ that was supposed to be filled with revenues from LNG, which haven’t materialized.
Social infrastructure is the foundation upon which our economy is built. The research is clear: a healthy society is more productive, and a more-equal society is healthier and better educated. We need the talents, creativity and experience of all British Columbians to build the kind of province we all want to live in.
- Gary Bloch expands on his analysis as to how we'd all be better off in a society which eradicated poverty. And Dan Kopf points out new research showing that cash transfers to poor people tend to lead to far healthier lifestyles for the recipients - including a reduction in purchases of alcohol and tobacco products.

- Guy Dauncey offers a range of solutions to Canada's housing crisis. And Sam Cooper reports on Adam Ross' study of the widespread shell ownership of Vancouver real estate which is making it difficult to manage the housing market.

- Robin Whitaker makes the case for the Libs to keep their promise of electoral reform by delivering a system of proportional representation. Plenty of Star readers concur in the wake of Chantal Hebert's effort to spread blame elsewhere. And Andrew Coyne weighs in on the Libs' blatantly biased survey about electoral values.

- Finally, Cheryl Stadnichuk notes that Brad Wall's health care privatization is undermining universal access to care, while doing nothing to improve the province's cost picture due to the predictable loss of federal funding for pay-for-play services. 


  1. On the shell ownership and whatnot, I have a suggestion for governments: If a taxation agency cannot figure out who owns an asset they're trying to tax, the government owns it. Betcha people would get a lot more transparent real fast.

    1. Yes, that would work wonders on the revenue collection side. (And as an added bonus, it could manage the threat of trade agreement claims by ensuring the government knows who does and doesn't have standing for any challenge.)