canada

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The 2004 federal-provincial health accord recently completed its 10-year run, and expired on schedule. Though heralded at the time of its signing as a landmark agreement that would solve many of the wait times issues plaguing Canada's healthcare system, in retrospect it achieved very little and was very expensive to boot.


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"Some people will say this budget is boring," finance minister Jim Flaherty remarked after unveiling Tuesday's federal budget. A careful look, however, suggests the minister might be understating the future significance of his budget.

After running six consecutive deficits totaling $156.5 billion, Flaherty has been clear that balancing the budget in 2015-16 is his top priority. Budget 2014 reaffirms that commitment.


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With federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty poised to unveil his 2014 budget on February 11th, early signs point to a business-as-usual budget with his government staying focused on eliminating the deficit in 2015 and creating the fiscal room to provide tax relief in next year's budget conveniently right before the 2015 federal election campaign.


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The Clerk of the Privy Council's Blueprint 2020 exercise is a positive step in redefining the role and functions of the federal public service in Canada. It asks important questions about how the public service needs to evolve, what best practices it should adopt, and how the federal public service can come to represent a competitive advantage for the country. We laud the Clerk and the entire public service for this introspective initiative.

However, a key question omitted from the blueprint document is: what's the right size and scope of the federal government in 2020?


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A new year can bring new possibilities. It’s a chance to take stock of what we’ve accomplished in the past year and to set new goals for the future. It’s also, however, when Canadian governments typically enact new taxes. Unfortunately, governments across the country in recent years have been all too keen to bring in new taxes or increase existing ones, resulting in squeezed household budgets. The question for 2014 then, is will this trend continue or will governments recognize it’s time to give taxpayers a break?


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Yet another train derailment involving petroleum products has re-invigorated the debate over how we transport oil in Canada. In this case, 17 cars on a train near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, derailed; nine of which carried dangerous goods including crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas. According to recent reports, the cause of the derailment seems to involve a brake failure of some kind. As we have seen in other derailments, the derailed cars erupted in flames, causing, in this case, the evacuation of 150 people from nearby houses.


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Canada's taxpayers have been increasingly generous to Aboriginal Canadians over the decades but that reality is not often the narrative one hears from selected First Nations leaders. Instead, the oft-stated opinion is that taxpayers should ante up ever more.


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Waiting has become a defining characteristic of the Canadian health care experience. Patients stricken with illness, from mild to serious, must wait their turn for access to emergency care, family doctors, medical specialists, diagnostic scans, and treatment.

These delays, which can be quite substantial, impose needless costs on Canadians in terms of their economic, social, and mental well-being and can lead to less-desirable health care outcomes. Fortunately, this serious health care problem can be readily solved through policy reforms based on European successes.


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After federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled his latest financial plan Tuesday, much of the media hype centred on the government's larger than expected surplus in 2015-16. Early chatter seemed to accept the government will deliver as promised and some declared its "conservative assumptions" might allow for the deficit to be eliminated even earlier.


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“There’ll be no doubt that we’re balanced in 2015,” federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters after recently meeting with a group of private sector economists. This is among Mr. Flaherty’s most categorical statements to date on his plan to achieve a balanced budget in 2015-16. But in light of recent economic forecasts and potential threats to the government’s revenue projections, he would be well-advised to focus on further spending restraint – something he can fully control – in order to deliver on his promise.