Will federal finances improve this year?

The ongoing recovery from COVID has been stronger than many suspected and many emergency support programs have ended. Using the latest federal Fiscal Monitor data, we explore revenue and expense trends. We present a simple forecasting model to project revenue, expense and the federal deficit to the end of the fiscal year. Read this articleWill federal finances improve this year?

The effect of COVID on provincial finances

While the economic and fiscal disruptions from COVID-19 were substantial, provincial governments across Canada fared far better than many anticipated. The latest data from Statistics Canada reveals the scale of the shock — with important implications for not only provinces, but also the federal government. Read this articleThe effect of COVID on provincial finances

Canada’s new wage subsidies: Better targeted, or just better hidden?

The Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) is a 50% wage subsidy for employers and the new centrepiece of federal job support programs. CRHP is targeted at employers who hire new workers or expand hours worked – which should make it better targeted than the previous federal wage subsidy. But the restriction of the program to private corporations, and the lack of guardrails to prevent abuse, could be a problem.  We propose reforms that would make the program more cost-effective in increasing employment and raising workers’ pay. Read this articleCanada’s new wage subsidies: Better targeted, or just better hidden?

Canada is a big spender on health care but we lag behind countries in results

In the end, it is not only how much or how little you spend but what you spend it on and what you get for it. Canadian health care is not bad, but it could be better, given the amount of money being spent. Read this articleCanada is a big spender on health care but we lag behind countries in results

Is the Canada Child Benefit an effective policy? Impacts on earnings and incomes

In 2016, the government of Canada introduced the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), a large income-tested transfer to families with children. Our research shows it works well for low-income Canadians but causes a significant decrease in hours worked by secondary earners in middle-income families. We argue the CCB could be better-targeted toward low-income households. Read this articleIs the Canada Child Benefit an effective policy? Impacts on earnings and incomes

COVID — not Alberta’s referendum — should motivate changes to the equalization program

Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

Economic and fiscal disruptions from the pandemic may soon reveal an unintended quirk in Canada’s equalization program: falling resource revenues in Saskatchewan or Newfoundland and Labrador may cause Ontario to become a recipient province. The case for changes to equalization is growing stronger. It would be unfortunate if Alberta’s referendum distracted from that. Read this articleCOVID — not Alberta’s referendum — should motivate changes to the equalization program

Does Canada need a central bank digital currency?

The Bank of Canada (BoC) says it has been researching the idea of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) for several years to prepare for the future of money and interbank payments. A CBDC would allow individual Canadians, not just chartered banks, to open accounts with the BoC. I remain relatively agnostic on the proposal. It’s not essential at a retail level but I see merit in it at the wholesale level. Read this articleDoes Canada need a central bank digital currency?

Increased immigration cannot solve Canada’s aging issues because immigrants have parents, too

Immigrants wave Canadian flags

That fact that the phrase “immigrants have parents” needs to be said reveals something about the framing of Canadian immigration policy: the tendency to see immigrants as production units, bits of human capital to slot into the Canadian economy and to fill Canadian skill shortages or to provide top talent. Read this articleIncreased immigration cannot solve Canada’s aging issues because immigrants have parents, too

The Conservative Party’s innovation platform: a mixed bag of good, bad, and indifferent policies

Stock image innovation, idea

Canada’s innovation policy framework could be changed for the better. Unfortunately, not all the measures proposed in the Conservative platform offer clear-cut improvements. Read this articleThe Conservative Party’s innovation platform: a mixed bag of good, bad, and indifferent policies

There are better ways to help student loan borrowers than zero-interest loans

Student Loans

The NDP and the Liberals have both announced promises to set a zero interest rate on student loan debt. The idea is to help former students who are struggling to repay their loans. But this will not help those most in need — borrowers in the Repayment Assistance Program (RAP) who already pay zero interest, as well as borrowers in default who are at risk of financial penalties. Read this articleThere are better ways to help student loan borrowers than zero-interest loans