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Hopes fade for humane welfare system in Ontario

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Apr 22 2012
Initially, the 880,000 people who depend on social assistance — which includes welfare and disability support — regarded Lankin, former president of the United Way of Greater Toronto, as their champion in the corridors of power. She knew they couldn’t live on the province’s meagre allowance. She knew they needed affordable housing and child care. She knew the system stripped them of their privacy and their dignity. But in recent months, doubts have set in. The commission’s discussion paper in February was vague and unsettling. Last month’s provincial budget was ominous.

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Posted in Social Security Debates | No Comments »

Canada’s non-profit sector invents a solution to gaps in funding

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Apr 19 2012
The recession hit Canada’s non-profit sector hard. Demand surged. Donations shrank. Foundations suspended grants to protect their endowments. Government support held up for a time as Ottawa and the provinces poured money into the moribund economy, then it too was cut… Innovative non-profit organizations shelved groundbreaking projects and went into survival mode… In 2010, the Community Forward Fund (CFF) was born. It took another two years of work — painstaking legal work — to build Canada’s first non-profit lending institution.

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Harper throws National Council of Welfare on the scrap heap

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Apr 12 2012
Since 1962, the National Council of Welfare had held up a mirror to the nation, highlighting the pockets of poverty and warning policy-makers of the consequences of neglecting those in need. It gave non-profit groups the facts they needed to speak credibly about hardship in a land of plenty. It tracked the emergence and growth of a crack in society between the comfortably well-off and the struggling. And it brought together social policy thinkers to find solutions to poverty… Now it’s gone.

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More than a budget, this a blueprint to make over Canada

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Mar 29 2012
The Prime Minister intends to use his parliamentary majority to redefine the role of government and rewrite Canada’s social contract. It would have helped to know all this before last year’s election. But Harper never said a word about reducing the government’s commitment to Old Age Security, capping Ottawa’s contribution to medicare or loosening environmental regulations. He never told Canadians a Conservative government would keep paring public services after the budget was balanced…. And the role of government in people’s lives will continue to shrink. They’ll have to lower their expectations, save more, demand less and stop looking to Ottawa to shield them from the rigours of the marketplace.

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Ontario budget is a requiem for a caring province

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Mar 27 2012
Most Ontarians accept the need for belt-tightening. What they don’t accept — at least not yet — is that this province can no longer afford to support the vulnerable. That is the premise on which Tuesday’s budget… is built… It is the small items – cutbacks imposed on those eking out a precarious existence – that raise questions about McGuinty’s values. Although the premier enacted a poverty reduction plan in 2009, he has now effectively renounced it.

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Too many needless government agencies in Ontario

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Mar 08 2012
Ontario has 82 taxpayer-funded health agencies… Even when they’re benign, they diffuse health decisions over so many different bodies that it’s impossible for Ontarians to keep track. And they’re expensive. Many are headed by well-paid executives and provide jobs for hundreds of government appointees… at a time of austerity, Ontarians need to know why the government needs so many stand-alone health agencies… There isn’t likely to be a better time than now to cull these agencies (plus the 526 that report to other ministers)… the public is primed for belt-tightening.

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Women in the dark about massive Ontario study of female health

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Mar 06 2012
The most useful chapters for women seeking practical guidance are: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, reproductive health and older women’s health. The chapters on cancer and musculoskeletal conditions (arthritis, osteoporosis) identify gender disparities, regional disparities and socioeconomic parities, but they don’t tell women much about how to improve their odds… it could be a catalyst for change. Its research team estimates that if Ontario had a truly equitable health-care system, there would be 230,000 fewer people with disabilities and 3,373 fewer premature deaths in the province’s big cities.

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Tax food, Toronto economist advocates

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Mar 01 2012
Ottawa could use the $39 billion gained by implementing a pure value-added tax to improve the poor. But would Harper use the windfall that way? Bolstering social programs would be antithetical to everything he has said and done since taking office. Reducing income taxes might tempt him, but it wouldn’t do the poor much good — most don’t pay income taxes… As an economic theory, Smart’s scheme may be defensible. But outside the safety of academe, it is a prescription for more hardship and more hunger.

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Pensions: Harper gov’t pits generations against each other

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Feb 26 2012
It knew Canada’s dependency ratio (the number of retirees relative to the number of workers) would soon start rising. Number-crunchers had been urging governments to wake up for years. Instead of doing that, the Conservatives increased federal spending, wiping out the $13 billion surplus they inherited from the previous Liberal government. Now they’re warning Canadians the country’s 60-year-old pension program is unsustainable.

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Posted in Child & Family Policy Context | 1 Comment »

Outsourcing: the new way to balance government budgets in Canada

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Feb 21 2012
It is sometimes necessary to bring in private contractors to provide specialized knowledge or technical expertise. But not for budgets. They are the direction-setting documents of government… But today, leaders’ speeches consist mostly of generalities. And spending estimates are rarely examined by Parliament. By default, budgets have become the road map to the future. To ensure that they reflect the choices of the people — not just those of the leader — the budget-making process must be as transparent as possible, especially now as all three levels of government embark on retrenchment campaigns that will require difficult sacrifices. Yet each leader has made — or tried to make — the process more opaque.

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Posted in Inclusion Debates | 1 Comment »

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