Latest Policy Bytes

Further Examination of the ORPP - Part Two

September 15, 2014 - A key topic for Ontarians as of late is pension plan reform. While looming retirement realities seem dismal, the provincial government claims to have a solution. Presented as a step in the right direction, the ORPP professes to provide a reliable, sustainable supplemental pension plan for the province. Although this retirement assistance package has the potential to do some good, economic theorists supported by extensive literature highlight significant design flaws in the ORPP that need to be meted out prior to implementation if anyone is to truly benefit. In light of these assessments it is important to determine whom the ORPP actually serves, where does it fall short, and would it prove harmful to those it is intended to help?

Picking Up the Pieces: A Community-School-Based Approach to First Nations Education Renewal

September 11, 2014 - First Nations Education has been the focus of a great deal of controversy and discussion in recent months. The latest proposed “solution” put forth in Bill C-33 was built around an enhanced federal financial contribution. The bill was, however, ultimately rejected by many first nations and subsequently abandoned by the government. . In “Picking up the Pieces,” Paul Bennett and Jonathan Anuik demonstrate why the education reform proposed in Bill C-33 missed the mark. More money in the form of increased capital funding might have brought modest gains to on-reserve schooling, but replacing one bureaucracy with another rarely changes the state of education or improves the quality of student learning at the school or community level. 

Exploring Ontario's Pension Proposal - Part One

September 9, 2014 - According to the Ontario Provincial government, the Federal government has failed to enhance the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) to reflect today’s economic and demographic realities. The most recent Ontario Provincial budget proposal outlines a host of reasons for this; explanations that will be familiar to anyone who has read a story about Canadian pensions recently. Today, people are not saving enough, they are living longer and many do not have workplace pension plans.

Importance of support for child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

September 5, 2014 - Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological development disorder which causes difficulties with social interaction and communication. The degree of the disorder varies from individual to individual; some individuals are high functioning while others have severe intellectual disabilities. The disorder is permanent and has significant effect on the individual, their families and caregivers.[1] Autism Ontario states that in Canada 1 in 94 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)[2]. It is believed that this trend is increasing, however, the exact number is unknown due to the lack of statistics and the degree of the disorder.

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.