Quebec’s Health Minister announced a reduction in the number of medical school admissions last year in order to keep doctors from ending up unemployed in the future. And yet, one in five Quebecers still does not have a family doctor, and proportionally, Quebec has fewer doctors than most industrialized countries. Is this government control over access to medical training the best way to meet Quebecers’ health care needs?
Each new sugaring-off season brings its share of controversies, with stories about seizures of syrup from producers making headlines. The rules that apply to Quebec maple syrup producers are indeed very restrictive, in addition to stimulating the growth of their competitors in neighbouring provinces and U.S. states.
Is it true that economic growth only benefits a small, privileged elite? This seems to be the belief of certain groups that regularly denounce a “crisis of inequality” in many countries, including Canada. Yet this perspective, which considers wealth creation to be a zero-sum game in which the poorest are prisoners of their economic circumstances, is simply mistaken.
In November 2017, Quebec announced a $1.1-billion personal income tax reduction. Some argued then that the reason the government could afford to reduce the tax burden was that it had reduced spending on health and education, and that these sectors had been starved by years of successive cuts. However, both health care spending and education spending have increased considerably in recent years.
Even though corporate subsidies have often been criticized for their undesirable economic effects and for discriminating in favour of certain sectors or companies, they continue to be very present in the Quebec economy. Quebec pays out twice as much in corporate subsidies as Ontario, proportional to the size of its economy. This policy does not make Quebecers richer.
The Canadian federation was founded in 1867 in part to ensure a common, unified market across the country. This ideal is enshrined in Section 121 of the Constitution. Yet while substantial trade does take place between the provinces, the dream of a truly unified market remains elusive. An important case about to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, though, may help bring down the barriers the provinces have erected to restrict trade over the years.
While Health Canada is preparing to completely change the way maximum prices for new drugs are established, it seems that little attention is being paid to the impact of this kind of public policy on the availability of new drugs. Yet similar policies are responsible for quite unenviable situations in certain countries.
The Canadian government and the CRTC have adopted various policies over the past decade aimed at increasing the number of players in the wireless sector. Although such policies have had several negative consequences, there is today a well-established fourth wireless provider, owning its own infrastructure, in almost all regions of the country. Ottawa now wants to push this interventionist logic even further by favouring resellers (called Mobile Virtual Network Operators, or MVNOs, in telecom jargon). Would such a policy bring more competition to the telecommunications industry and the intended benefits to consumers?
The federal government still has not made its intentions clear regarding the possibility of increasing the inclusion rate of the capital gains tax from 50% to 75%. Since this kind of tax entails detrimental effects, a change of policy should go in the exact opposite direction, as some other countries have done, and either substantially reduce the capital gains tax or simply abolish it.
Canada’s oil and natural gas sector is currently going through hard times. Donald Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly promised to improve the business environment in the United States by reducing the tax and regulatory burden, especially as it affects this sector. As Canada’s competitiveness in oil and gas development depends almost entirely on its position relative to that of its powerful neighbour, it is important to understand what is going on right now in the United States and the effects of U.S. policy on our economy.