- Jordan Brennan and Kaylie Tiessen write that it's long past time to set a level of federal revenue sufficient to support the social programs Canadians want:
In the decades since [corporate-driven] reforms were undertaken, Canada experienced a significant deterioration in its macroeconomic performance: business investment has worsened and the rate of job creation and GDP growth have both decelerated. If there is no solid economic evidence to suggest that budgetary and tax reform succeeded in elevating investment levels or increasing the rate of economic growth, how are we to understand the commitment to balanced budgets and shrinking government?- Lizanne Foster highlights how any promise of future benefits from the B.C. Libs is limited to the province's wealthy few, while Douglas Todd notes that there's broad public agreement with that expectation. And Martyn Brown offers a simple but vital formula to ensure change from Christy Clark's corrupt corporatism at the polls.
The answer is, unsurprisingly, political. The Canadian welfare state grew out of the wreckage of the Great Depression. In the early postwar decades many of the federal programs that Canadians enjoy were created. As a share of GDP, budgetary revenue grew from 10 per cent in 1939 to 20 per cent by 1974 — an effective doubling of the size of the federal government during a period of exceptionally strong economic growth.
Today, after decades of proportional reductions in revenue and spending, the federal aspects of the welfare state have been significantly diminished. The political program of undoing the New Deal model of governance has largely succeeded in Canada, at least at the federal level.
But here’s the problem: cutting taxes or reducing spending will not facilitate reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples, who experience a vast funding shortfall when it comes to infrastructure, education and health care. It will do nothing to make housing more affordable in Vancouver, nor will it expedite the transition to a low-carbon economy in Alberta. A balanced budget will not ease gridlock in the GTA, nor will it provide the health care resources Atlantic Canadians require to cope with an aging population.
Perhaps that’s why, after decades of the “smaller government is better” mantra, Canadians have opened themselves up to the utility of deficit financing. The next step would be to extend the conversation into the domain of taxation, to determine what level is required to solve some of Canada’s most pressing policy challenges.
- Meanwhile, William Yardley traces British Columbia's path from being ahead of the curve on climate change to clinging to fossil fuels. And Aurora Tejeida writes that there's been no followup at all on promises to protect the environment from inevitable oil spills.
- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on a push for Ontario to follow Iceland's lead in ensuring employer transparency to further the cause of pay equity. And Forum Research finds massive public support in the province for a $15 minimum wage - contrasted against not a single group polled which stands opposed to the possibility.
- Finally, Taylor Bendig questions the Wall government's choice to throw STC under the bus without any apparent planning or analysis.