The solutions are to either improve government transfers or to improve access to viable retirement savings vehicles. So what has Canada done? The opposite. In the name of more sustainable government budgets, the eligibility age for OAS has been raised from 65 to 67 leaving those who cannot hang on for the extra two years without a safety net.
The real scandal of politics at present is not about a number of high profile, well-attired, and well-trained political elite caught in scanda. The true victims in this very moment are all those Canadians seeking work, lining up at food banks, hoping for better Veteran's benefits, the hundreds of Aboriginal women gone missing and presumed deceased, those waiting for extensive times in emergency rooms, and those on the wrong side of the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor in this country. They look in vain to both Houses of Parliament for a proper addressing of their circumstances.
Like most religious minorities in Quebec, I am only slightly shocked by the proposed charter of values. The people that at the short end of the proverbial legislation stick are kids. Because our kids will live the rest of their future in the shadow of the laws and governments we support, it is imperative to consult them. So I decided to put my ear to the ground, and asked my youth group girls and their friends what they thought of the Quebec charter of values. Here are some reactions by girls age 12-16, all from different backgrounds and religions.
The tragedy in Nigeria is less about the oil itself than it is about failed governance. Without radical improvements in public policy, Nigeria will continue to be a poor destination for investment. That's bad for everyone. But don't blame the petroleum for the problems there -- blame the public policy.
Health associations have long been calling for a "fat tax"; taxes on foods that some nutritionists and researchers don't want us to eat or drink. Unfortunately, the lack of sound thinking behind vilifying sugary drinks or less healthful snacks has not changed, nor has the blunt, imprecise, and unfair nature of a "junk food" or "sugary drink" tax. Overly simplistic solutions to obesity that vilify an industry or food product are bad public policy. The reality is that "junk food" taxes or sugary drink taxes are ineffective instruments that fail to recognize the complex and manifold causes of obesity. It's time we put the idea of such taxes in their rightful place: the junk bin.
Canada is a superb creation and initial credit for that must, obviously, go to Canada's founding fathers. How we came about is a fascinating tale of seemingly intractable regional disputes resolved, at least for a time, by new institutions and a new country. Thus, today, inter-provincial debates are similar to pre-1867 tussles where one province's citizens complain of how others are on the federal dole courtesy of tax dollars from the more prosperous regions. And all the provinces again regularly press the federal government for more money.
As Canada turns 146, many recent surveys show that most Canadians are hankering for a new constitution. So is Canada's Constitution a completed document? Some commentators have claimed since 1995 that Canadians are tired of constitutional talks, and while this was likely true back then there is no evidence that the fatigue continues. As Canada moves toward its 150th birthday in 2017, what more appropriate national discussion could take place than about the document that founded both our country and our governments, and about the changes Canadians want in a new constitution?
In May 2010, then-Industry Minister Tony Clement introduced anti-spam legislation that he admitted was long overdue. Clement acknowledged that "Canada is seen as a haven for spammers because of the gaps in our current legislation...a place where spammers can reside and inflict their damage around the world." Yet last week, government officials disclosed that the best-case scenario for the law is that final regulations are released late this summer with the implementation of the law delayed until the fall of 2014.
Every year, provincial health care systems across Canada dutifully reduce the volume of services they provide in preparation for the summer vacation season. This planned-for reduction has the inevitable effect of lengthening waiting times for Canadians over the summer months (and during Christmas holidays). The added twist this year is the slowdowns might be extended in a bid to reduce expenditures.
In 2013, Canadians worked until June 10, which happens to be Tax Freedom Day, to pay all their taxes. Tax Freedom Day is an easy-to-understand measure of the total tax burden imposed on Canadian families by federal, provincial, and local governments. But the true tax burden doesn't end with the revenues that governments collect.
What is happening in both the House of Commons and the Senate at the moment represents a serious enough threat to our democracy that we require remedial efforts in real time, far in advance of whatever constitutional refinements to these institutions that might lie in the future. Our focus should be upon the selection process for Senators, at least in the interim.
Mayor Rob Ford's stubborn refusal to address substantively the allegations of drug use, and the reputational contagion and distraction it has caused, needs to be addressed in short order. In a corporate setting, a Chief Executive engaging in similar patterns of behavior would not be tolerated by any board of directors. The CEO would have been fired long ago.
Quebec's political leaders seem to have fallen for the Great Green Dream of economic prosperity without energy or natural resource production. It's a magical vision of a world powered by unicorns and rainbows, where consumer goods are somehow conjured out of thin air rather than being manufactured with resources extracted from the ground. But experience in Europe shows that chasing the green dream is a path to financial ruin, not utopia. Quebec's one-two punch to energy and natural resource production is most likely to hurt the province itself more than the industries who might invest there.
Fact is, Alberta's red-ink budgets have much more to do with real per-capita program spending being near historic highs. This also explains why so many Albertans "hiss" at the notion of a sales tax. To understand why the spending side of the government ledger deserves more attention, consider some statistics about Alberta's program spending, ones that take into account Alberta's population growth and inflation rate.
The actual risk of young people getting melanoma is tiny compared with the risks of everyday activities that we don't think twice about allowing kids to engage in. We could prevent far more teen deaths and injuries by outlawing teenaged skating, swimming and driving than by outlawing teenaged tanning.