Latest Policy Bytes

Getting the Small Things Right: How data suppression distorts Northern realities

July 18, 2016 - Northern Policy Institute recently released a briefing note about how data is (or isn’t) being collected in Northern Ontario, and how this can impact our knowledge and perception of important public policy issues in the region. The first part of the report focused on the perils of the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), and the second part zeroed in on a new idea: creating a set of regional economic accounts for Northern Ontario.

Education or bust

June 13, 2016 - The first in a series of papers Northern Policy Institute has commissioned in partnership with all six northern workforce planning boards outlines some serious challenges in the Timiskaming District. The authors conclude that, to borrow a phrase, absent significant improvements in rural education outcomes, the region is facing “a future of people without jobs and jobs without people”.

Incentives are powerful

June 6, 2016 - If you have ever studied economics, you will know that one of its calling cries is that people respond to incentives. Indeed you can even consider economics to be the study of how and why people respond to incentives.

Show me the money, in Northern Ontario

May 9, 2016 - You can’t make a living in the North, right? That is what we northerners are often told. The real money is down south or out west. Well, not so fast. 

Missing the Mark on Spring Bear Hunt

May 2, 2016 - This week marks the return of the spring bear hunt in Ontario. This past February, the province confirmed that it was extending the spring bear hunt for an additional five years, expanding it to all wildlife management units that currently have fall bear hunting, and offering hunting privileges to non-residents.

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.