Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday Morning Links

Assorted material to end your week.

- Nick Falvo writes that artificially low taxes at the expense of Saskatchewan's well-being are nothing to brag about:
(T)axes can help finance important social spending, such as poverty in First Nations’ communities, affordable housing and child care. The province’s on-reserve rate of child poverty is nearly 70 per cent, second highest in the country after Manitoba.
Second, taxes share the wealth, making a province more equitable. Increasing personal income tax rates can be especially effective at reducing income inequality. Yet, Saskatchewan’s top marginal tax rate is the lowest among all Canadian provinces, meaning its personal income taxes are the least effective in Canada at redistributing income.

Third, taxes can discourage undesirable behaviour, such as excessive consumption of energy, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. France tripled cigarette prices by raising taxes every year between 1990 and 2005. During this time, cigarette consumption in that country was cut in half.
Finally, taxes can reduce public debt. Saskatchewan’s public debt-to-GDP ratio currently sits at 25.8 per cent and is expected to hit 27.6 per cent by 2023.

And where do Saskatchewan taxes as a whole currently stand in comparison with other provinces? A recent report found Saskatchewan to have Canada’s lowest tax rate as a percentage of GDP, at just 27.1 per cent. Meanwhile, Quebec’s stood at 37.3 per cent. And therein lies thick irony: Premier Moe attributes Quebec’s more generous social programs to equalization, rather than to higher tax rates.

This should all make us all pause for thought. Do we want to pay low taxes if it means more poverty in First Nations’ communities, more homelessness and insufficient child care? For most residents of Saskatchewan, I think the answer is no.
- Murtada Haizer and Steven Moranis write that public investment in social housing produces substantial social and economic returns beyond the initial sticker price. And Chris Arsenault points out the need to update our infrastructure to account for climate change. 

- Karl Nerenberg calls out Justin Trudeau for his choice to legitimize the Cons' anti-refugee messaging. And Robyn Urback points out the lack of any factual basis to treat the number of asylum claimants in Canada as a problem at all.

- Finally, Erica Johnson and Ensa Uda expose the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's willingness to let banks rewrite a report into their own exploitation of consumers. Jen St. Denis reports on the lack of any RCMP resources being used to investigate money laundering in British Columbia. And the Canadian Press reports on the Libs' continued delays in establishing even a toothless ombudsperson to review the actions of Canadian corporations abroad.

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