Latest Policy Bytes

Airships, A Permanent Solution to High Northern Food Costs?

April 25, 2016 - Areas of inner-cities where most large grocery stores have closed are being called urban food-deserts. A transportation connection has been drawn between the food insecurity of urban food-deserts and the health of citizens. The inner-cities have higher rates of diabetes because some residents cannot afford the travel costs to reach a large grocery store outside the urban core. Consequently, they shop where they can walk, at corner stores, where nutrition is not the objective and “junk food” is prominent.

The North is a great place for a Basic Income Pilot

April 11, 2016 - There was a bit of a surprise present for policy wonks in the recent provincial budget. The province committed to launching a basic income pilot project in Ontario. The core idea is fairly simple. Everyone in a community would be guaranteed some basic amount of money upon which to live.

Born for Tax Reasons

March 29, 2016 - As we wind down 2015, I thought it would be timely to revisit a topic that I first explored in my inaugural blog post, posted just over two years ago to today. That blog post talked about research that had been conducted that people time deaths to benefit from a lower tax regime. You might be interested to know that research has similarly shown that people also time births to benefit from lower taxes or higher tax benefits. What, you say?! Before you start thinking that people are making plans nine months ago, what we are really talking about is manipulating the delivery date.

Tax Implications of the Second-hand Economy

March 21, 2016 - This morning I had a lovely interview with Steve Paikin, host of TVO’s The Agenda, regarding my research on the second-hand economy. Wonderfully, the conversation turned to the tax implications of the second-hand economy and his questions have inspired this blog post. Here I will parse all the tax rules regarding second-hand transactions.

Is there any hope in the Northern separatist threat?

March 14, 2016 - In my February column, I talked about how shifting to proportional representation in place of our current first-past-the-post electoral system could give Northern Ontario more clout in the halls of power down there in Ottawa. Interestingly enough, as I was crafting that piece someone else was reviving another idea meant to give Northern Ontario more power over its own future right here at home: Separation! Vive la Northern Ontario libre!

Rescuing First Nations Youth: Shannen's Educational Journey and its Lessons

February 29, 2016 - Shannen Koostachin’s personal odyssey is a deeply moving story. Her 2007-10 children’s campaign for a ‘safe and comfy’ school in Attawapiskat First Nation spawned “Shannen’s Dream,” a Canadian youth-driven movement identifying glaring educational inequities and alerting us to the urgent need to improve funding of on-reserve First Nations education.

Electoral Reform – what is best for the North?

February 22, 2016 - There is a growing national debate about electoral reform in Canada. Putting aside issues of democracy, representativeness, fairness and government stability for a moment, let’s focus on what is known as “realpolitik.” Which electoral system would give those of us here in the North the biggest say in national policy-making?

Yukon First Nation an innovating trail builder

February 16, 2016 - The entrepreneurial spirit of Carcross, Yukon should not be underestimated. It was the community’s Tlingit people who first struck the gold that sparked the Klondike Gold Rush, after all.

Northern Reflections

January 18, 2016 - It was a banner year for Northern Policy Institute in 2015. After ringing in the New Year, we hit the ground running and we are already hard at work on new research projects, collaborative efforts, and events for 2016. But before we focus on what’s down the road for us and Northern Ontario, we wanted to take a look back on our highlights from last year and review our work and its impact in the region. 

Government must avoid decision based evidence seeking

January 11, 2016 - Evidence-based decision making is all the rage nowadays. Everyone, of every political stripe and in favour of every cause, claims to be advocating that decisions should reflect the “evidence”. Of course, they tend to be a little picky about what they choose to cite as evidence and even more particular about how the evidence is presented. While governments at all levels are to be applauded for at least stating their intent to be driven by data and evidence, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.