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Consumer Cash Usage: A Cross-Country Comparison with Payment Diary Survey Data

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Consumer Cash Usage: A Cross-Country Comparison with Payment Diary Survey Data
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

We measure consumers’ use of cash by harmonizing payment diary surveys from seven countries. The seven diary surveys were conducted in 2009 (Canada), 2010 (Australia), 2011 (Austria, France, Germany, and the Netherlands), and 2012 (the United States). Our paper finds cross-country differences — for example, the level of cash use differs across countries. Cash has not disappeared as a payment instrument, especially for low-value transactions. We also find that the use of cash is strongly correlated with transaction size, demographics, and point-of-sale characteristics such as merchant card acceptance and venue.

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CA — The burden of premature opioid-related mortality

August 19, 2014 Comments off

The burden of premature opioid-related mortality
Source: Addiction

Background and Aims
The burden of premature mortality due to opioid-related death has not been fully characterized. We calculated temporal trends in the proportion of deaths attributable to opioids and estimated years of potential life lost (YLL) due to opioid-related mortality in Ontario, Canada.

Design
Cross-sectional study.

Setting
Ontario, Canada.

Participants
Individuals who died of opioid-related causes between January 1991 and December 2010.

Measurements
We used the Registered Persons Database and data abstracted from the Office of the Chief Coroner to measure annual rates of opioid-related mortality. The proportion of all deaths related to opioids was determined by age group in each of 1992, 2001 and 2010. The YLL due to opioid-related mortality were estimated, applying the life expectancy estimates for the Ontario population.

Findings
We reviewed 5935 opioid-related deaths in Ontario between 1991 and 2010. The overall rate of opioid-related mortality increased by 242% between 1991 (12.2 per 1 000 000 Ontarians) and 2010 (41.6 per 1 000 000 Ontarians; P < 0.0001). Similarly, the annual YLL due to premature opioid-related death increased threefold, from 7006 years (1.3 years per 1000 population) in 1992 to 21 927 years (3.3 years per 1000 population) in 2010. The proportion of deaths attributable to opioids increased significantly over time within each age group (P < 0.05). By 2010, nearly one of every eight deaths (12.1%) among individuals aged 25–34 years was opioid-related.

Conclusions
Rates of opioid-related deaths are increasing rapidly in Ontario, Canada, and are concentrated among the young, leading to a substantial burden of disease.

Who pays the piper? Rules for lobbying governments in Australia, Canada, UK and USA

August 5, 2014 Comments off

Who pays the piper? Rules for lobbying governments in Australia, Canada, UK and USA
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This publication surveys lobbying codes of conduct and registers introduced by Australian federal and state governments and some overseas governments. Although lobbying is a legitimate practice and part of the democratic process, the 2014 hearings conducted by the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Commission Against Corruption have exposed weaknesses in lobbying rules. Initially Australian governments introduced very similar minimalist codes and registers. Two states, NSW and Queensland, have recently introduced stronger regimes but Australian codes are, in general, far weaker than the strong statutory regimes operating in Canada and the United States.

Overcoming Skills Shortages in Canada

August 4, 2014 Comments off

Overcoming Skills Shortages in Canada
Source: OECD

Skills shortages have developed in certain fields and regions in recent years. Earnings premiums for people in some professions, notably health, engineering and skilled trades have increased. And vacancy rates have risen for skilled trades, with the increase being particularly large in Alberta and Saskatchewan. While reforms have been implemented to strengthen adjustment so as to overcome these shortages, there is still room to go further by improving labour market information, increasing responsiveness of the education and training system to labour market demand, making the immigration system more reactive to current labour market conditions and reducing regulatory barriers to inter-provincial labour mobility. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Review of Canada (http://www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-canada.htm).

2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data

July 30, 2014 Comments off

2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The number of commercial truck crossings into the United States from Canada and Mexico was 10.8 million in 2013, 1.1 percent more than in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). That 2013 increase follows increases from 2010 to 2012 after four years of decline from 2005 to 2009, a period that includes the last recession. The truck-crossing numbers are included in the 2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data posted today on the BTS website. The database also includes numbers of incoming trains, buses, containers, personal vehicles, and pedestrians entering the United States through land ports and ferry crossings on the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico border. The database shows that there were 163.3 million person crossings into the U.S. from Mexico in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2013, a 4.6 percent increase from 2012. There were an additional 62.8 million person crossings into the U.S. from Canada in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2013, a 0.5 percent increase in person crossings from 2012.

Canada — Police-reported crime statistics, 2013

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Police-reported crime statistics, 2013
Source: Statistics Canada

The police-reported Crime Severity Index (CSI), which measures the volume and severity of crime, declined 9% in 2013 compared with 2012. This was the 10th consecutive decline in the index. The CSI was 36% lower than 10 years earlier.

The traditional crime rate also declined in 2013 compared with 2012, falling 8%. It continued its long-term downward trend that began in the early 1990s, reaching its lowest level since 1969. Since 1962, the traditional crime rate has measured the volume of crime, but does not take into account the severity of crimes.

Deconstructing Canada’s Housing Markets: Finance, Affordability and Urban Sprawl

July 28, 2014 Comments off

Deconstructing Canada’s Housing Markets: Finance, Affordability and Urban Sprawl
Source: OECD

House prices have increased significantly in Canada over the past decade, driving household debt and residential construction activity to historical highs. Although macro-prudential tightening has slowed the pace of household borrowing in the last few years, house prices have continued to trend higher, and affordability remains a major challenge in urban centres. First-time home buyers must therefore spend more of their incomes to purchase a house and are vulnerable to future interest rate hikes. Overbuilding in the condominium sectors of some cities appears to be a source of risk, especially if a major price correction in these segments spills over into other markets. The country benefits from a sound and effective housing finance system, which performed well throughout the global financial crisis thanks to strong regulatory oversight and explicit government backing of the mortgage market. Nonetheless, the dominance of the crown corporation CMHC in the mortgage insurance market concentrates a significant amount of risk in public finances. Improving competitive conditions in the mortgage insurance market could help diversify these risks and reduce taxpayer contingent liabilities, while introducing coverage limits on loan losses would better align private and social interests. There may be a shortage of rental housing in several cities, especially in the range that low-income households can afford. Urban planning policies have resulted in low-density residential development which contributes to relatively high transport-related carbon emissions. Addressing these externalities requires stronger pricing signals for land development, road use, congestion and parking, combined with better integration of public transit planning. To prevent the marginalisation of low-income households, planning policies should support social mix and increase incentives for private-sector development of affordable housing.

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