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The Canadian Progressive: Federal Court dismisses former PBO Kevin Page’s application

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: The Federal Court of Canada has dismissed a request by former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, to clarify the office’s mandate. In his application, Page had also sought ”judgment affirming he has the jurisdiction to seek the information” relating to the $5.2 billion in fiscal savings outlined in [...]

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The Progressive Economics Forum: Austerity through infrastructure Cuts: Budget 2013

One the most amazing things about this budget is that one of its three focuses will actually be the opposite of what it’s touting. You’ll likely hear that $14 billion will be spent on infrastructure over the next 10 years (actually you may hear much bigger numbers but they just re-announce existing programs like the gas tax transfer). What you won’t hear is that 75% of that money is going to spent on or after 2020. In fact, there will be an affective $1 billion cut to infrastructure transfers to the cities in 2014-15.

The Building Infrastructure

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Austerity through infrastructure Cuts: Budget 2013

The Progressive Economics Forum: Budget 2013: Time for a real action plan, not another ad campaign

It’s hard to get excited about Thursday’s federal budget. All signs point to an “austerity” budget, even though that approach has failed so spectacularly wherever it has been tried. Austerity is one of those zombie ideas that cannot be killed, roaming rampantly across the pages and screens of the mainstream media. The 2012 federal budget already took a big step down the path of austerity with major public sector cuts, largely focused on direct federal program spending with cuts around 7% (transfers to provinces and individuals, a large part of the federal budget, have largely been spared). About 19,000 federal

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Budget 2013: Time for a real action plan, not another ad campaign

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Alternative Federal Budget 2013 – Doing Better, Together

These are the remarks by David MacDonald and I prepared for the press conference marking the release of the AFB 2013 in Ottawa, March 12, 2013.

Time flies and our Alternative Federal Budget is now in its 19th year. Year after year it has shown that we can have a Canada where we all do better together.

This year the AFB is more inclusive than ever with 27 chapters written by over 90 contributors each laying out progressive policy ideas ready for implementation. All policy proposals are fully costed and put within a realistic macro-economic framework to determine

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: The Alternative Federal Budget 2013 – Doing Better, Together

The Canadian Progressive: Aagh, Harper Conservatives Nuked Democratic NDP Motion On Role Of PBO

By Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, Feb. 14, 2013: Showing their burgeoning disdain for accountability, transparency, financial oversight and the independence of federal watchdogs, the Harper Conservatives earlier this week nuked a progressive NDP motion on the role of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). The motion, tabled by the Official Opposition’s Finance critic, Peggy Nash, sought to extend the mandate READ MORE

Canadian ProgressiveCanadian Progressive: First Nation: Bill C-45 allows tar sands industry to destroy vital waterways and treaty rights

by Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Today the conservative government tabled a new version of Bill C-45, a 443-page bill, to implement its federal budget. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) was taken aback by the proposed amendments stating they are indicative of the further erosion of Treaty rights in Canada. ACFN leadership is particularly worried about [...]

Canadian Progressive: Radicals for our coast: New Democrat MPs and community reps (VIDEO)

A must-watch video on the ongoing fight against Enbridge’s cursed pipeline. The following New Democrat MPs visit Terrace, Kitimat and Kitamaat, British Columbia, and discuss the energy giant’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline: Deputy Leader and Environment critic, Megan Leslie (Halifax); House Leader, Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley); Public Safety & LGBTT critic, Randall Garrison (Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca); Western Economic Diversification Canada & Deputy Fisheries critic, Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam); and Alex Atamanenko (BC Southern Interior). RELATED: Wanted: “Radicals” Against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline

The Progressive Economics Forum: GDP: Austerity Bites

Canada’s economy grew by half a percent in the first quarter of 2012, staying on pace for unimpressive annual growth of two percent.

The good news is that business investment was strong, at least on a seasonally-adjusted basis. (As usually happens in the first quarter, the actual dollar value of business investment actually decreased.)

Unfortunately, the other major components of GDP weakened. Government spending on goods and services fell by 0.4%, its largest quarterly decline since 1997. Fiscal austerity is starting to take a bite out of Canadian economic growth.

Consumer spending grew by an anaemic 0.2%,

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: GDP: Austerity Bites

The Progressive Economics Forum: Energy McCarthyism 2: Hoback Attack

Saskatchewan conservatives are getting cranky. At last night’s Finance Committee meeting on the omnibus bill, MP Randy Hoback exposed me as being a New Democrat who writes “garbage” (as this blog’s readers already know).

Full video of the meeting is available here, with my presentation starting two hours in.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Tightening the Screws on the Unemployed

The significant changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program which are to be quickly implemented through Budget 2012 with very little consultation have not received enough critical attention.

First, a word on what is not in the Budget. It is disappointing, to say the least, that the government is failing to respond to the fact that less than 40% of unemployed Canadians are now qualifying for EI, well below the already low pre-recession rate. And, for all of the talk about skills shortages in Canada, it is notable that there is NO increased investment at all in EI supported

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Tightening the Screws on the Unemployed

Art Threat: One Month Later – How the 2012 Federal Budget Impacts the Arts

With the release of the 2012 federal budget one month behind us you’ve likely captured the gist of the budget – cuts to the CBC and none to the Canada Council for the Arts. Here’s a full breakdown of how the cuts (and non cuts) affect arts and culture in Canada over the next three years, including an amalgamation of quotes and information from press releases and articles from cultural organizations over the last month. While some people indicated with a mix of relief and skepticism that the cuts were not as deep as they had anticipated, others called the

. . . → Read More: Art Threat: One Month Later – How the 2012 Federal Budget Impacts the Arts

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Federal Budget and Women

(The following is from my colleague Angella McEwen.)

The only mention of either men or women in the 400-odd page 2012 Budget Implementation Bill is with regards to the appropriate use of donated sperm and ova.

In analysis and discussions of the proposed omnibus bill, differential impacts for women, Aboriginals, racialized persons, newcomers, and *the poor* are frequently left out. It’s hard to blame anyone, there’s a lot to talk about in this whopper.

Still, it’s important to take a moment to ask not only what are the costs and benefits, but who benefits, and who pays the costs.

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: The Federal Budget and Women

The Progressive Economics Forum: PBO Strikes Again

I wanted to tip my hat to the hard working folks at the PBO for a particularly revealing Economic and Fiscal Outlook that was published today. While the PBO has more than once eaten my lunch on various issue they’ve done a superb job of looking at Canada’s economic and fiscal position.

I’d point readers of this blog particularly to page 2 where the impact of budget cutbacks, both federally and provincially, are aggregated, not only in their real GDP impact, but also in their employment impact. That is to say that when governments cut spending, jobs are lost as

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: PBO Strikes Again

The Progressive Economics Forum: Katimavik

I am sure readers of this blog are not unsympathetic to the case for a government supported program which, at a time of very high youth unemployment, annually enables some 1500 young people to volunteer to work in not for profit sponsored community development projects across the country. Participants- aged 17 to 21 – are usually engaged in two projects outside their home community over six months.

The government claims that the program is too costly. But Katimavik’s numbers show that their $16 Million annual budget generates some $14 Million per year in community benefits, and that is before taking

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Katimavik

The Progressive Economics Forum: Federal Job Cuts…the Real Numbers

Thankfully the federal budget has started to fill in some of the details of its latest round of cuts. In particular, it now estimates 19,200 positions lost due to its latest round of cuts (Federal Budget 2012, pg 221). Although it is nice to have an initial estimate, this hardly show the full picture as it excludes the other two rounds of cuts that overlap on the 2012 version. See Table 1 for the full cut details

Table 1: All Cuts ($mil)   2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2007 Strategic Reviews

395

403

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The Progressive Economics Forum: The Federal Budget Impact on Jobs

The Budget estimate that a new round of cuts will eliminate up to 19,200 jobs has been widely cited as fact, but it cannot be taken at face value as argued in an analysis released by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. An extract follows:

 

The government claims the $5.2 billion in spending cuts will mean the loss of 19,200 public service jobs. It says 7,000 of those will be dealt with through attrition. But how does the government know how many people will actually retire? Given the high household debt levels and uncertainty felt by most public

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The Progressive Economics Forum: OAS, the Budget and the Baby Boomers

The Budget justifies raising the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS on the grounds that the long-term fiscal sustainability of the program is being undermined by rising life expectancy.

No estimates of savings are provided. They will be very modest.

Given that average life expectancy at age 65 is 20 years, raising the eligibility age by two years could only save a maximum of 10% of projected spending on future retirees if implemented immediately.

However, the government proposes to phase in the increased eligibility age between 2023 and 2029 which will hugely reduce any savings relative to current projections.

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: OAS, the Budget and the Baby Boomers

The Progressive Economics Forum: Budget 2012: Pennywise But Pound Foolish

Marc, Andrew and Toby have posted substantial analyses of yesterday’s federal budget, but here are my two cents about its economic forecasts.

Table 2.1 envisions a 7.5% unemployment rate this year, slightly above last year’s rate of 7.4%. That seems like an admission of failure from a budget ostensibly about job creation.

This table also projects real GDP growth rates of 2.3% in Canada versus 2.6% in the U.S. over the next five years. The higher American figure may well be realistic given that the U.S. economy is starting to bounce back from

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Budget 2012: Pennywise But Pound Foolish

BigCityLib Strikes Back: The Budget And The Environment: The Deniers Liked It

 A statement from the ICSC: Canadian federal Budget a step forward on climate change

Ottawa, Canada, March 29, 2012: “The International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) congratulates the Government of Canada for removing from the federal Budget the misleading language of previous Budgets concerning clean air and climate change,” said Tom Harris, executive director ICSC which is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. “In past years, this serious science mistake, appearing repeatedly in such an important document, contributed to public confusion about the distinctly different approaches needed to address these two issues.

Meanwhile, what the budget means for the future of the Northern

. . . → Read More: BigCityLib Strikes Back: The Budget And The Environment: The Deniers Liked It

The Progressive Economics Forum: Conservatives’ small-minded budget kills jobs and fails Canadians

Here’s the budget analysis I prepared for CUPE’s website.

Despite its size and the hundreds of measures it details, Harper’s 2012 budget demonstrates just how small-minded their vision is. Canada faces major challenges, with 1.4 million unemployed, stagnant productivity growth, a crisis in retirement security and growing inequality.

Instead of addressing these challenges, what this budget provides is more of their failed economic policies, deep job-killing budget cuts, cuts to public pensions and a highlight: getting rid of the penny.

Not only is Harper using his new majority power to reduce the size and scope of the

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Conservatives’ small-minded budget kills jobs and fails Canadians

The Progressive Economics Forum: CLC Analysis of the 2012 Budget

Introduction Budgets are all about choices. With unemployment and underemployment still at very high levels and a shrinking middle-class, the federal government could and should have laid the basis for a sustained and broadly shared economic recovery. The federal government should be taking a larger and stronger role in making the economy work for average Canadians, and developing policies that ensure that all Canadians can afford their basic needs in tough times. Instead, we got a budget that cuts jobs rather than creates jobs; which attacks needed public services and social programs; and undermines rather than enhances retirement security.

As

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: CLC Analysis of the 2012 Budget

cmkl: The federal budget: spite and bile to pump up the base

So it turns out all the nasty rumours were actually true.

The Progressive Economics Forum: A budget that screws the planet for short-term profits

First off, the 2012 federal budget that makes no upfront claim to be a budget. Indeed, the cover states only “Economic Action Plan 2012: Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity.” While we have been accustomed in recent years to budgets with their own titles, this one does not actually say “Budget” anywhere. This frames it more a framework economic document that includes gutting of environmental assessment in the name of the economy.

This is a colonial vision of the economy as a quarry for foreign interests. Instead of ensuring development of resources in a manner consistent with real long-term needs

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: A budget that screws the planet for short-term profits

cmkl: Cut staff but not services? That’s unpossible

Now when I was a journalist, if someone made an assertion as daft as the one above, I would have left it out of the story just because it made no sense. But if you’re CTV, you apparently leave it as the lead.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Alternative Federal Budget 2012

The following is a ten-point summary of the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget released today:

The federal government is planning an unprecedented fiscal austerity budget, claiming that massive cuts to public sector jobs, services, and social programs are necessary to pave the way for jobs and growth. But in fact the opposite is true. Austerity programs weaken the economy, and their implementation in many European countries has tipped the EU back into recession, fueled unemployment, and increased their debts and deficits.

There is a better way to make the federal budget work for the rest of us. The Alternative Federal

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Alternative Federal Budget 2012