Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

The Progressive Economics Forum: Homelessness in Canada: Its Growth, Policy Responses, and Advocacy

On February 1, I gave a guest presentation on homelessness to a graduate seminar class on housing policy taught by Steve Pomeroy at Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration. The focus of my presentation was the emergence of homelessness in Canada as a pressing public policy area in the 1980s. I discussed the […] . . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Homelessness in Canada: Its Growth, Policy Responses, and Advocacy

The Progressive Economics Forum: Dix choses à savoir sur les défis associés avec mettre fin à l’itinérance au Canada

Le 18 novembre, j’ai fait une présentation sur les défis en ce qui concerne « mettre fin à l’itinérance » au Canada au 7 Cities Leadership Summit à Edmonton. Ma présentation, illustrée de diapositives, peut être téléchargée ici. Voici dix choses à savoir en tant que défis concernant « mettre fin à l’itinérance » au Canada. […] . . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Dix choses à savoir sur les défis associés avec mettre fin à l’itinérance au Canada

The Progressive Economics Forum: Ten Things to Know About the Challenges of Ending Homelessness in Canada

On November 18, I gave a presentation on “ending homelessness” at the 7 Cities Leadership Summit in Edmonton. My PowerPoint slides can be downloaded here.

Here are ten things to know about “ending homelessness” in Canada:

1. In 2008, Calgary became the first Canadian municipality to publicly commit to “ending homelessness.” More than a dozen other Canadian municipalities have since followed suit, with Medicine Hat’s Mayor recently claiming that his municipality has indeed “ended homelessness.” Such plans have the potential to raise awareness and focus collective efforts to develop new practices focused on ending homelessness. I think one (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Five Things to Know About Pre-1964 Canadian Housing Policy

On November 4, I gave a historical presentation on Canadian housing policy at the annual conference of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. My slide presentation, which focused on pre-1964 Canadian social history, can be downloaded here.

Here are five things to know about pre-1964 history that set the tone for important developments in Canadian housing policy:

Prior to the 1940s, there was virtually no government-assisted housing for anyone at all in Canada. In the early 1900s, if you were without work and needed help paying the bills, you typically had to rely on family or friends for assistance. In (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Cinq choses à savoir sur la politique du logement au Canada, avant 1964

Le 4 novembre, j’ai fait une présentation sur la politique du logement au Canada, lors de la Conférence nationale pour mettre fin à l’itinérance. Ma presentation (qui a porté sur l’histoire sociale canadienne avant 1964) illustrée de diapositives, peut être téléchargée ici.

Voici cinq choses à savoir sur l’histoire avant 1964, période qui a donné le ton à des développements importants dans la politique du logement au Canada:

Avant les années 1940, il n’y avait pratiquement pas de logements subventionnés par le gouvernement au Canada. Dans les années 1900, si on était sans travail et avait besoin d’aide pour payer (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada

This afternoon I gave a presentation at Raising the Roof’s Child & Family Homelessness Stakeholder Summit in Toronto. My slide deck can be downloaded here. To accompany the presentation, I’ve prepared the following list of “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada.”

1.Efforts to enumerate persons experiencing homeless have generally been spotty, but it is reasonable to assert that homelessness in Canada saw substantial growth in the 1980s and 1990s. On a nightly basis in Toronto, there were about 1,000 persons per night staying in emergency shelters in 1980. By 1990, that figure had doubled. And (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Dix Choses à Savoir sur l’Itinérance au Canada

Cet après-midi, j’ai fait une présentation au Child & Family Homelessness Stakeholder Summit, organisé par Chez Toit, à Toronto. Ma presentation, illustrée de diapositives, peut être téléchargée ici. Pour accompagner la présentation, je vous ai préparé la liste suivante des « Dix choses à savoir sur l’itinérance au Canada. »

1. Les tentatives de dénombrer les personnes en situation d’itinérance ont généralement été intermittentes, mais il est raisonnable d’affirmer que l’itinérance au Canada a connu une croissance importante entre 1980 et 2000. Sur une base quotidienne à Toronto, il y avait environ 1,000 personnes par nuit séjournant dans (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Balanced Budget Myopia Breaks Both Ways

Opinions on deficit budgeting have become a short-hand litmus test in Canadian politics. Deficits are left-wing and balanced budgets are right-wing austerity. Economists know that there is virtually no difference between a small surplus and a small deficit, but politicians and voters are a different story.

I have spent the past three and half years railing against premature Conservative budgetary tightening, so when Thomas Mulcair said he wasn’t entertaining the possibility of a budget deficit in 2016, I was among those progressive economists who groaned and rolled their eyes in frustration.

When we reduce policy discourse to “deficits good vs. deficits (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Response to Johann Hari’s TED Talk on Addiction

This is a guest blog post from Doug Chaudron:

British journalist Johann Hari recently gave a TED talk, provocatively titled “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.” See the 15-minute talk, and find Hari’s biography, at http://tinyurl.com/o5kp779.

Some key points made by Mr. Hari in his talk include these: Current approaches to treatment don’t seem to work well; taking “addictive” drugs doesn’t always result in addiction; rats given appealing alternatives to drug use rarely become drug users; creating social connectedness and opportunities might work better than punishing addicts.

The speech is quite engaging, and for (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Homelessness in Canada’s North

Over at the blog of Northern Public Affairs, I’ve written a post titled “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada’s North.”

Topics covered in the post include the high cost of construction in many parts of the North, the relatively high costs of operating housing in the North, and declining federal funding for social housing in the North.

The full post can be found here.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Responsibility for Housing

On Monday I gave a guest presentation to Craig Jones‘ graduate seminar class in Carleton University’s School of Social Work. My presentation sought to answer two questions:

1. Why should government play a role in creating affordable housing?

2. Which level of government is responsible?

With those questions as a backdrop, here are 10 things one needs to know:

1. When it comes to affordable housing, the private sector alone doesn’t cut it—not by a long shot! For it to be profitable for a for-profit developer to create rental housing in one of Canada’s major urban centres, (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ‘Tis the Season to Rethink Our Charitable Giving

This op-ed by yours truly was published in The Province. The examples are BC-specific, but the message is much broader: donating to charity is not enough, we also have to change the status quo that forces so many people to turn to charity in a rich country like Canada.

It’s December, the season for charitable giving. Wherever you turn you see boxes and bins collecting non-perishable food items for the local food bank or toys for the less fortunate children in our communities.

The cashier asks if you want to add a $2 donation to your purchase. You donate (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Should Welfare Recipients Try Harder to Find Work?

This morning the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation released a new report about “motivational interviewing” for welfare recipients. The link to the full report is here, and the link to the executive summary is here.

Authored by Reuben Ford, Jenn Dixon, Shek-wai Hui, Isaac Kwakye and Danielle Patry, the study reports on a recent randomized controlled trial done on long-term recipients of social assistance in British Columbia. The research took place between September 2012 and March 2013. There were a total of 154 research participants; 76 of the individuals were in the “treatment group,” while 78 were in (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Affordable Housing in the Yukon

Earlier today, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site, I blogged about a recent (and controversial) decision made by the Yukon government about affordable housing in the Yukon. Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-Very little affordable housing gets built in Canada without federal assistance.

-Without financial assistance from senior levels of government, for-profit developers in Canada generally don’t find it worthwhile to build rental housing even for middle-income tenants (never mind low-income tenants).

-Going forward, federal funding for existing social housing in the Yukon is declining.

The full blog post can be accessed (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: “Out-sourcing” social programs and policy #nlpoli

The incredible story from Ireland about the remains of 800 babies and children found in a discarded septic tank caused your humble e-scribbler to think a bit about local history.

Then this post at the Monkey Cage put it in a bigger perspective.

(Read more…)

THE CAREGIVERS' LIVING ROOM A Blog by Donna Thomson: Innovating for Caregivers at The SIX Vancouver Summer School

I’m on a plane now, reading over the notes I’ve made from the last four days.  I’ve just come from a week of listening, sharing and thinking about how society can be shaped and shifted to support family caregivers.  I was thinking too, about how care is at the heart of social change. The SIX (Social Innovation Exchange) Vancouver Summer Schoolbrought together social innovators from across the globe.  The place of care in social change was a theme that ran through every discussion and workshop and we were nudged to think about care through the cultural (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Rental Housing in Yellowknife

Yesterday I blogged about rental housing in Yellowknife, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site. Specifically, I blogged about a recent announcement by the city’s largest for-profit landlord that it plans to “tighten” its policies vis-a-vis renting to recipients of “income assistance” (which, in most parts of Canada, is known generically as social assistance). Among other things, I suggest in the post that the for-profit landlord in question may be in a monopoly situation. The link to my blog post is here.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Alex Usher Needs to Consider Taxation

My debate with Alex Usher on tuition fees continues, over at the Academic Matters web site. In my latest post, I make the case that Mr. Usher needs to consider Canada’s tax system when suggesting that reducing tuition fees is “regressive.”

The Progressive Economics Forum: Alex Usher is Wrong on Tuition Fees

Earlier today, over at the Academic Matters web site, I addressed the issue of whether Canada’s current system of high tuition fees and means-tested student aid is in fact “progressive.” My post was a response to a Alex Usher‘s May 9 blog post. My blog post can be found here.

The Progressive Economics Forum: More on the At Home/Chez Soi Study

Earlier this month, I blogged about the At Home/Chez Soi homelessness study prior to the release of its final report.

Today I’ve blogged again, this time about the contents of the final report itself. This second blog post, being rather long and nuanced, was written for the Homeless Hub. It can be accessed at this link.

The Progressive Economics Forum: 10 Things to Know About the At Home/Chez Soi Study

On Tuesday, April 8, results of the Mental Health Commission of Canada‘s At Home/Chez Soi homelessness study will be released at an Ottawa press conference. The study followed more than 2,000 participants in five Canadian cities. All were homeless when the study began. Half of them received the Housing First intervention, and half of them did not. Data was collected from 2009 until 2013.

Here are 10 things you should know about this study.

1. It is one of the most ambitious randomized controlled trials in Canadian history.

2. Its $110 million budget was funded entirely by (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Rising Homelessness

In 2010, I wrote a blog post in which I suggested that: a) the recession of 2008-2009 would bring on increased homelessness; and b) there would be a lag effect of roughly three to five years. Indeed, I suggested that it would not be until 2014 until the full effect of the recession is seen in terms of homeless numbers.

Recent data from the City of Toronto appears to lend support to my prediction.

 

The Progressive Economics Forum: Affordable Housing and Homelesness

This morning I gave a presentation to an church group in Ottawa on affordable housing and homelessness. My slides can be downloaded here.

Points I raised in the presentation include the following:

-Though government provides subsidizes to some low-income households for housing, it is important to be mindful of the considerable funding available for Canadian homeowners as well (including for high-income homeowners). For example, there is no taxation on the capital gains raised from the sale of a person’s primary residence. On an annual basis in Canada, this tax exemption costs the public treasury almost $2 billion.

(Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Do High Tuition Fees Make for Good Public Policy?

This afternoon I gave a presentation to Professor Ted Jackson’s graduate seminar course on higher education, taught in Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration. The link to my slide deck, titled “The Political Economy of Post-Secondary Education in Canada,” can be found here.

Points I raised in the presentation include the following:

-Tuition fees have been rising in Canada for roughly the past three decades. Yet, individuals in the 25-44 age demographic have the highest levels of household debt in Canada. This raises an important question: Is it good public policy to be saddling this demographic (Read more…)

THE CAREGIVERS' LIVING ROOM A Blog by Donna Thomson: The Four Walls of My Freedom – Why I Wrote This Book

“The trick to helping communities find their own answers to caring for their citizens is not in locating charismatic leaders, but in forming “leader-full” alliances of of elected officials, bureaucrats, members of the medical community, caregivers and care receivers.”  

From the updated paperback edition of my book, “The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I’ve Learned from a Life of Caregiving (House of Anansi Press, 2014)

When I was writing my book in 2009 and 2010, I had one objective in mind.  I wanted to use our family story to ignite a public conversation about care.  Not just (Read more…)