Tag Archives: Canada

(257) Offices & transit: will it happen? [Report]

Two of Canada’s major national media outlets featured items today about the nature of suburban life and economics as influenced by transportation.  The issue is the rapid of appearance of millions of square feet of office space in parts of an urban/suburban agglomeration once zoned exclusively for industry. Where once office jobs were downtown and industry near ports or in early inner suburbs and satellite locations (generally to the east as in most cities in the northern hemisphere thanks to prevailing wind) we now find office employment ubiquitous and growing fast near airports and out along highways and major arterial roads.

This shouldn’t be such a surprise, given decades of deindustrialization and the apparent economic advantages of sprawl, that employers put office space, server farms, call and data centres where once there were cornfields. Suburban office space can be built and occupied in a hurry and most jurisdictions, eager to maintain employment, property values, development levies and so forth are glad to have office and service employment over the declining prospects for manufacturing, against which there are other liabilities like air pollution, noise and perhaps a cultural loss of interest in making things, as well.

The Greater Toronto Area, with some five million people now, was the focus of both pieces.  One is part of a series on CBC Morning called the Joyless Commute. They’d hardly devote a week of air space to a topic not recognized by the listenership.  Many of whom are essentially forced to car commute for hours every week to office jobs many kilometres away and which are virtually impossible prospects for cycling, walking or public transit. The second item was also about the power of car commuting to far flung office pods, places often miles from a subway stop and served by low frequency buses at most. Curiously, the piece was front page in today’s Toronto Star business section. Not at the back of the local issues or lifestyle related parts of the paper.

Money talks.  Getting these issues wrong is going to be bad for business and make life diffcult for working people.

All through the 80s, 90s and 2000’s getting it right too often meant grinding into public expenditure, cutting taxes for the rich, privatizing and reducing services.  Now it means trying to bring millions of square feet of far flung office development into transit networks, reducing car dependece and pollution, providing appropriate infrastructure upgrades and general improvements to atmosphere and opportunity where our future workplaces will be.  Everyone is feeling the pressure, workers, managers, planners, builders, employers, investors.

Stuck in gridlock? Blame the office thestar.com

Joyless Commute Metro Morning on CBC radio – see thursday segment

Strategic Regional Research: A Region in Transition
Canadian Urban Institute link to major report

image: Zlatko via Wikimedia Commons

(255) Caledon Institute says give the poor a raise

The simplest definition of poverty probably is “a personal lack of money.”  As we are drawn into arguing rightist and leftist approaches to social programs, wages, taxes and the general management of the economy it is possible to simply forget this piece. What a clarifier it may be for some of our fellow citizens to come across the suggestion that it would be helpful if lower income people had more money.  Canada’s Working Tax Benefit is a refund for lower income workers that effectively tops up their paycheque.  The Caledon Institute for Social Policy began an effort recently to have the federal finance minister consider an expansion of the benefit.  It currently costs the treasury a little over a billion to maintain the credit.  This amount is a blessing to the working poor but it does not lift them out of poverty.  An improved tax credit for the working poor seems like a practical approach to the difficulty generated by low-paying service sector jobs and temporary employment.  The idea that people can do their part, put in forty hours a week at a job, and still be poor requires a remedy. Ideological arguments against giving money to the poor because it damages their character are defrayed by attaching the tax benefit to the earning of income.  If someone else has additional and/or better ideas, …let’s hear ’em!

Give Canada’s poor a raise  Carol Goar/therecord.com

Caledon Institute of Social Policy
publications, video

image: Revenue Canada headquarters, the Connaught Building in Ottawa by Jcart1534 via Wikimedia Commons

(250) Welcome to the grotto

A grotto is simply a shallow cave or underground passage, a chamber.  In more than one culture, grottoes are viewed as places of mystery and have associations and embellishments relating to spiritual life.  A fashion for decorative, Christian-themed grottoes developed in the eighteenth century in Europe and grottoes near water or built into gardens are often tourist sites.  We came across the grotto as a metaphor of suburban poverty and homelessness in a paper about Peel Region recently.

Homelessness in the suburbs: engulfment in the grotto of poverty
Studies in Social Justice Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 103-123, 2012
via Homeless Hub – 21-page .pdf file


(242) Broadbent Institute on the damaging effects of inequality [Report]

If we take a look at Canada in the 1950s and 1960s we see a country that had higher taxes than today on a smaller population and smaller economy.  Yet rates of economic growth were higher, university was cheaper and the expectation of improvement in working condtions and wages was robustly held by most people.  Thanks to decades of neoconservative economics and neoliberal politics the taxes are down, university is expensive, the economics are shaky and expectations are in the toilet.

What does this mean? Who benefits? Who is harmed? Does it have to be this way?

Towards a more equal Canada: a report on Canada’s economic and social inequality 26-page .pdf file


Ed Broadbent on rising inequality and the threat to the Canadian dream
Toronto Star

See also:
(119) Ed Broadbent on inequality
(116) F-35s, inequality & Ed Broadbent

(235) A hidden homelessness

We had hoped to provide links to more academic papers regarding suburban poverty and related topics by now.  These papers, and the journals and institutions that publish them can pose payment and access issues at times for general internet users.  These important documents, research efforts from academics who do the detailed, heavy lifting when it comes to understanding the world around us, will get more attention in future postings.

An example is the item linked below.  It approaches the under representation of visible minority newcomers in the shelter system in Canada.  It has been assumed that this reflects a strategy of residential crowding based on family and ethnic connections.
The paper is from Canadian Studies In Population 38, No. 1–2 (Spring/Summer 2011), pages 43–59.  The author, Micheal Haan of the University of Alberta, asks if this observation represents a “hidden homelessness.”

Does immigrant residential crowding reflect hidden homelessness?
via homelesshub.ca

photo: See Ming Lee via Wikimedia Commons

(228) Hungercount 2012 [Report]

Hungercount 2012 has been released.  Produced by the national umbrella association for Canada’s food bank community.  Data for all provinces are included along with details of methodology.  No, it isn’t really getting any better.

Like it says, over 882,000 people use food banks in Canada.  What’s with that, are we going for a million?

Food Banks Canada | Banques Alimentaires Canada website

Hungercount 2012 36 page .pdf file

See also: (72) Foodbankistan

(225) Inequality doing well in Vancouver [Report]

Maybe somewhere there is a sharp individual thinking up a way to derive a clever financial instrument from the monetization of income inequality.  They’d do well to rent some office space in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Canada’s west coast big city was recently the subject of a report called Divisions and Disparities in Lotus-Land: Socio-Spatial Income Polarization in Greater Vancouver, 1970-2005.  Produced by University of Toronto academics at the Cities Centre, this one should be a real embarrassment to the system in a truly over priced city that prefers we all just talk about the scenery nearby.

Vancouver’s middle class shrinks, poverty spreads along SkyTrain
Metro coverage of report

Divisions and disparities in Lotus-Land
Full report in .pdf format from neighbourhoodchange.ca

photo: Tom Harpel via Wikimedia Commons