Blog

Honey, we blew up the post office! How we traded a working public utility for a business failure in one fell swoop

On December 11, 2013, Canada Post announced a new ‘Five Point Plan” to return the corporation to profitability. No more home delivery. Gone! Postal rates of a dollar a letter – a 59% increase. More unmanned kiosks Fewer sorting facilities More postal franchises. The goal here is clearly not to provide a good service or to move the mails. The clear goal is profitability as a means to the end of ensuring that Canada Post does not receive any tax money. That is what self-sustaining means as it applies to Canada Post. Spokesperson for Canada Post Anick Losier noted: “When we did our consultation, the one thing that was crystal clear is that Canadians don’t want to see a burden on their taxes.”[1] Well, as Aristotle once noted a couple…
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Raise the Minimum wage to $21.90 an hour? Just like 100 years ago…

In the first decades of the twentieth century, social justice was in the air. The UK brought in Old Age Pensions in 1908. The first minimum wage laws were brought in by Massachusetts in 1912[1]. BC and Manitoba adopted them in 1918.  Ontario and three other Provinces followed suit in 1920. Ontario is about to celebrate 100 years of workers’ compensation as it brought in the first Workers’ Compensation plan in 1914. Ontario announced its first widow’s pension in 1920 But one announcement in the USA was a real game-changer. On January 5, 1914, Henry Ford called reporters to the Ford Plant in Dearborn Michigan to hear an important announcement. “The Ford Motor Company, the greatest and most successful automobile manufacturing company in the world, will, on January 12, inaugurate…
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Mandela

His message was simple It gave us comfort And we understood As we welled up with pride That all of God’s children Steadfast in allegiance to truth Would make the decision In our concern for ourselves and others Safe from favouritism, self-interest, or preference in judgment That we would be free
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Really fast drivers, three Senators, Toronto’s mayor and the emergence of ‘Melford’

In my original blog (http://openpolicyontario.com/when-zero-tolerance-prevails-very-fast-drivers-three-senators-and-torontos-mayor/), I said that Mr. Ford could win the Toronto election next October if he did just one thing: acknowledge that he is now in a world of zero tolerance and he is being judged according to standards by which everyone else is not judged. He must say that he understands the enforcement regimen that is now in place, agree with it, and pull up his socks according to its standards. The reason for this is that his case is now very public (enormously so) and that late and begrudged admission to evidence has made (and will make) his story even more public. And as it appears that there is more evidence to come out, his persona will become even more public and better defined as…
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When zero-tolerance prevails: very fast drivers, three Senators, and Toronto’s mayor

Zero tolerance and unwritten rules There is a sign facing traffic on the southbound Don Valley Parkway in Toronto between York Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue that announces that the 90km per hour speed limit will be enforced with zero tolerance. The sign has been there for as long as I can remember likely dating from the mid 1990’s, shortly after the phrase was coined. “The term "Zero Tolerance" appeared for the first time in a report in 1994. The idea behind this expression can be traced back to the Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Act, approved in New Jersey in 1973…..According to scholars, zero tolerance is the concept of giving carte blanche to the police for the inflexible repression of minor offenses… ”[1] During periods when the Don Valley Parkway was not   congested, I conducted the personal experiment…
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Teaching what I want to teach because I like what I like…..another last word on David Gilmour

At bottom, David Gilmour conflates personal interest with public policy and tries to make the case that the arena in which he practices the former should be indistinguishable from the latter. The private and public in his case become one.  (More about that later!) OK - all of us have private interests that are ultimately legitimate for any of us to indulge if they don't hurt others: football, beer, ballet, origami, the Ballet Russe, poutine and/or crepe suzette. No matter. It's on your own time with your own friends... on your own nickel.  We are bored with your choices but thank God you did not invite us! Yet once I say in a public forum that I accept pay from a public institution with public funding to indulge my private…
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Bringing it all back home: Inflation, poverty lines and social assistance rates

 “Well, he hands you a nickel …He hands you a dime….He asks you with a grin…If you're havin' a good time... Then he fines you every time you slam the door” Bob Dylan, Maggie’s Farm, Bringing it all back home, 1965 This is a short piece that won’t take too long to read. I was just looking at the poverty line for 1993 in Canada for a single person. I chose 1993 because that was the last time social assistance in Ontario kept pace with inflation and it marked the year after the last time that Statistics Canada rebased (recalculated) the Low income Cut off (LICO). The LICO in 1993 for a single person was $16,482. In 2013, the after-tax low income Measure – perhaps the best measure of poverty…
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Here is your diagnosis and your bullet proof vest: Wear it in poor gealth (by Guest Blogger Pat Capponi)

“The only way I could think to do this was to ask myself if, God forbid, there is another shooting of a person with mental illness, what would we say we’d left undone?” That was what I posed to myself, police board chair Alok Mukherjee and Deputy Chief Mike Federico Tuesday, July 23, as we met at headquarters to discuss future directions of the board’s mental health sub-committee, which Alok and I co-chair. I am not speaking for the sub-committee or the Service or Alok. Dr. Mukherjee and I work well together, he’s knowledgeable, soft-spoken and tenacious, all important qualities when trying to manage and advise a service that at time resists, and at other times goes the extra mile when it comes to our input. Together with members of…
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Social assistance numbers in Ontario: Classic convergence or something else?

Currently social assistance beneficiaries (men, women and children over population) hover between 6.5% and 6.6% of Ontario's population. We have remained at this percentage since May 2011 which means that caseloads are at an equilibrium point, a point of relative calm. Since the late 1980's, Ontario's unemployment rate has tended to converge with the percentage of beneficiaries in a post-recession period. It is an odd convergence but it has just reached its silver anniversary of 25 years (the relation first showed strongly in 1988) with May's unemployment rate of 7.3% and social assistance recipiency at 6.6% -- less than a single percentage point. (For details see http://openpolicyontario.com/presentations/.) In June 2009, unemployment stood at 9.6% and social assistance beneficiaries at 6.0% of population. This 3.6% difference in percentage points, interestingly enough, was the largest divergence…
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Seventieth anniversary of Operation Husky: July 10, 1943 – July 10, 2013 – A lifetime of reflections on the Italian Campaign

In 1975, after finishing the first year of a doctoral program I would fail to complete, I visited friends in Groningen, Holland, in the first week of May. I had only the vaguest idea that I had happened upon an important 30th anniversary. I had arrived in the days leading up to VE-Day (Victory in Europe Day). My father had served in Italy in the Second World War. He had shipped out of Livorno to Marseille in early 1945 to join the reunification of the Canadian forces in Holland in the early spring of that year. Like so many fathers and sons in the mid-1970s, we had not talked all that much about the war. Remembrance Day ceremonies were in decline. It did not seem that important. I trudged out…
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