More and more local governments and education institutions are facing questions about the impacts of climate change, and the risk of having money invested in fossil fuel companies. Mike McGinn, Mayor of Seattle, recently wrote a letter to the President of Harvard, outlining why Seattle decided to persue fossil-fuel divestment. You can read the full READ MORE
The Trustees of British Columbia’s School District 5 (Southeast Kootenay) recently passed the following motion, and wrote an explanatory letter to the Honourable George Abbott, BC Minister of Education. The motion, and letter, communicate challenges they face within the current structure of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, and suggests improvements that would help their district READ MORE
Listen to our webinar on Tools for Fair Taxation, with economist and CCPA research associate Hugh Mackenzie on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013. Click here to watch and listen to the full Webinar. Click here to download Hugh Mackenzie’s Powerpoint. Click here to read Hugh’s article on Local Government Finance in Ontario, in our Innovative Strategies Leadership Handbook. Hugh Mackenzie is principal in READ MORE
Local government officials meet at the Union of BC Municipalities the week of September 24th through 28th. Climate change, increased social challenges and aging infrastructure will be hot topics. The public is on their side. Polling by the Columbia Institute Centre for Civic Governance shows that British Columbians trust their local politicians twice as much READ MORE
Listen to our webinar on Tools for Fair Taxation, with economist and CCPA research associate Hugh Mackenzie, that happened Tuesday, Oct 29th, 2013. Click here to watch and listen to the full Webinar. Click here to download Hugh Mackenzie’s Powerpoint. Hugh Mackenzie is principal in an economic consulting business, Hugh Mackenzie and Associates, based in Toronto. He has worked for over 35 years in a variety of capacities related to READ MORE
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is calling on the Government of Canada to develop a twenty year plan with predictable funding to fix its crumbling infrastructure. In it’s recommendations to the Governmentof Canada’s Long-TermInfrastructure Plan Consultation , the FCM is calling for measures that include long-term and predictable infrastructure funding; investment to leverage additional funds; renewal and improvements to the Gas Tax and the Building Canada READ MORE
Ontario is proceeding with it’s Provincial budget discussions on an eerily similar path to budget discussions in Ottawa this week. Included in Ontario’s budget bill is a section called Schedule 28. Citizen groups, including the Ontario Health Coalition, the Council of Canadians and the Social Planning Network of Ontario are raising alarm bells. The groups READ MORE
Public health care, garbage pick up, safe food, clean water, public parks, emergency services, higher learning, the chance to live in great communities with the hope of reaching our personal dreams. It’s time to start having the conversation about what our taxes contribute to a healthy society. See the video from the CCPA .
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has released a report to help understand the underlying health of Canadian cities and communities. Read more at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities .
The recently formed BC mayor’s caucus calls for reform to the current ad hoc municipal funding system. Mayors from 86 municipalities insist the current system need to be replaced with one that gives cities more certainty over funding so they can partake in long term planning that will better communities. Read more at The Globe & Mail.
Eighty-six British Columbia Mayors are meeting in Penticton this week to discuss the increase in costs being downloaded to cities, and how they can respond. Canadian cities only receive 8% of the tax base, and as budgets get cut elsewhere, they are having to deal with more and more costs in their communities. Not only READ MORE
In 2009 the city of Toronto passed a law that would see billboards taxed between $1000-$24,000 depending on size and location. Advertising giant Pattison challenged the tax in the Ontario Supreme Court. The court ruled that only Billboards erected after April 2010 could have the tax applied. The city has since appealed the ruling and READ MORE
The closing of the Catalyst Mill and an increase in the cost of city services has led to a $3.6 million budget shortfall for Vancouver Island’s Campbell River. In an attempt to maintain city services, council has approved a 13.6% property tax increase, but the mayor hates the idea. “The process is flawed. The financial READ MORE
An article in the Walrus talks about the financial decline of Canada’s economic hub. Though Toronto remains a vibrant, diverse and exciting place to live, poor economic and structural decision making have left the city with a crumbling infrastructure, service cuts, and traffic congestion that is creating frustration for everyone. With the current Mayor’s decision READ MORE
School districts in BC are caught in a Catch 22. Provincial carbon neutral measures are forcing districts to pay for carbon offsets that don’t actually reduce the districts’ own emissions AND drain funds from education operating budgets. The bigger the emissions gap, the more offsets districts have to buy; the more they have to buy, READ MORE
Currently municipalities receive 10 cents for every dollar collected in gas taxes, but the Globe and Mail suggests that many municipal woes – from traffic congestion to crumbling infrastructure, would be fixed if the full amount were transferred. At present, “traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto Area alone costs the economy $3.3-billion in lost productivity.” READ MORE
Multi-billionaire US investor Warren Buffet says that that wealthy people like himself are not paying their fair share of taxes and governments need to start collecting more revenue from the ‘super rich’. To read Buffet’s New York Times op-ed, titled “Stop Coddling the Super Rich”, click here
With all the talk of government debt recently — Toronto, $4.7 billion; Ontario, $240 billion; the U.S., $14.6 trillion — the spectacular figures and the concept of debt itself have become so abstract many people don’t even understand the conversation. The Toronto Star recently spoke with Dr. Enid Slack, director of the University of Toronto’s Institute on Municipal Finance READ MORE
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has released a commentary questioning the legitimacy of the BC Government’s carbon neutral policy. The CCPA takes issue with the fact that not only do schools and hospitals have to buy credits from the crown corporation Pacific Carbon Trust , where carbon offsets cost as much as four times what they would at a private offset READ MORE
The governing NDP in Manitoba is promising a 1% transfer of the PST to municipalities. This stable source of funding will provide municipalities an extra $33 million in next year’s budget. Some say it’s not enough. Read more at the CBC.
A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and Sierra Club BC states that the BC carbon tax is “revenue-negative” and increases social inequality. It argues that instead of funding corporate tax cuts, revenues from the tax should be spent on climate change investments such as public transportation and green job creation. READ MORE
The OECD has released a report describing how taxes – a key policy tool– are being used to encourage local and global environmental goals. It draws on case studies from the UK, Israel, Sweden, Spain, Japan and others. Download the executive summary here .
On October 2, 2009, Gordon Campbell announced the creation of the Local Government Elections Task Force to make recommendations for legislative changes intended to improve the electoral process for local government elections across the province. Read more about the Task Force here .
Premier Campbell admits that harmonized sales tax (HST) shifts $1.9 billion per year in tax from businesses to B.C. families. He claims that HST will boost business investment, and garners support from a case study the Maritime provinces, where the adoption of HST had positive economic impacts. The study does however have several significant flaws, READ MORE
In the aftermath of the recent economic recession, many U.S. state governments are tempted to follow Chicago’s successful use of P3s to raise money. P3s, or “public-private partnerships” hand public assets to private businesses to run them as profit enterprises. P3 critics however argue that states will subjecting taxpayers to higher costs and greater risks READ MORE
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is proposing a one year $ 33 billion dollar economic stimulus package that would create 407,000 new jobs, boost the economy by 3% and protect those hardest hit by recession. Unlike the contents of the Conservative’s upcoming budget, the CCPA is not propsing any tax cuts. Read more here.
The BC municipalities of Abbotsford, Langley and Surrey are currently exploring options for light rail transit despite having no commitment from the province to fund it. Read more in The Tyee .
City of Ottawa officials are anticipating a public backlash when new property tax assessments are mailed out later this year. Increases in property values, which had previously been frozen for the past three years, has promped the city to begin an advertising campaign to alert residents to the fact that the province controls the assessment READ MORE
A poll commissioned by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has found that there is consensus across Canada that municipal governments are under-funded. The poll showed that 90% of people believe that the federal government should provide financial support to assist municipal governments with infrastructure issues and did not see property taxes or spending cuts as reasonable READ MORE
The Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto looks at municipal finance and governance issues of Canada’s large cities and city-regions. This site is chock-full of presentations, articles and papers relating to municipal finance. For example, check out The Impact of Municipal Finance and Governance on Urban READ MORE
This guide, prepared by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Sheltair Group, lays out a vision of what ‘green infrastructure’ looks like. Green infrastructure means systems that are distributed, clustered, interconnected, integrated, service-oriented, responsive, renewable, low-imapct, appropriate, multi-purpose and finally, adaptable. The guide also explains the social, economic and environmental benefits of green infrastructure READ MORE
This report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives details problems with BC’s budgeting methodolgy, in particular the problems associated with huge “surprise” surpluses. The report contains a useful table showing healthcare, social services, and education expenditures as a percentage of GDP. Check it out here .