Economist “Jimbo” Stanford speaking Sunday morning at the Ontario Health Coalition conference.
Somebody suggested that the CBC would be a far more interesting place if the Lang-O’Leary Exchange morphed into the Lang-Jimbo Reality Show.
Now that’s a CBC we might be inclined to fight a little harder to protect.
There are not many economists who would take on the moniker of “Jimbo,” but Jim Stanford doesn’t shy away from it. Speaking at the Ontario Health Coalition weekend conference at the Toronto Sheraton Centre, the Unifor economist and founder of the Progressive Economics Forum was in high spirits.
“An economist is someone who is good with numbers but hasn’t the personality to be an accountant,” he told the crowd with a big wide grin. Don’t be fooled, “Jimbo” has personality to spare.
With a Master’s degree from Cambridge and a Phd from New York’s New School for Social Research, Stanford doesn’t come across as pedantic. Early Sunday morning he finds ways to convey complex economic principles clearly to a mixed community audience of under-caffeinated seniors, labour and young people interested in health care advocacy.
Stanford has been doing this for much of his career, including writing Economics for Everyone: A short guide to the economics of capitalism. That textbook has become a staple for those who wish to know more about how economics work in order to take on the issues of the day.
“Health care (costs) are going up because we are aging and we are willing to pay more,” he said this weekend. Stanford explained that it’s rational that Canadians would want to take advantage of new technologies that would extend their lives or improve the quality of life.
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Kudos to Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, for pointing out governments looking to contain costs and provide better service should address mental health issues within their own workforce. Writing in the Ottawa Citizen last week, Quenneville points out that every day 500,000 Canadians are absent from the workplace because of mental health problems. Someone suffering a mental illness will be absent from work on average twice as long as someone with any other disability. Mental health illness account for about 30 per cent of short and long-term disability claims. Clearly this is not just an issue with government, but with all employers. The CMHA CEO does acknowledge that many municipalities are already beginning to address the issue through wellness programs and education programs that particularly address stigma. Earlier this summer Partners for Mental Health launched their own workplace program “Not Myself Today.”
The Canadian Medical Association Journal reported over the summer on what could be a groundbreaking piece of research being conducted by Dr. Evelyn Forget at the University of Manitoba. From 1974 to 1978 Dauphin Manitoba took part in a unique “labour market experiment” in which locals were given a guaranteed annual income supplement to keep them out of poverty. The CMAJ says the experiment folded as a result of high interest rates and declining political interest in the concept. However for the last three years Dr. Forget has been wading through 2,000 boxes of data from the experiment. The data she is uncovering provides strong evidence that lifting people out of poverty has a remarkable effect on population health, especially with regards to mental health. Surprisingly, taking people out of poverty also reduced accidents and injuries. She also found that families kept their kids in school longer under the guaranteed income program. Given the revival of political interest in the social determinants of health, Dr. Forget’s ongoing research around a 35-year old experiment may pay some social dividends.
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Tagged Alex Hukowich, Austerity, Camille Quenneville, Canadian Mental Health Association, CMHA, corner stores beer and wine sales, Daughin Manitoba experiment, Dr. Evelyn Forget, Hamilton Health Sciences, HHS executive expenses, Long term care inspectors, Nick Fillmore
It didn’t get much coverage in the mainstream media, but last week the big banks told Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to take his foot off the brake when it comes to public sector spending.
The banks argue with a weakening economy, now is not the time for restraint. That could mean pushing back Ottawa’s target to wipe out a $26 billion federal budget deficit by $5 billion per year.
“You won’t have many economists — or the bond market, which is perhaps a more critical vote — end up criticizing Canada if a couple of years down the road, instead of having a balanced budget, we have a $2 or $3 billion deficit,” CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld told the Toronto Star last week.
It’s a rare meeting of minds – the same message is being delivered by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who argue economic growth is more important right now than the deficit.
Private sector economists are predicting economic growth in Canada will slow to 1.5 per cent for 2013.
If the economists left and right are telling Flaherty this, then Ontario’s Wynne government must be receiving the same message. This is important — if the provinces and the federal government are rowing in opposite directions, their initiatives would likely cancel each other out.
You can also bet that new Ontario finance Minister Charles Sousa – who emerged from the world of banking – is also listening to his former colleagues.
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Those working to preserve public services – including health care – may have found an unlikely ally in the IMF (International Monetary Fund).
After having pressed for severe cuts to public services in nations facing high public debt, the IMF is now cautioning that cutting too quickly may worsen the economic crisis.
This comes after weeks of dire predictions by Reform Commissioner Don Drummond, whose recommendations are due out today.
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