For the last 20 years, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy has played an essential role as an independent and critical voice, providing rich, evidence-based research and analysis to inform public opinion and policy. Its recent 20th anniversary celebration presented a look back, with a look forward, at Canadian public policy.
Caledon’s three principle policy consultants – Ken Battle, Michael Mendelson, and Sherri Torjman – presented a look back, with a look forward, at Canadian public policy. Speakers also included Caledon’s founder Alan Broadbent and Environics President Michael Adams. A wrap-up address by Caledon Board member Tom Barber ended the day.
Videos of these powerful presentations are now available below.
Alan Broadbent: Welcome and Introduction
Ken Battle: Architecture of Federal Income Security in Canada, with a commentary by Ken Jackson
Sherri Torjman: Social Policy Challenges for Canada, with a commentary by André Picard
Michael Mendelson: Is Canada (Still) a Fiscal Union? With a commentary by Richard Simeon
Tom Barber: Wrap-Up
- Transcript of introductory remarks by Alan Broadbent, Chairman of Caledon
- The next 20 years of policy in Canada – 20th anniversary presentations by Ken Battle, Sherri Torjman and Michael Mendelson
- Five Good Ideas about Policy with Sherri Torjman
- Caledon rescues data
For the last 20 years, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy has played an essential role as an independent and critical voice, providing rich, evidence-based research and analysis to inform public opinion and policy. At its recent 20th anniversary celebration, Caledon’s three principle policy consultants – Ken Battle, Michael Mendelson, and Sherri Torjman – presented a look back, with a look forward, at Canadian public policy.
Here are their presentations:
Architecture of Federal Income Security in Canada
By Ken Battle
A brand new study from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, The Impact of Redistribution on Income Inequality in Canada and the Provinces, 1981-2010 (PDF), written by our colleague Andrew Sharpe and his associate Evan Capeluck, has arrived just in time for Caledon’s 20th anniversary event. It adds valuable evidence on the redistributive role of the Canadian state – which is the topic of my talk today.
Contrary to what many people believe, government – by means of income taxes and transfers – significantly reduces market income inequality. At last count, 2010, taxes and transfers reduced market inequality by close to one quarter (by 23.7 percent), mostly (70.7 percent) as a result of income security programs, with 29.3 percent due to income taxes. Looking over the long term, from 1981 to 2010, government has made a significant difference, offsetting rising market income inequality by 44 percent.
But Canada could do a lot better.
Disability and the Aging Society: Social Policy Challenges for Canada
By Sherri Torjman
Over the past two decades, Caledon has focused on several aspects of disability including poverty, disability supports and participation in society. Our work will continue to address those issues. We have broadened our scope in recent years to include some distinct, but related, issues around an aging population.
I will discuss disability and the aging society separately. While these areas are linked, they are clearly distinct. The disability community has always warned against confounding disability issues with seniors’ concerns. But there are a few crossover points, especially with respect to community supports.
Is Canada (still) a fiscal union?
By Michael Mendelson
If the economic commentators are to be believed there is at least one lesson from the never-ending Euro crisis: monetary union without fiscal union is unsustainable. Canada is a monetary union, but are we still a practicing fiscal union? Or has our fiscal union become so weakened that we are now more like the Euro-zone: ten more or less sovereign provinces tied together in a monetary union without effective programs to compensate adequately for fiscal imbalance between the provinces?
Canada is among the most decentralized federations in the developed world. Unlike most federations, our provinces are sovereign in their own areas of jurisdiction, meaning that the federal government cannot override provincial laws. Perhaps more importantly, the provinces also have sovereign taxing power and the ability to tap all significant tax sources. The original Constitution, the British North America Act, intended to give the federal government fiscal supremacy by according it the sole right to levy indirect taxes – mainly customs duties, which at the time were the overwhelming source of government revenue. But things did not turn out as planned. Custom duties have become trivial in the modern world. In contrast, provinces have sole access to most revenue derived from selling the rights to exploit natural resources. Natural resources have turned into such a significant source of revenue that provinces in aggregate likely now have greater fiscal capacity than the federal government. But provincial resource revenue is extremely unevenly distributed. This uneven distribution of a major source of revenue compounds already unequal economic levels among the provinces, making it doubly difficult for the federal government to address fiscal imbalances – even if it had the will to do so.