Broadening health care’s perspective on pain

We don’t take pain into account when assessing where to invest health sector research and delivery dollars. That needs to change

Broadening health care’s perspective on painPain is a difficult topic for Canada’s health care sector. It can arise from many diseases, but not always. For example, arthritis in a joint can be visible on X-rays and not cause any pain; but it can also be so painful as to completely disable an individual.  Pain is subjective, so sufferers can be…

We need a new kind of weather forecast

More regular reporting on extreme weather patterns would help Canadians understand the real threat of climate change

We need a new kind of weather forecastThe tornadoes that recently hit the Ottawa area can’t be blamed specifically on global climate change. But they are consistent with the long-predicted pattern of increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events, highlighted in the most recent report of the International Panel on Climate Change. Unfortunately, too many Canadians still don’t believe that human activity…

Recognizing the many faces of poverty in Canada

To have effective policies, we need clear, understandable indicators for the most important dimensions of poverty

Recognizing the many faces of poverty in CanadaThe federal government is to be congratulated on its just-released Poverty Reduction Strategy. The strategy, running to over 100 pages, endorses the idea of an official poverty line, relieving Statistics Canada from the impossible task of finding a purely statistical basis of definition. It further endorses the idea that poverty has many dimensions – including…

Canada needs an official poverty line

Having a clearly-defined poverty line enables a government to set targets and focus its policy agenda on effective change

Canada needs an official poverty linePoverty is hard to measure. There are many aspects besides living on low income, including having disabilities or costly health problems, not being able to find decent housing, not being able to understand and communicate in an environment with increasing technological and legal complexity, and being unable to find nutritious food at reasonable prices. Still,…

Is it time for major tax reform in Canada?

It would be more prudent to make ongoing in-depth analysis of various facets of the tax system a full-time activity of the Department of Finance

Is it time for major tax reform in Canada?On the same day that Finance Minister Bill Morneau clarified the federal government’s proposals to limit “income sprinkling” as a way for high-income owners of private companies to reduce their taxes, the Senate finance committee released its report recommending that all his tax changes should be scrapped.  Instead, the committee recommended the government undertake an…

The loudest voices against tax reform are not neutral

Almost absent in the debate about proposed Canadian changes are any voices defending the idea of tax fairness

The loudest voices against tax reform are not neutralFederal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s proposals for tightening tax breaks associated with private companies is generating several kinds of response on social media and in mainstream media. The most evident is an impressive deluge of evidence-free rhetoric claiming that the proposals are an attack on everything from the middle class to maternity leave for female…

The sky is falling on small business – or is it?

Proposed tax changes actually bring more fairness to the system, helping to close loopholes and eliminate back-door strategies to hide income

The sky is falling on small business – or is it?Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau recently released a long-and-nervously-awaited discussion paper that was met with near apoplexy in some corners. That reaction is misguided. The paper is aimed at closing a number of loopholes where mainly rich taxpayers use private companies (Canadian-controlled private corporations or CCPCs) to reduce their taxes, compared to most Canadians whose…

Guarding against income inequality in Canada

Does Canada need to worry about the same festering malaise that has disrupted the United States?

Guarding against income inequality in CanadaDonald Trump’s presidential campaign, as inarticulate and venal as it was, tapped into important and deeply-rooted American realities, realities that may also contain lessons for Canada. Does Canada need to worry about the same festering malaise that has become so dramatically evident in the U.S.? Powerful international data on income inequality offer significant insights. Branko…

People need less money to live as they get older? Not!

What we really need is an evidence-based public conversation about the consumption and income needs of Canadian seniors

People need less money to live as they get older? Not!The C.D. Howe Institute released a study just in time for the recent federal-provincial finance ministers’ meeting, rolling out the tired old argument that as people age they don't need as much money. If only retirement were so easy. The study focuses on Canadian public servants’ pension plans in particular – including those of teachers…

Do Canadians pay too much in taxes?

Here’s why that’s the wrong question to ask

Do Canadians pay too much in taxes?A recent Fraser Institute report and commentary stated that taxes are the single largest budget item of Canadian households. “Your family’s largest expense may surprise you,” the think tank wrote alarmingly, with taxes as the punchline. Of course, if you divide all household expenditures into a number of different categories like food and transportation, but…