Posts Tagged ‘Canada’


Back in 2011, the communities of Vermont—which Calvin Coolidge referred to as “this brave little state”—managed to survive and rebuild after Tropical Storm Irene.

Now, as Molly Worthen explains, they’re bravely rebuilding the state’s healthcare system, after much pushing and prodding from the Vermont Progressive Party.

The Progressives owe much of their success to the oddities of Vermont politics. But their example offers hope that the most frustrating dimensions of our political culture can change, despite obstacles with deep roots in American history.

Green Mountain Care won’t begin until at least 2017, but Vermont liberals are optimistic. “Americans want to see a model that works,” Senator Bernie Sanders told The Atlantic in December. (Mr. Sanders is an independent, but a longtime ally of the Progressives.) “If Vermont can be that model it will have a profound impact on discourse in this country.”

Before you dismiss that prospect as wishful thinking, consider: That’s how national health care happened in Canada. A third party’s provincial experiment paved the way for national reform. In 1946, the social-democratic government of Saskatchewan passed a law providing free hospital care to most residents. The model spread to other provinces, and in 1957 the federal government adopted a cost-sharing measure that evolved into today’s universal single-payer system.

Only in Canada

Posted: 3 February 2014 in Uncategorized
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Yes, a Canadian member of the 1 percent, not an American—in response to the recent Oxfam report according to which “the 85 richest people own the wealth of half of the world’s population.”

Clearly, unionization rates in the United States and Canada have diverged considerably since 1970. The question is, why?

Kris Warner [pdf] discusses a variety of possible explanations, from structural changes to the economy through the desire for unionization on the part of workers to the failures of organized labor itself. Warner then focuses on a key factor: employer opposition to unions together with relatively weak labor law.

the legal process for unionization and first contract arbitration are perhaps the most important policy differences, and illustrate the vast difference in labor policy between the United States and the country most similar to it. Compared to Canada, many workers in the United States are not able to exercise their right to freely join and form unions and participate in collective bargaining, in large part due to employer opposition, which current labor policy fails to adequately address.


The situation in the United States is even worse when compared to 21 other advanced capitalist countries, especially when taking into account union coverage rates:

Tens of thousands of protesters once again took to the streets of Montreal—this time to support a change of government in the upcoming provincial election.

Thousands of students and their supporters marched through Montreal on Friday in a demonstration against tuition fee hikes and an emergency anti-protest law that led to the mid-May suspension of classes in Quebec.

Protest of the day

Posted: 30 May 2012 in Uncategorized
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The “casseroles” (pots and pans) movement in Canada—a phenomenon that first grew out of student protests against an increase in tuition fees earlier this year and escalated in size and media coverage after the passage of Bill 78 brought unprecedented numbers of people to street marches in Montreal and evening rallies of banging pots and pans across Quebec—is now threatening to spread across the country.

Tens of thousands of people clogged Montreal’s streets to commemorate the 100th day of Quebec’s student strikes and to protest the new security law.

By 2:30 pm on 3 January (the first working day of the year), Canada’s best paid 100 CEOs would have pocketed the equivalent of what it would take the average Canadian working full-time all year to earn.

That’s how the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives illustrates the findings of its new report, Recession-Proof: Canada’s 100 Best Paid CEOs.

The total average compensation for Canada’s best paid 100 CEOs was $6,643,895 in 2009 — a stark contrast from the total average Canadian income of $42,988 and the total average minimum wage worker’s income of $19,877.

Even in the worst of recession, Canada’s best paid 100 CEOs earned, on average, 155 times more than Canadians earning an average income.

Canadians, of course, have nothing on us Americans. According to the AFL-CIO’s analysis of available pay data from 292 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, chief executives at the nation’s largest corporations received $9.25 million in average total compensation in 2009, which was 263 times average worker pay.

A tale of three cities

Posted: 8 September 2010 in Uncategorized
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Toronto is often seen as a pleasant city of multiple, diverse neighborhoods.

J. David Hulchanski, of the Center for Urban and Community Studies of the University of Toronto, has shattered that myth, by mapping the changes in income across the city between 1970 and 2000.

What he found is that, over the course of 30 years, the pattern of who lives where in Toronto on the basis of socio-economic characteristics has changed dramatically.

City #1, consisting of 20 percent of the population whose income has increased by more than 20 percent since 1970, has the highest income and is mainly white and white-collar.

City #2, 40 percent of the population whose income increased or decreased by less than 20 percent, has an average household income about half of that of City #1 and about 40 percent of the city’s manufacturing jobs, and is close to city average in both ethnic composition and percentage of immigrants.

City #3, also about 40 percent of the population, has experienced a precipitous fall in average income and the largest growth in population, is 60 percent nonwhite and non-native, and is more than one quarter blue-collar.

The three cities that make up Toronto could not be more different. Their divergent paths also represent a fundamental change in the overall metropolitan area during the past 30 years:

the gap in incomes between rich and poor grew, real incomes for most people did not increase, more jobs became precarious (insecure, temporary, without benefits), and families living in poverty became more numerous. . .

These general trends played themselves out in Toronto’s neighbourhoods to the point at which the city could be viewed as three very different groups of neighbourhoods – or three separate cities. This pattern did not exist before.

There’s certainly nothing inevitable about this combination of polarization segregation in Toronto. But doing something about it begins with the recognition that it’s the best of times for a small minority and the worst of times for the majority of its inhabitants.