Lame jobs performance has brought criticism to bear on the federal Tories from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. When a pro-business organization like that trashes a dedicated neoconservative entity like the Harper government it’s a true indication that new approaches are needed. Back in the late 1970s the neocon thing might have looked edgy in some quarters. It’s about as edgy as an old bar of soap now. The report is a very good recording of economic life in Canada. Among the Chamber’s findings:
- In 2013 the number of “prime working age” Canadians (those between 25 – 54) in employment declined.
- Employment grew a stunning 0.6% in 2013 – the lowest rate since 2009
- Youth unemployment is 14% – double the national rate
- Nearly all new jobs are part time, service sector jobs with poor wages
Economist and business journalist Armine Yalnizyan puts it together for us in a thirty minute presentation: five ways to respond to inequality. Strong, sensible, realistic commentary on everything from minimum wages to affordable housing. Why doesn’t some political party leader just use this word-for-word as their election platform?
Five Good Ideas about How to Tackle Inequality maytree.com
In case you were thinking Canada’s inequality isn’t that big a deal look at these census data-based bar graphs from pressprogress.ca about who has (and hasn’t) been getting a raise since 1982! There’s been scarcely any real income growth from 1982 to 2010 outside of the top ten percent income earners.
image: Figure 5 by Charles Demuth via Wikimedia Commons
A worthy document from the Homeless Hub was released today, asking us to really look at youth homelessness in Canada. After children come youth in the needs hierarchy because exposure to social difficulty at these stages in life acts as a magnifier of difficulty in later in years – elevating the raw dollar cost of response and the loss of human potential. The report is detailed, peer reviewed and contains international comparisons so that Canadians can get a better idea of what is possible. The truth seems to be that Canada could do a better job at applying resources in greater depth before young people arrive in precarious situations and are forced to draw on front line responses.
Homeless Hub Start page with youth homelessness infographic & media links
Coming of age: reimagining youth homelessness in Canada 135-page .pdf file
image: homeless youth near train tracks in Vancouver area (anonymous) via Wikimedia Commons
Mothers and children in poverty. What a topic for British Columbia, now “leading” the country in child poverty. Hopefully we won’t just look to BC for high numbers but solutions to the problem, and soon. If there is one place to get social conditions right it is with children – how’s that for a statement of the obvious? For this item a writer headed down to south Langara to learn from a single mom there.
No Easy Numbers for Single Mom Poverty. BC figures show sharp fall in their median income. But variable data hides the real story. The Tyee
image: Joaquim Alves Gaspar via Wikimedia Commons
Folks, he’s sticking up for poor people. Seriously, is there going to be eight more months of this? Suburban-poverty.com can’t imagine anybody worse for the poor than this barely there, mismanaging city-hater. If there is no legal mechanism for getting rid of what’s left of this ill mayoralty can a social and moral one emerge?
Suburban-poverty.com wishes safety, patience and strength to the Rob Ford Must Go sit in. Starting its seventeenth day: this is a healthy example of citizens responding to a threat to where they live and what they care about. NoMoRoFo!
RFMG on Twitter
RFMG sit in Facebook page
(473) Ford Nation’s backyard employment numbers
(461) Challenging Ford & his ilk
Canadian Business magazine asks why are some of the largest corporations paying so little tax and getting help from the government to keep it that way? Five percent tax for the likes of Canadian Pacific Railway? Is this country being run by a load of Tories or something?
Why are some Canadian companies paying almost no tax? The government has been creating tax loopholes for business while clamping down on regular taxpayers
Canada’s poorest one fifth saw their net worth stagnate from 2005 and decline since 1999. Everyone else enjoyed an increase in net worth of some degree, especially the wealthy. Upper wealth groups saw gains from 1999 of as much as 80%.
Wow! Real estate investments and private pension holdings explain much of the disparity.
The report can be spun as a bit of cheerful news from Statistics Canada: the Financial Post treated it that way. The report would seem to contradict the idea of an immiserated, shrinking middle class declining into some form of neo-fedualism, yes. But that “success” is totally skewed by growth in real estate values – which no longer have the slightest relationship to wages. What if real estate tops out and crashes in value? What if interest rates go up? For the bottom fifth of the population, the survey is bad news. They went pretty much nowhere between 1995 and 2012.
Maybe they should rename this document the Financial Insecurity Survey.
Survey of Financial Security, 2012
image: Dollar Bonheur by Claude Peloquin via Wikimedia Commons
For the United States: the Living Wage Calculator has been whirring away online generating data for every county in the United States since 2004. Cost of living information is fed into the calculator to generate a realistic wage that will keep workers and their family members out of poverty. Quick and easy to use.
Living Wage Calculator – Poverty in America/MIT
For Canada: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provides a calculation method for living wages in Canada as a technical appendix to an update of a major report on living wages in Metro Vancouver. Using this method involves downloading a .pdf file and a spreadsheet file and then inputting data for the community you are interested in. Not as quick and easy to use but good to have.
Working for a Living Wage: 2013 26-page .pdf file from CCPA
Less keen on the homework involved in using the CCPA method we chose two Chicagoland counties from the MIT/Poverty in America calculator we thought would compare roughly with the Greater Toronto Area. The hourly wage range indicated by the calculator as needed to keep workers and children out of poverty is from just over ten dollars for a single worker to over thirty dollars for a single worker with three children. Workers with combinations of partners and children required hourly wage rates around the twenty dollar mark to maintain themselves above poverty levels.
The point of both tools is to demonstrate in a real world way that minimum wages are too low to keep working people out of poverty.
A nice use of Twitter by Citizens for Public Justice last week. A simple graphic tells us that In 1981 in Canada there was a thirty three percent shortfall between average actual poor family income and the generally accepted poverty line. Pretty much the same after adjustment for the passage of time as right now. That’s over a thousand dollars a month and what we at suburban-poverty.com call a punch in the stomache.
CPJ on Twitter 19/02/2014
All over the mainstream media – despite the zillion dollar slipping and sliding festival that was Sochi, riots in the Ukraine and some of the harshest weather ever – is an internal government report on where things are at in this country. What We Know About the Middle Class in Canada, from Employment and Social Development Canada, was unearthed by the Canadian Press and is a bit of a disaster for the federal conservatives. Apparently being middle class here is a mythical status: those clinging to it have done so through debt, and lots of it.
Now, if we aren’t mistaken we thought these neoconservatives and neoliberals were all about family values and prosperity? They’ve had decades to get it right for the voters, taxpayers and working people of Canada but even the most convinced of the neocons must be starting to wonder where it all went wrong. “The market does not reward middle-income families so well,” says the report which was written last fall and released after an access to information request by CP.
‘Canadian Dream’ a myth, says internal government report Calgary Herald
Report viewable at this link
image: House of Parliament, Ottawa, 1878 by Notman & Sandham via Wikimedia Commons