Latest Policy Bytes

Exploring Taxation Alternatives: Why a penny saved is not always a penny taxed

September 3, 2014 - Taxation and the provision of social services have been policy considerations for provinces, states and nations for well over a century. The problems begin to occur in proposals for the revision of the tax system. With suggestions of basic income tax credits, negative income tax, and flat taxes, the political air is thick with ideas on how to “save the taxpayers money” and “increase social services.”

Northern Policy Institute Says Goodbye to its Summer Interns

This year, Northern Policy Institute hired its first group of summer interns. These interns were all selected for their varying areas of expertise: policy research, operations management, communications, and public relations. Although these interns come from different educational backgrounds, they all have two things in common: their excellent work ethic, and their love of Northern Ontario.

Half a loaf? Getting maximum value from the Ring of Fire

August 9, 2014 - When I was a youngster, we had a neighbour who kept a jar of coins. When kids would visit, he’d offer the jar and say, “take as many as you like.. If you grabbed too many, your bulging fist wouldn’t make it through the neck of the jar. Lesson learned.
As the development of the Ring of Fire moves ahead, those involved will need to make complicated decisions on how much of the Ring’s wealth to keep in Ontario and how much to let go.
At this point, there are many scenarios of where the North’s chromite might end up. It’s certain that the raw ore will be reduced to concentrate at the mine sites, but after that, it’s a guess. When Cliffs Natural Resources was grabbing the headlines, the plan was to have the concentrate shipped to Sudbury to be turned into ferro chrome at a new smelter they would build in Capreol.
Right now, it’s debatable whether the Ring’s chromite will ever see an Ontario smelter due to provincial electrical costs. Quebec and Manitoba sell their power to industries for less than three cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), while Ontario’s rates are based on a spot market that is often double that.
Other than government intervention, there is nothing that would stop a company from shipping the chromite directly to another province or to another country. At the very least, Northerners want the chromite smelted into ferro chrome in the North.
The pinnacle of value-added chromite would be the production of stainless steel from that ferro chrome, an industry that does not yet exist in Canada. There’s only one country in the world that has all four resources to make stainless steel by combining cheap electricity, iron, chromite and nickel: Canada. Thanks to the Ring of Fire, the chromite, iron and nickel can all be found in Northern Ontario. But the cheap power is in its neighbouring provinces.
Businesses can’t be expected to pay higher rates if the hydro is cheaper nearby, unless there are significant other factors to offset that cost. The introduction of subsidized hydro rates for industries in the North would be one approach to compete with Quebec and Manitoba, albeit on the backs of all Ontarians.

Using Development Charges to Encourage Growth

August 7, 2014 - The City of Greater Sudbury collects a development charge for every new building constructed in order to recover costs for extending municipal services, such as water, fire, police and parks, to that building.

Gentrification and the North: Culture Injection, City Protection

August 6, 2014 - We hear that Sudbury is taking steps toward a more energetic and enticing downtown. The new School of Architecture, approval for two new restaurant patios, the “Lululemon” pop-up store on Cedar, as well as the management turn-overs and facelifts of several notable eateries in the CBD are used as examples of ‘good progress.’ There is much left to do however to attract people to live, and not just work or visit, downtown. The newly proposed $12 million-dollar transformation of the old brewery on Lorne Street by developer, Greg Oldenburg, is a big step forward on this front. The possibilities of this project, assuming that it reaches fruition as expected, are substantial. Commercial space, residential space, general revitalization; these are the first steps in a larger social project that is taking place – much needed downtown gentrification.

Grassroots models best hope for native education reforms

July 23, 2014 - Canada’s Assembly of First Nations (AFN) descended upon Halifax for its 25th annual meeting this week, and one of the most contentious issues on the table was First Nations education reform. Chiefs representing half of the 630 First Nations across Canada were there, in large measure, to decide on the next move after rejecting the Harper government’s Bill C-33, aimed at completely revamping on-reserve education.

Who Does Northern Policy Institute Work For?

July 22, 2014 - Simply put, we work for you, the people of Northern Ontario. We have an independent Board that sets our strategic direction and a staff that implements it, but that direction and the decisions related to it, are informed by the views of every northerner that connects with us.