"The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer." Here is an oft-repeated assertion that serves as a ready-made conclusion for debates on various topics, from free trade to tax reductions. Indeed, one broadly held view is that economic growth does not benefit the poor. The revenue of the poor might not increase at all or not increase as fast as that of the rich, so that economic growth would create more inequality. What do the facts tell us?
This Economic Note examines the growth of Canadian government over the last few decades and provide some empirical estimates of the cost of this government expansion on the lives of Canadians generally and Quebecers in particular. Like many medicines, a small dose of government may lead to a healthy and vigorous society, but it can be a dangerous poison if taken in too large a dose.
The underground water situation in Quebec, particularly in areas north of Montreal, is distinguished by poorly defined usage rights and by a price which is practically nothing. Among other findings, this study shows that the economic value for the underground water resources in the area north of Montreal is $250 million.
Few of you intend to spend much time learning new terms and memorizing formulas. You don’t like the idea of getting lost in details that concern only professional economists. What you want are summaries of economic issues that really matter – those that help you make better personal choices and improve your understanding of the complex world we all live in. And you want these summaries to be presented clearly and precisely, with a bare minimum of economic jargon. This little book aims to achieve these two goals.
Electronic commerce is becoming a major element in the competitiveness of industrialized economies. Among other advantages, it reduces the transaction costs of economic agents, raises the productivity of organizations, and facilitates international exchanges. Electronic commerce also ensures greater transparency in price mechanisms since all you need are a few clicks of the mouse to compare offers from different producers. This increases competition in various markets to the benefit of buyers. A more competitive economy ensures a better allocation of resources, bringing benefits to all economic agents.
The Canadian government’s recent leaps in tax revenues were a pleasant surprise for voters following an extremely long and unusual period of budget deficits. If these increases are not temporary but result from economic growth that will remain stronger than in the past on a permanent basis, the question arises of how to use these budget “surpluses.” This Note looks at these questions, first presenting the potential impact of introducing a dual-rate tax system as proposed by the Canadian Alliance party and then identifying elements in a tax system to support rises in productivity, employment and living standards.
The Report Card on Quebec’s Secondary Schools provides an annual, independent measurement of the extent to which each school meets basic needs. The Report Card thus serves several purposes. For one thing, it facilitates school improvement, and for parents who have a choice between several educational institutions, it can help them make an enlightened decision.
A widely held view suggests that the main function of government is to help the poor. Do the data we have for Canada justify this opinion? Slightly under one-third of spending by all levels of public administration in Canada is devoted to social services, in other words to the various transfer payments supporting individual incomes along with related administrative expenses. If social programs are defined more broadly, we would have to add the 28% of spending that goes to health care and education (in roughly equal proportions). In Canada we thus have about 60% of public spending going toward social programs in the broader sense.
We are proposing a new approach to the financing, insuring and delivery of medical and hospital services. While retaining universal entitlement to Medicare insurance, as a core publicly funded service, we propose a new concept of universal private choice. This includes Medicare, as well as voluntary private medical, hospital and health insurance alternatives, as exist in all other OECD countries. Our aim is to improve quality, access and choice for all Canadians.
Among the obstacles to reducing unemployment are those created by certain provisions in the Labour Code. One of the obstacles is the “closed shop,” dating from the era of the first British trade unions (1860). In the same spirit, the Rand formula stipulates that obtaining a job can be conditional on paying dues to the union at the company. Both these formulas are currently in use in Quebec. This exerts a constraint on businesses by requiring them to hire only those who pay into (Rand formula) or join (closed shop) the house union.