Op-Eds

My colleagues and I at the C.D. Howe Institute devote much of our daily attention to criticizing poorly conceived and ineptly implemented policy in Canada. As we should. That’s our job. And our governments keep us all too well supplied. On occasion, however, people outside Canada ask us about how Canada ranks as a place to live, work, invest, or locate a business. For me, those questions trigger a happy 180-degree turn. The professional nag steps back and the booster of Canada as one of the world’s most favoured nations takes over. As we welcome 2020 with some thoughts about things we in Canada do well, and should keep doing well, here are three ways we stand out. First on my list — first on so many people’s lists — is Canada’s...
The refugee crisis and its global dimension continues as a major challenge for the international community. In our hemisphere alone, the United Nations estimates a staggering 5.4 million forcibly displaced Venezuelans by the end of 2019. All of this serves as an urgent reminder that intergovernmental action is needed to address the crisis, not just in our own neighbourhood, but in other parts of the globe where refugees continue to flood across borders. While collective intergovernmental action is needed for long-term solutions, there are important ways for the business community to be engaged as an important companion to state action. Such private-sector initiatives would help to foster commercial activity and alleviate the...
Canada is becoming increasingly reliant on immigration for its labour-force growth, which in turn is a key component of economic prosperity. However, not all Canadians may be aware of this beneficial impact of immigration. Understanding it better may shed light on debates over the country’s immigration policy. Because of rapid population aging over the past decade, the labour force is shrinking as a percentage of the population, as the rate of participation of Canadians in the work force drops sharply past the age of 64. In order to mitigate the negative impacts of this demographic change on the economy and government finances, the federal government has been raising Canada’s annual immigration intake. While high immigration...
Immigration is not the panacea, as often advertised, to an aging population and low fertility rates. However, the right economic immigration inflow enhances employment outcomes and strengthens the overall economy. Principal applicants selected under the economic immigration program integrate well into the labour market. But their immediate families do not. Overall, this means that, across all categories, most new immigrants struggle in the labour market after their arrival. One way to encourage better outcomes is to substantially increase the target for economic immigration. Ottawa has increased annual immigration targets, gradually moving up from 280,000 in 2016 to 350,000 by 2021. Canada admits these immigrants...
We already know that Canada’s population aging will drag down government revenue and blow up social and health spending, but its long-term impact on fiscal sustainability and intergenerational fairness greatly depend on future government policies. While this demographic change substantially shifts the tax burden away from baby boomers and their children − the baby busters or Generation X – to the boomers’ grandchildren, achieving long-term fiscal sustainability can be possible. In my recent study for the C.D. Howe Institute, I estimate average lifetime tax burdens for the current generations by birth cohort, and for an unborn future generation. Lifetime tax burdens are simply the total amount of taxes minus cash benefits and...