Big Bank in Canada Wants Socialized Housing

ai image of a banker building a house

The housing crisis in Canada has been decades of policy failures in the making arguably starting in the 90s when the federal government stopped building housing for people. Now, the housing crisis has grown to the point where one of Canada’s largest banks is calling for socialized housing to be built again. This means building house for people who are so priced out of the market that renting is hard for them due to the downward pressures from wealthy home buyers.The bank also calls for other measures to be taken, as with most things, there isn’t one simple solution.

There is a case to critically consider next-best approach(es) to non-market housing across the country. There are many learnings to be leveraged from crowding private capital into affordable housing and there is still much more to be done in that ‘middle market’. This is essential but insufficient. The largely scathing OAG report on basic access to housing suggests we have neither adequate governance frameworks nor the tools at present to address the magnitude of the challenges at the acute end of the housing continuum.
Canada needs a more ambitious, urgent and well-resourced strategy to expand its social housing infrastructure. Aims to double the stock of social housing across the country could be a start. This would bring Canada just in line with OECD (and G7) averages, but well- below some European and Nordic markets. There is no particular magic behind this number: bringing the stock to 1.3 mn dwellings would not fully close gaps. But it signals far more ambition than the 150 k incremental units targeted under the National Housing Strategy with the bulk of its efforts focused on keeping the current count whole.

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Let the Coal Corpse Lay

Why don’t we just let it die already? Coal companies keep getting bailed out by governments around the world despite the climate crisis, this needs to stop. Over at Climate Town they have a great idea (above) that captures coal’s contentious use and how governments prop up the industry. The concept of clean coal was just a way to keep the carbon intensive industry running at the expense of all of us.
Already renewable sources are cheaper than coal and waaaaaaaaaaaay better for the planet and people’s health. It’s time to let the coal industry go the way of the knocker uppers.

Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies would save billions in revenue for the federal government. For climate advocates and budget hawks, eliminating these subsidies is a win-win. The Biden administration projected savings of $121 billion over a decade, which could be used to fund critical public health, education, infrastructure, and social initiatives instead of raising taxes.

Pricing fossil fuels efficiently would cause a dramatic decline in global emissions. The International Monetary Fund found that efficient oil, gas, and coal pricing by 2025 would lead to a 36% decline in global emissions. This puts us well on track to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Current global fossil fuel subsidies reached $5.9 trillion in 2020, or $11 million every minute.

Fossil fuel companies spend public money on private lobbying. Fossil energy companies earn a greater than 13,000% return on investment while slashing thousands of jobs. In 2020, the oil, gas, and coal industries spent more than $115 million lobbying Congress in defense of their $15 billion in giveaways. Eliminating subsidies to the industry is a step toward fighting corruption and preventing the abuse of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Fossil fuel subsidies are economically inefficient policies. They price carbon at far below its social cost to society, and on a global scale, they are economically regressive policies that benefit the wealthiest 20%. Externalities from supporting the fossil fuel industry cost the U.S. $649 billion every year.

Ending fossil fuel subsidies is politically popular. According to polling from Data for Progress, 54% of voters are in favor of rolling back all tax incentives for fossil fuel companies, compared to only 30% opposed.

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Hop Aboard the Free Transit Movement

streetcar

Our contemporary financial approach to moving people around a city subsidizes individual automobile use, which leads to more car use and worse mobility for everyone. An easy solution to this problem that’s gaining popularity is to change what mode of transportation get subsidies. The most direct way to stop subsidizing cars is to make public transit truly public by not directly charging for it (and instead charge selfish transport solutions).

We’ve previously looked at how free transit also improves the economy (unlike cars).

The fare-free movement turns that funding model on its head. Advocates believe public transit, like other essential services, should have never been a user-pay system in the first place. After all, we aren’t charged a fee to drive down a city street, walk down a city sidewalk or sit in a city park. Our property taxes pay for those basic amenities.

As Montreal urban planner and social economy expert Jason Price, co-editor of the 2018 book Free Public Transit wrote: “We don’t pay for elevators, do we? And rightly so. The very idea is preposterous. Yet the public transit system plays the same role in the city, only sideways.”

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Thanks to Mike!

Putting Eco Back in Economics

Traditional economists ignore reality to justify their thinking, and anyone who studies economics is well aware of this. From the myth of the “rational human” to trickle down economics, to the very idea markets are “natural” all ignore the actual state of the world and people. Due to the mainstream adoptions of these myths (and others), researchers interested in economics are pushing back and trying to revive the field to better reflect reality.

One such effort is found in ecological circles which are trying to get policymakers and thinkers to acknowledge that the planet itself is key to economic practices.

Ecological economics offers an opportunity to make the transition to an economic system that is designed to promote human and planetary health from the outset, rather than one where social and environmental externalities must be constantly corrected after the fact. Important ideas from ecological economics include the use of a multidimensional framework to evaluate economic and social performance, the prioritisation of wellbeing and environmental goals in decision making, policy design and evaluation that take complex relationships into account, and the role of provisioning systems (the physical and social systems that link resource use and social outcomes). We discuss possible interventions at the national scale that could promote public health and that align with the prioritisation of social and ecological objectives, including universal basic income or services and sovereign money creation. Overall, we lay the foundations for additional integration of ecological economics principles and pluralist economic thinking into public and planetary health scholarship and practice.

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Judo Falls for the Elderly

When old people fall the results are likely to be far worse than when younger people hit the floor. There’s a long history of technology assistance for elderly individuals who fall from the infamous “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” device to the modern smartwatch with fall detection. As always, the best solution is prevention.

In Quebec an organization has popped up to help teach people how to fall so they don’t injure themselves. Yes, that’s right to prevent falls and help people deal with them is to get them to fall in the first place.

One of the principal lessons is to encourage suppleness and to teach students to not be afraid of falling, says Jean-François Marceau, executive director of Judo Quebec.

As part of the courses, students are taught the basics of how to drop down to — and then get up from — the floor.

“When you go back to that basic thing then you become less afraid of the floor,” said Marceau. “Of course you don’t learn to fall in one lesson and then it’s acquired for life. You have to practise for several weeks … It keeps the reflex on your body and your mind.”

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Thanks to Lindsay!

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