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Health care wait times cost Canadians more than $1 billion in lost productivity

March 28, 2014 Comments off

Health care wait times cost Canadians more than $1 billion in lost productivity
Source: Fraser Institute

Canadians lost a combined $1.1 billion, or an average of $1,202 per patient, as a result of lengthy waits for medically necessary health care in 2013, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, calculates the average value of time lost during the work week for each of the estimated 928,120 patients waiting for surgery in Canada last year.

When calculations include hours outside the work week—evenings and weekends, excluding eight hours of sleep per night—the estimated cost of waiting jumps from $1.1 billion to $3.4 billion, or an average of $3,681 per patient.

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The Entertainment Industries, Government Policies, and Canada’s National Identity

March 21, 2014 Comments off

The Entertainment Industries, Government Policies, and Canada’s National Identity
Source: Fraser Institute

One of the longest standing shibboleths of Canadian public policy is that popular culture industries in Canada must be financially supported and protected by government if those industries are to survive. Moreover, the survival, if not the growth, of those industries—the “entertainment” industries—is essential to maintaining what supporters identify as Canada’s “national identity”. From this point of view, government support and protection of Canada’s entertainment industries can be seen as contributing to the survival of Canada as a sovereign nation or, at least, to the promotion of a more civil and cohesive Canadian society. A related argument for government intervention is that it is “justified” by the economic contributions that the entertainment industries make to Canada.

The broad objective of this study is to assess the main arguments for direct and indirect government support for the entertainment industries in Canada. While the focus of the analysis is on Canada, the main theoretical arguments could apply to most small, open economies. The assessment includes identifying and evaluating the relevant arguments for and against government support, as well as an evaluation of the admittedly limited evidence bearing upon those arguments.

Trade barriers and disputes with the United States continue to damage Canadian interests

February 5, 2014 Comments off

Trade barriers and disputes with the United States continue to damage Canadian interests
Source: Fraser Institute

Less than a week before President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address, the state of Canada-U.S. relations remains marked by trade barriers that hurt Canadian producers and consumers, and high-profile disputes, notes a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Since 2007, in both merchandise and services trade, Canada has seen a relative decline in competitiveness with the United States, which may surprise many Canadians who believe Canada has been doing better than the U.S. over the past few years,” said Alexander Moens, senior fellow in American policy at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Canada’s Catch-22: The State of Canada-U.S. Relations in 2014.

For example, Canadian merchandise exports to the U.S. decreased by 27 per cent in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, and by 2012 had not fully recovered, totalling $278 billion.

CA — Living wage laws can hurt the most vulnerable workers

February 3, 2014 Comments off

Living wage laws can hurt the most vulnerable workers
Source: Fraser Institute

As more Canadian municipalities consider adopting so-called living wage laws, a new report published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank, concludes these laws can actually hurt low-paid workers.

The report, The Economic Effects of Living Wage Laws, reviews scholarly research on living wage laws in the United States, where more than 140 municipalities have the legislation, and spotlights the effects on employment, wages and poverty.

CA — Technology and Education: A Primer

September 4, 2013 Comments off

Technology and Education: A Primer
Source: Fraser Institute

For all intents and purposes, we educate our children in much the same way as we did a century ago. Despite our stubborn attachment to an instructional model from a bygone era, technology is set to revolutionize the learning process. Examples include interactive lessons that adapt to a specific student’s learning style to lectures taught by a single professor to tens of thousands of students around the world who are enrolled in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Such innovations have the potential to radically alter the nature of learning.

Adaptive technology is defined as software that learns and alters itself based on the user’s inputs, while allowing for interaction with a broad base of learning styles. Adaptive technology software fills the role of the coach/tutor.

Should this technology be adopted in classrooms, it holds the potential for changing a teacher from a “one-size-fits-all” instructor to an individual learning coach. Using adaptive technology, students can learn material through an avenue of their choosing and at the pace that best suits them; when they encounter a difficulty, the teacher can step in and coach them past the problem individually or in a small group, while their classmates continue. In many cases the software is becoming advanced enough to recognize when the student is struggling, and is capable of pre-empting the need for intervention by the teacher.

Two key areas of adaptive learning require additional research in Canada. First, we need better quantitative, empirical research about the benefits of adaptive technology and its successful implementation and use. The second area pertains to policy barriers for the introduction of adaptive technology. Other questions, such as the cost of potential technologies, teacher training, and quality control, are also relevant.

Adaptive technology can have a big impact on homeschooling and education in remote communities where educational options are limited. The ability to bring into a single classroom those who suffer from substandard educational options or who currently learn outside of the traditional education system, is an obvious area for additional research.

CA — The Price of Public Health Care Insurance: 2013 Edition

September 4, 2013 Comments off

The Price of Public Health Care Insurance: 2013 Edition
Source: Fraser Institute

Canadians often misunderstand the true cost of our public health care system. This occurs partly because Canadians do not incur direct expenses for their use of health care, and partly because Canadians cannot readily determine the value of their contribution to public health care insurance.

In 2013, the estimated average payment for public health care insurance will range from $3,387 to $11,381 for six common Canadian family types, depending on the type of family.

For the average Canadian family, between 2003 and 2013 the cost of public health care insurance increased more than 1.5 times faster than the cost of shelter and clothing, more than twice as fast as food, and nearly 1.5 times faster than average income.

The 10 percent of Canadian families with the lowest incomes will pay an average of about $482 for public health care insurance in 2013. The 10 percent of Canadian families who earn an average income of $56,596 will pay an average of $5,364 for public health care insurance, while those families that are among the top 10 percent of income earners in Canada will pay about $35,309.

CA — The Cost of Raising Children

August 29, 2013 Comments off

The Cost of Raising Children
Source: Fraser Institute

The annual cost of raising a child is important information-for its own sake and also for public policy purposes. Such estimates can be helpful to parents or prospective parents. It can also inform policies related to child benefits and possible parental child support obligations. This paper reviews prevailing approaches to the measurement of child costs and proposes budget based alternatives. The paper argues that there is no methodology or formula that can determine how much parents need to spend to raise children or, even, how much they actually do spend. What we do know is that parents at all income levels have successfully raised children. The objective of this paper is to find, at least, a base level of annual child costs that would need to be covered for the healthy development of the child.

The cost of raising a child is defined as the cash outlay “marginal” costs that parents spend when they add a child to their household. These costs specifically exclude any costs that were already in place prior to the child and would still be in place if the child leaves the household. The cost of raising a child is usefully distinguished from the costs involved in the decision to “have” a child, which necessarily includes the full opportunity cost of such a decision.

There are two broad strands of estimates of child costs. One strand is that group of estimates produced for popular consumption. The other strand includes estimates produced by academic economists and statisticians. While there is some overlap between the two strands, the former tends to be less technical and less reliant on economic theory. However, at the core, both strands attempt to extract relevant information from actual household expenditure data. This paper critically reviews both strands and finds that both rely heavily on heroic assumptions about how to extract the child’s portion of actual family expenditures.

Prevailing estimates of the cost of a child for Canada and the United States, currently, tend to be in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 per annum. These cost estimates have a distinct middle class bias and do not reflect the reality of raising children in lower income and newer immigrant households. There is a concern that such estimates send a clear message to lower income families that they really cannot afford children and, perhaps, shouldn’t have any.

Examining the basic marginal costs necessary for the healthy development of a child, this paper finds that an annual outlay of $3,000 to $4,500 (depending on the community or region and the age of the child) would be sufficient. These cost estimates exclude any savings strategies such as home gardens, sewing and knitting clothing, couponing and taking advantage of sales, own repair and maintenance work in the home, etc. This cost range is for Canada in 2010 and is drawn from budget standard estimates by social agencies and experts with experience in this area. It can serve as a useful benchmark for child costs. Beyond this basic needs benchmark, however, parents will spend more on their child depending on such factors as after-tax income, perception of economic security, additional obligations, parenting style, marital situation, and time preference.

Corporate Welfare at Industry Canada since John Diefenbaker

August 19, 2013 Comments off

Corporate Welfare at Industry Canada since John Diefenbaker
Source: Fraser Institute

Between April 1, 1961 and March 31, 2012, and adjusted for inflation to 2012 dollars, Industry Canada disbursed $34.3 billion through to other governments, foundations, and businesses. $22.1 billion of that money was disbursed to business, $8.8 billion given in grants, and $13.3 billion provided in loans.

Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. received the most money over the decades: almost $3.3 billion via 75 disbursements. Bombardier and De Havilland were the second and third largest recipients, each receiving disbursements worth $1.1 billion over the years.

Most of Canada’s largest companies (ranked by the number of employees), do not take financial assistance from Industry Canada. The top three employers—Onex Corp. (246,000 employees), George Weston Ltd. (155,000 employees), and Loblaw Companies (135,000 employees)—received no Industry Canada handouts in the 51 years surveyed.

Peer-reviewed research does not support many claims advanced by federal politicians and other proponents of such subsidies: that corporate welfare is responsible for economic growth or job creation. In fact, the companies with the highest employee counts—most of which do not take subsidies—are real-world examples of companies that have not needed taxpayer assistance to create jobs.

Canada — The Wealth of First Nations: An Exploratory Study

July 17, 2013 Comments off

The Wealth of First Nations: An Exploratory Study
Source: Fraser Institute

The standard of living of First Nations is on average much lower than that of other Canadians, but some First Nations have achieved higher well-being than others.

This paper is an investigation into the factors that promote prosperity for First Nations. We use the Community Well-being Index (CWB), calculated by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, as a measure of prosperity for First Nations. As possible explanations of differences in well-being, we develop and test four indicators of respect for property rights and the rule of law: use of Certificates of Possession, adoption of property tax, entry into the First Nations Land Management Act, and avoidance of third-party management. In a multiple regression analysis, all four variables are positively correlated with higher CWB scores, even after controlling for cultural background and remoteness of location. Our findings are consistent with comparative and international research that has highlighted the importance of property rights and the rule of law for economic growth.

Risks to Canada’s Energy Security

July 8, 2013 Comments off

Risks to Canada’s Energy Security
Source: Fraser Institute

According to the first International Index of Energy Security Risk, Canada ranks well in the world, primarily because of its huge resource base and energy self-sufficiency. In fact, Canada’s energy security ranking is the 8th best among the world’s top 25 energy users, just below that of the United States, though Canada’s ranking dropped from 2009, when it ranked 7th in energy security. The main risk to Canada’s energy security, as seen in the Index, is the need for high levels of domestic energy consumption, comparatively low levels of energy efficiency, and a lack of access to diverse markets, particularly in the face of increased US production of oil and natural gas, and ongoing opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The development of Canada’s oil sands coupled with US unconventional oil and gas production is shifting the world’s energy center of gravity from the Middle East to North America. The impact of these trends is rippling through world markets. It has, for example, caused the Mexicans—who are seeing their oil output drop—to rethink the wisdom of their constitutional prohibition of foreign investment in the oil industry, and it is leading OPEC to worry that its sway over the world oil market is weakening. These and other trends potentially beneficial for Canada, however, are contingent on the ability to move energy to markets. The Keystone XL Pipeline is a critical piece of that.

Using Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Transportation Infrastructure in Canada

June 5, 2013 Comments off

Using Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Transportation Infrastructure in Canada

Source: Fraser Institute

There is general agreement among diverse groups and individuals that Canada’s transportation infrastructure desperately requires improvement. As governments move to confront this challenge, it is not enough that they simply commit to building more roads or bridges; the infrastructure must be built on time and on budget, be of high quality, and be well-maintained.

The conventional way for providing transportation infrastructure involves the government hiring a firm to build the facility based on a prescriptive design. The government then takes responsibility for operating and maintaining the facility and perhaps outsources some aspects of care to private companies. With a history of construction-cost overruns and time delays as well as other notable problems, the conventional process has not served Canadians well.

Public Private Partnerships (P3s or PPPs) are an alternative to the conventional process. P3s capture benefits of the marketplace while achieving the government’s goals for public infrastructure. This report examines the potential improvements P3s can bring to Canada’s transportation infrastructure. At the outset, it is important to note that, while P3s offer several advantages over the usual process, they may not be well suited for every transportation project. Put plainly, P3s are an important option in the government’s tool kit and should be given consideration when appropriate.

Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2012 Generosity Index

January 24, 2013 Comments off

Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2012 Generosity Index

Source: Fraser Institute

The Generosity Index measures private monetary generosity using two key indicators. The percentage of tax filers who donated to charity indicates the extent of generosity, while the percentage of aggregate personal income donated to charity indicates the depth of charitable giving. The jurisdictions included in the index are the 10 Canadian provinces and three territories, the 50 US states, and Washington, DC. The data used are from the 2010 tax year—the most recent year for which data are available for both Canada and the United States.

The data collected for the Generosity Index show stark differences in charitable giving among the Canadian provinces and territories, as well as between Canada and the United States. Manitoba had the highest percentage of tax filers who donated to charity (26.2%) among the provinces. Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan tied for second place (25.2%). The provinces with the lowest percentage of tax filers donating to charity are Newfoundland & Labrador (21.1%) and New Brunswick (21.3%).

In the United States, the extent of generosity is over three percentage points higher: 26.7% of US tax filers donate to charity compared to 23.3% of Canadians. The gap between these two countries widens when considering the depth of the generosity of each. In 2010, Americans gave 1.38% of their aggregate income to charity. This rate of giving is more than double that of Canadians, who gave 0.66% of aggregate income to charity in 2010.

Canada — Provincial Healthcare Index 2013

January 18, 2013 Comments off

Provincial Healthcare Index 2013

Source: Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute’s Provincial Healthcare Index 2013 uses publically available data for the year 2010 (or the most recent year available) to measure the provision of healthcare in comparison to healthcare expenditures across provinces in Canada. The value for money that provinces receive can be thought of as consisting of two, equally important parts: [1] provision of healthcare (the value) and [2] expenditure on healthcare (the cost). The provision of healthcare is captured using 46 indicators, aggregated into four broad components: [1] availability of resources; [2] use of resources; [3] access to resources; [4] clinical performance of medical goods and services in each province.

Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report

September 18, 2012 Comments off

Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report

Source: Fraser Institute

The index published in Economic Freedom of the World 2012 measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property. Forty-two variables are used to construct a summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas: (1) size of government; (2) legal system and property tights; (3) sound money; (4) freedom to trade internationally; and (5) regulation.

Measuring the Costs of the Canada-US Border

September 14, 2012 Comments off

Measuring the Costs of the Canada-US Border

Source: Fraser Institute

Key findings

+ After ten years of post-9/11 border innovations, the costs associated with border crossing have not significantly decreased while government spending on border security has markedly increased. In order to develop performance-based and cost-effective border management policies, an outline of costs associated with the border is required.

+ After adding up the lowest values from the estimated ranges for all three types of costs (trade, tourism/travel, and government programs), we find an annual cost of C$19.1 billion in 2010 or nearly 1.5% of Canada’s GDP.

+ Canadian and American governments should provide detailed descriptions of costs and expenditures for specific border programs and new security measures. Furthermore, these costs/expenditures must be linked to expected outcomes and timelines. "Costs and Results" based evaluations should be undertaken on a year-to-year basis, and subsequently made public.

+ In December 2011, the governments of Canada and the United States issued a joint declaration called Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. While the vision provides specific benchmarks and timelines for measuring progress, it does not tie these guidelines to government expenditures, or reductions in border crossing costs. Either we will continue with incremental and uncoordinated programs, creating some improvements but not lowering the overall cost of the border, or we will begin to create a new border regime.

Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States: 2012 Edition

September 13, 2012 Comments off

Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States: 2012 Edition

Source: Fraser Institute

This study measures the labour market performance of Canadian provinces and US states from 2007 to 2011 based on five equally weighted indicators: average total employment growth, average private-sector employment growth, average unemployment rates, average duration of unemployment, and average labour productivity.

Ensuring Canadian Access to Oil Markets in the Asia-Pacific Region

August 10, 2012 Comments off

Ensuring Canadian Access to Oil Markets in the Asia-Pacific Region
Source: Fraser Institute

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the outlook for Alberta crude oil and bitumen production and an assessment of the economic attractiveness and feasibility of exporting oil to countries in the Asia-Pacific region instead of solely to markets in the United States. It also describes the extent of the new oil pipeline infrastructure that would be needed to allow oil exports to Asia-Pacific region under two scenarios: 1. no increase in oil sands bitumen production capacity from a base-case forecast; and 2. bitumen production capacity increased from that in the base case to supply Asian markets after 2026. The likely gross employment and overall economic (GDP) benefits from construction and operation of the required facilities are also discussed.

The report also examines unnecessary regulatory and other barriers that are inhibiting the development of the pipelines and port facilities required to ship crude oil, raw bitumen and synthetic crude oil (i.e., upgraded bitumen) to the west coast and on to oil refineries in Japan, Korea, China, India and other countries in Asia that are increasingly becoming dependent on oil imports.

Global Petroleum Survey 2012

July 7, 2012 Comments off

Global Petroleum Survey 2012
Source: Fraser Institute

The 2012 Fraser Institute Global Petroleum Survey presents the results of the Fraser Institute’s 6th annual survey of petroleum industry executives and managers regarding barriers to investment in upstream oil and gas exploration and production in various jurisdictions around the globe. The survey responses have been tallied to rank provinces, states, and countries according to the extent of the investment barriers. Those barriers, as identified by the survey respondents, include high tax rates, costly regulatory schemes, uncertainty over environmental regulations and the interpretation and administration of regulations governing the petroleum industry, and security threats. A total of 623 respondents participated in the survey this year, providing sufficient data to evaluate 147 jurisdictions. By way of comparison, 135 jurisdictions were evaluated in the 2011 survey, 133 in 2010, and 143 in 2009. The jurisdictions were assigned scores for each of 18 factors that affect investment decisions. The scores are based on the proportion of negative responses a jurisdiction received. The greater the proportion of negative responses for a jurisdiction, the greater were its perceived investment barriers and, therefore, the lower its ranking.

Canada — Stealth Confiscation: How governments regulate, freeze, and devalue private property-without compensation

June 8, 2012 Comments off

Stealth Confiscation: How governments regulate, freeze, and devalue private property-without compensation
Source: Fraser Institute
From press release:

Canada is far behind Europe when it comes to compensating property owners for government restrictions on private property, concludes a new book published by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank.

“Unlike Europe, where governments of all stripes compensate private property owners when regulation acts as de facto expropriation, governments in Canada can wholly or partly freeze your property through regulation and not offer a dime in compensation,” said Mark Milke, Fraser Institute director of Alberta policy research and author of Stealth Confiscation: How Governments Regulate, Freeze, and Devalue Private Property—Without Compensation.

“That’s a major policy failure and a black eye on Canada’s reputation for fairness.”

In the book, Milke points out that Canada’s record of non-compensation for a loss of use from regulation sets it apart from other Western countries. A survey of 13 nations found Canada and Australia to be the most restrictive about compensating for regulatory takings. By contrast, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Israel, and the Netherlands provide the broadest compensation rights.

Access Delayed, Access Denied: Waiting for New Medicines in Canada: 2012

April 13, 2012 Comments off

Access Delayed, Access Denied: Waiting for New Medicines in Canada: 2012
Source: Fraser Institute

Key findings

  • On average, Canadians wait over two years for access to new drugs because of federal delays in approving them and provincial delays in authorizing reimbursement.
  • Health Canada took longer to approve new medicines than the European Medicines Agency in all five years studied—2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.
  • Health Canada took longer to approve new medicines than the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in six of the last seven years studied—2004 to 2010.
  • On average, only 23% of the new drugs that Health Canada certified as safe and effective between 2004 and 2010 have been declared eligible for reimbursement under provincial public drug programs as of January 1st, 2012.
  • Private-sector drug insurance plans have provided reimbursement for 84% of new drugs approved by Health Canada from 2004 to 2010 (as of January 1st, 2012), and have covered them more rapidly than public drug insurance.

+ Full Report (PDF)

See also: Canadian Federal Health Transfers to the Provinces 2012 edition

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