Recent Publications

January 2015

Caledon Institute Federal Policy Monitor
January's low oil prices and their impact on federal spending is the focus of a report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.  Two other PBO reports - the Fiscal Monitor and the Expenditure Monitor - provide details of government revenues and expenditures.   Previous issues of the Federal Monitor (2013, 2014) are searchable on the Caledon website

January 2015

Caledon Institute Provincial/Territorial Policy Monitor
Given January's focus on mental health, it is perhaps not surprising that two provinces - New Brunswick and Ontario - announced measures to improve access to care.  This month's Monitor also features several disability programming measures announced by Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory. Provincial/Territorial Monitors are searchable by jurisdiction and subject area on the Caledon website. They ofer a very powerful way to review and compare progress on social policy initiatives across the country.

Poverty Costs 2.5: Investing in Albertans

A Blueprint for Reducing Poverty in Alberta
Action to End Poverty in Alberta and Vibrant Communities Calgary have jointly released the follow-up 2.5 report to the 2.0 version of Poverty Costs Alberta.The report contains an updated profile of poverty in Alberta, using LIM-AT measures, and includes 60+
 poverty reduction policy recommendations that best reflect the current state of the province's socioeconomic environment.What does poverty in Alberta look like?Despite being the richest Canadian province, Alberta also experiences the largest income gap, with the top 1% of earners taking home 18 times that of the bottom 90% Albertans in poverty are often employed or permanently outside of the workforce.  Those who are on social assistance are receiving rates far below current poverty measures.An annual minimum wage salary in Alberta brings a single individual almost $2,000 below the Low Income Measure-After Tax77% of low-income earners in Alberta are over 20 years, and over 50% of minimum wage earners work the equivalent of full-time hours.As of March 31, 2012 1,445 Albertans graduated from the Housing First program, finding stable, long-term housing.  However, there is still 5,300 households waiting on housing in Calgary and EdmontonHighlighted recommendations to end poverty in AlbertaIncreasing social assistance rates to within 10% of the poverty line for all types of familiesProviding monthly supplementary food allowanceIncreasing asset exemptions Providing free public transportation and recreation to low-income householdsIncreasing the minimum wageEnsuring employees of all sectors receive at least a standard minimum wage.The creation of a provincial rent bank to act as an emergency fund for tenants at-risk of losing their housingFully-funded, universal, full-day kindergartenDeveloping a 'single point of entry' system for all income support programs to avoid inefficiencyWorking with financial institutions to limit the need for payday loan businesses and fringe lendersRead the full report and recommendations here

December 2014 Provincial/Territorial Policy Monitor

Caledon Institute social policy roundup
December saw lots of announcements from New Brunswick (including Throne Speech details) and Quebec (including Budget updates), and notable pieces from Saskatchewan (the appointment of a Poverty Reduction Advisory Group) and British Columbia (details of an innovation mental health facility).  

December 2014 Federal Policy Monitor

Caledon Institute social policy roundup
December's Federal Policy Monitor features several pieces related to mental health and corrections and mental health.  Look also for details of CPP and OAS rates.

L’itinérance au Québec: Premier portrait

The Health and Social Service Ministry of Quebec has just released the first comprehensive report on homelessness for the province.  The study is based on data from 41 homeless shelters across Quebec from 2012-13, including women and youth. View the report online.

November 2014 Provincial/Territorial Monitor

Monthly roundup of social-policy related announcements by the provinces and territories
Lots of activity reported in Ontario this month - Budget, Aboriginal Healing and Wellness, health, transportation and more.  The new Community Transportation Pilot Grant Program offers an innovative way to encourage community-based transportation solutions for seniors, youth, people with disabilities and others. Previous issues of this resource are available and searchable on the Caledon Institute website.

November 2014 Federal Policy Monitor

Monthly roundup of social-policy related announcements by the federal government
Of particular note this month is the federal government's Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections that details a series of tax benefits for families, and the Auditor General's Fall report. Previous editions of the Federal Monitor are searchable on the Caledon website.

Time for a Declaration on Decent Work and Basic Incomes for All

Community Development Halton shares this piece from the Social Planning Network of Ontario that explores where to go with the poverty eradication agenda under the new political reality. Time for a Declaration on Decent Work and Basic Incomes for All

Welcome to the Financial Mainstream?

The hazards facing low-income people when navigating the financial world
Welcome to the Finanical Mainstream? has two purposes. The first is to document some of the lessons learned from conducting a financial literacy course on behalf of Houselink Community Homes over the winter of 2013/14. The response to the course was overwhelmingly positive. Participants spoke eloquently about the impact of financial problems on mental health. Much of what they said confirmed observations that I have been making over many years about what motivates the financial behavior of marginalized people. We want to share these insights with others who work with consumer survivors and low-income people. The second purpose is to shine some light on issues we are often unaware of when we design financial literacy courses. Not all of these issues can be resolved by teaching yet more financial literacy. Some of them will require us to become advocates on a new front. That’s because consumer protection in the world of banks and financial products is woefully inadequate—especially if you are poor. As financial literacy educators in marginalized communities, we need to retool ourselves, so that we know how to champion people dealing with issues like debt, fraud, and “coercive tied selling” (more about that later). We also need to be talking to government and financial agencies about
the realities of accessing mainstream financial services, and what needs to change. The ‘meat’ of this report divides into four parts: 1. The outright barriers that marginalized people face when attempting to access mainstream financial services, such as banks 2. The invisible, lurking dangers of going mainstream, especially for people with debt histories 3. The useless, expensive frills they will hear far too much about when they go shopping for financial products 4. The valuable financial products and government benefits they will hear far too little about. In each of these sections, I describe the issues we’ve encountered and the information we gave participants that they found really useful. I talk about what is teachable. But I also put forward some recommendations for protecting consumers from what is realistically beyond the scope of financial education for most Canadians—especially vulnerable Canadians.