A Few Thoughts on Week 26

Back to school

  • Ontario School COVID Infection tracking…
    • With high schools going back this week, lots of disruption are occurring including mass switches to online only learning.
  • I am doing a new thing….
    • The Mean, Median and Moose is a monthly podcast focusing data from across Canada with accompanying blog posts providing visualizations, links to tools and access to the data.
  • Earlier this week, the national poverty statistics received an update with “shockingly no coverage from local media”. Luckily I am here to explain what the re-basing of the Market Basket Measure (MBM) to 2018 from 2010 means.
I don't know what this means! - Little Girl - I don't know | Meme Generator
  • Well the MBM is one of three measures of poverty in Canada (each with their own strengths and weaknesses) and was designated as the official poverty line by the Federal Government in 2018. Whether this is the best measure is another debate.
    • The MBM calculated by tallying a basket of goods in a community. Those goods are the bare necessities to get by, food, rent, basic communication, transport, clothes etc. The annual costs of these core goods represents the poverty line in each community
    • When they re-base the MBM they tweak the basket and methodology for new market conditions and trends.
      • For example older version of the MBM included a landline phone, that has now been removed replaced with a cellular plan.
    • The challenge with the MBM is that each community is different. The price of good in Halifax are different than those in Toronto or Yellowknife which means that poverty rates and thresholds are different in each community. A potential impact of this is that the MBM the national/provincial rates are more arbitrary compared to other measures.
      • The full list 40+ updated MBM thresholds are here.
  • This great piece by Economist Dr. Lindsay Tedds offered a very nuanced view on Basic Income on her blog Dead for Tax Reasons. The following two paragraphs on the tax system really hits home for me:

We begin by acknowledging a simple truth: In Canada, the tax system is not just used to raise revenue; it is also an important instrument for achieving various social objectives. As a result, the tax system is now closely intertwined with the income support system: many key income support benefits are either delivered through the tax system, like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), or are dependent on information provided by the tax system, like the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Further, many are now calling for the creation of a basic income and for the tax system to be the core administrative structure for such a program. As a benefit administration tool, the tax system has advantages; however, it is also problematic for several reasons, not least because the onus to file tax is on the individual and filing is not, generally, legally required.

Applied in the context of benefit delivery, such an approach thus risks missing many eligible recipients. While on average, 12% of working age-adults do not file taxes, the incidence of non-filing is even higher among the most vulnerable. As laid out in this piece, 97% of the homeless population do not file their taxes, 33% of social assistance recipients do not file their taxes, 40% of eligible first nations families do not receive the Canada Child Benefit because they don’t file taxes. Therefore in the context of a basic income that needs a list of Canadians, needs an administrative structure including a delivery vehicle, and should there be an tax mechanism to recover the benefit, this issue with filing needs to be addressed. Can it? Yes, through deemed filing and auto assessment, as has been done in Estonia, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. This is a method of tax filing that transfers the onus of tax filing from the individual to the tax administrator, as well as to ensure that all citizens are auto-assessed for income support benefits.

Dr. Lindsay Tedds
  • In other words, the tax system itself isn’t designed to deliver a BI or UBI effectively. In order to implement it effectively the entire tax system would likely have to be redesigned. Given how well the government has managed to screw up a paperless payroll system for it’s employees, think of what could happen if it is for all of our CRA accounts.
    • There was also good comment on last week’s post around the Basic Income question. I agree with her that time isn’t accounted for in most calculations of basic income, I think the problem with that is that it is almost an incalculable factor for individuals experiencing it. On the flip side the savings of time created by a hypothetical BI would come at the price of job losses for people who are currently earning government wages.
    • I still fall back on Dr. Kevin Milligan’s impossible trinity as being a much larger barrier to BI.
  • The amazing piece by Irene Moore Davis in Drive Magazine is must read on DEI in Windsor-Essex
    • Following up on my post birthday thoughts on DEI and elected officials a couple of weeks back – Progress Toronto has released their free fall training schedule. The caliber of trainers and the free nature of the programs, I would argue is unheard of in a Windsor-Essex County. This is what it takes to get diverse/equity seeking populations engaged and elected. There has to be a foundation built in order to create a path to elected office!
    • Another example is the Hamilton Civic Leadership Program a 6 month program for 15-22 year old BIPOC youth that is free to access with the explicate goal of ensuring that the can engage in politics and advocacy.
  • The Province has implemented the Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Planning process with the regional survey out. This will help design the region transportation networks through 2051.
  • Sunday numbers, along with the weekend of the Province reporting 200+ cases per day is concerning. As high schools start going back this week we will see how things continue to develop.
  • If you read this from Ward 7 in Windsor you should watch the debate that was held last week here if you haven’t already. See all 10 Wards breakdown of socio-economic data from 2016 here.
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Sleepy Izzy is Cutest Izzy

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