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Incentives, Identity, and the Growth of Canada's Indigenous Population

Statistics Canada has reported unprecedented growth in Canada’s Indigenous population (Indian, Métis, and Inuit). Over the 25 years from 1986 to 2011, it grew from 373,265 to 1,400,685, an increase of 275%, while the population of Canada increased by only 32% in the same period of time. Although Canada’s Indigenous peoples have higher birth rates than other Canadian groups, most of this increase resulted from “ethnic mobility”—individuals changing the identity labels they apply to themselves.

By far the greatest growth occurred in the categories of Métis and non-status Indian, which is purely a function of how respondents describe themselves in the census. But the numbers of Registered Indians (a distinct legal status) have also grown much faster than can be accounted for by natural increase. This paper deals with identity issues surrounding Registered Indian status and First Nations membership; a subsequent paper will deal with the Métis.

Ethnic mobility resulting in the growth in the numbers of Registered Indians has been fostered by adoption of equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982); court decisions such as Lovelace (1981), McIvor (2009), and Gehl (2017); statutes such as Bill C-31 (1985) and Bill C-3 (2011); and the recognition by order-in-council of landless bands such as the Qalipu Mi’kmak First Nation (2011). The Registered Indian population is now at least 40% larger because of these legal changes than it otherwise would have been.

An important factor in the growth of the status Indian population is the set of positive economic incentives conferred by Registration, including free supplementary health insurance for all Registered Indians and Inuit, and in some circumstances financial assistance for higher education, exemption from taxation on reserve, and special wildlife harvesting rights. Such benefits can be substantial and are particularly attractive now that the former legal disabilities connected to Indian status, such as not being able to vote, have been repealed. The medical insurance plan alone is worth about $1,200 per person per year. Though social disadvantages of Indian status may still exist, the legal and economic benefits are now substantial enough to create incentives to seek Registered status.

First Nations were established as distinct political communities; but political, judicial, and administrative trends are combining to confer Registered status upon many people who have some degree of Indian ancestry but are not really part of First Nation communities. Ethnic mobility resulting in growth of the Registered Indian population means upward pressure on federal and provincial budgets, because population counts affect Indigenous programming. But expense is not the only concern; these changes also raise a fundamental question: is it justifiable to offer special government benefits solely on the basis of ancestry?

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Impact of Proposed NDP-Green Tax Changes on BC Families

Main conclusions

  • An NDP-Green government in British Columbia would result in a marked shift in tax policy in the province. The new government would impose several significant tax increases including a rise in personal income taxes, carbon taxes, and business taxes. These increases would add a further $1.4 billion to the tax burden of British Columbians, assuming that the carbon tax increase was fully implemented.
  • Under the proposed NDP-Green tax changes, the average family’s tax bill would increase by $594, including a $482 increase in fuel and carbon taxes.
  • BC families across the income spectrum can expect to pay more in taxes. Specifically, the increase in total taxes ranges from $144 for an average family in the $20,000 to $50,000 income group to over $1,000 for an average family in the $150,000 to $250,000 income group. The NDP-Green proposed Climate Action Rebate will likely protect those in the lower income group from some or all of the tax increase though details of the rebate are unknown as of this writing.
  • Given the spending initiatives outlined in the NDP-Green Agreement and the billions of dollars of un-costed promises in the NDP election platform, an NDP-Green government would almost certainly institute tax increases beyond those listed above and/or run annual budget deficits (i.e., deferred taxation), neither of which are included in this analysis.
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  • In 2017, the average Canadian family will earn $108,674 in income and pay a total of $47,135 in taxes (43.4%).
  • If the average Canadian family had to pay its total tax bill of $47,135 up front, it would have worked until June 8 to pay the total tax bill imposed on them by all three levels of government (federal, provincial, and local).
  • This means that in 2017, the average Canadian family will celebrate Tax Freedom Day on June 9.
  • Tax Freedom Day in 2017 arrives one day later than in 2016, when it fell on June 8, because the average Canadian family’s total tax bill is expected to increase at a faster rate this year (2.4%) than the growth in income (2.2%).
  • Tax Freedom Day for each province varies according to the extent of the provincially levied tax burden. The earliest provincial Tax Freedom Day falls on May 21 in Alberta, while the latest falls on June 25 in Newfoundland & Labrador.
  • The Balanced Budget Tax Freedom Day for Canada arrives on June 18. Put differently, if governments had to increase taxes to balance their budgets instead of financing expenditures with deficits, Tax Freedom Day would arrive 9 days later.
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  • Alberta’s public finances are deteriorating rapidly, with the provincial government set to run a cumulative budget deficit of $27.6 billion over the three-year period from 2015/16 to 2017/18.
  • Until recently, by far the largest deficits of any province since the turn of the century were those run by Ontario in the years during and following the financial crisis of 2008/09. From 2009/10 to 2011/12, Ontario ran a cumulative budget deficit of $3,864 per person (in 2015 dollars).
  • Alberta’s current string of budget deficits are substantially larger than Ontario’s during that period. Between 2015/16 and 2017/18, Alberta’s cumulative budget deficit will be $6,385 per person ($2015 dollars).
  • When we compare the budget deficits relative to the size of the provincial economies, Alberta’s current deficits are still larger than those run by Ontario during the years following the financial crisis.
  • Alberta entered 2015/16 with no net debt at all. However, due to the size of current budget deficits and the resulting rate of debt accumulation, Alberta’s debt levels are rapidly converging with Ontario’s. In 2014/15, Ontario’s net debt per person was $24,256 larger than Alberta’s. In 2018/19, that gap is expected to have shrunk to $14,597 (both in 2015 dollars). In other words, about 40 percent of the per-capita debt gap between Alberta and highly indebted Ontario will have been wiped out in just five years.
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 Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care 2017


  • One measure of the privately borne cost of wait times is the value of time that is lost while waiting for treatment.
  • Valuing only hours lost during the average work week, the estimated cost of waiting for care in Canada for patients who were in the queue in 2016 was more than $1.7 billion. This works out to an average of about $1,759 for each of the estimated 973,505 Canadians waiting for treatment in 2016.
  • This is a conservative estimate that places no intrinsic value on the time individuals spend waiting in a reduced capacity outside of the work week. Valuing all hours of the week, including evenings and weekends but excluding eight hours of sleep per night, would increase the estimated cost of waiting to $5.2 billion, or about $5,360 per person.
  • This estimate only counts costs that are borne by the individual waiting for treatment. The costs of care provided by family members (the time spent caring for the individual waiting for treatment) and their lost productivity due to difficulty or mental anguish are not valued in this estimate. Moreover, non-monetary medical costs, such as increased risk of mortality or adverse events that result directly from long delays for treatment, are not included in this estimate.
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Report Card on British Columbia’s Secondary Schools 2017

The Report Card on British Columbia’s Secondary Schools collects a variety of relevant, objective indicators of school performance into one easily accessible, public document so that all interested parties—parents, school administrators, teachers, students, and taxpayers—can analyze and compare the performance of individual schools. Parents use the Report Card’s indicator values, ratings, and rankings to compare schools when they choose an education provider for their children. Parents and school administrators use the results to identify areas of academic performance in which improvement can be made.

Where parents can choose among several schools for their children, the Report Card provides a valuable tool for making a decision. Because it makes comparisons easy, the Report Card alerts parents to those nearby schools that appear to have more effective academic programs. Parents can also determine whether schools of interest are improving over time. By first studying the Report Card, parents will be better prepared to ask relevant questions when they interview the principal and teachers at the schools under consideration.

Of course, the choice of a school should not be made solely on the basis of any one source of information. Families choosing a school for their students should seek to confirm the Report Card’s findings by visiting the school and interviewing teachers and school administrators. Parents who already have a child enrolled at the school can provide another point of view. Useful information may also be found on the web sites of the ministry of education, local school boards, and individual schools. In addition, a sound academic program should be complemented by effective programs in areas of school activity not measured by the Report Card. Nevertheless, the Report Card provides a detailed picture of each school that is not easily available elsewhere.

Certainly, the act of publicly rating and ranking schools attracts attention; attention can provide motivation. Schools that perform well or show consistent improvement are applauded. Poorly performing schools generate concern, as do those whose performance is deteriorating. This inevitable attention provides an incentive for all those connected with a school to focus on student results.

However, the Report Card offers more than motivation; it also offers opportunity. The Report Card includes a variety of indicators, each of which reports results for an aspect of school performance that might be improved. School administrators who are dedicated to improvement accept the Report Card as another source of opportunities for improvement.

To improve a school, one must believe that improvement is achievable. This Report Card provides evidence about what can be accomplished. It demonstrates clearly that, even when we take into account students’ characteristics, which some believe dictate the degree of academic success that students will have in school, some schools do better than others. This finding confirms the results of research carried out in other countries. Indeed, it will come as no great surprise to experienced parents and educators that the data consistently suggest that what goes on in the schools makes a difference to academic results and that some schools make more of a difference than others.

Comparative and historical data enable parents and school administrators to gauge their school’s effectiveness more accurately. By comparing a school’s latest results with those of earlier years, they can see if the school is improving. By comparing a school’s results with those of neighbouring schools and of schools with similar student characteristics, they can identify more successful schools and learn from them. Reference to overall provincial results places an individual school’s level of achievement in a broader context.

There is great benefit in identifying schools that are particularly effective. By studying the techniques used in schools where students are successful, less effective schools may find ways to improve. Comparisons are at the heart of improvement: making comparisons among schools is made simpler and more meaningful by the Report Card’s indicators, ratings, and rankings.

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Prime Ministers and Government Spending


  • This bulletin measures the level of per-person program spending undertaken annually by each prime minister, adjusting for inflation, since 1870.  1867 to 1869 were excluded due to a lack of inflation data.
  • Per-person spending spiked during World War I (under Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden) but essentially returned to pre-war levels once the war ended. The same is not true of World War II (William Lyon Mackenzie King). Per-person spending stabilized at a permanently higher level after the end of that war.
  • The highest single year of per-person spending ($8,375) between 1870 and 2017 was in the 2009 recession under Prime Minister Harper.
  • Prime Minister Arthur Meighen (1920 – 1921) recorded the largest average annual decline in per-person spending (-23.1%). That decline, however, is largely explained by the rapid drop in expenditures following World War I.
  • Among post-World War II prime ministers, Louis St. Laurent oversaw the largest annual average increase in per-person spending (7.0%), though this spending was partly influenced by the Korean War.
  • Our current prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has the third-highest average annual per-person spending increases (5.2%). This is almost a full percentage point higher than his father, Pierre E. Trudeau, who recorded average annual increases of 4.5%.
  • Prime Minister Joe Clark holds the record for the largest average annual post-World War II decline in per-person spending (4.8%), though his tenure was less than a year.
  • Both Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien recorded average annual per-person spending declines of 0.3%.
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Poor Implementation Undermines Carbon Tax Efficiency in Canada


  • Provinces across Canada have implemented some form of carbon pricing, either through carbon taxes or emission-trading schemes.
  • These taxes are touted as being the most “efficient” way to control greenhouse gas emissions, yet be economically benign.
  • But in the real world, Canada’s carbon taxes fall far short of the textbook ideal that would justify claims of efficiency. They fail on three key requirements.
  • First, to be efficient, carbon taxes must displace regulations, not be added to them. Second, the taxes must be fully rebated in reducing distortionary taxes such as income taxes, and third, the revenues from the tax should not be used to further distort energy markets with subsidies to substitute forms of energy.
  • Canada’s experience with carbon taxes shows that governments have little interest in ideal implementation. Instead, rather than simply addressing greenhouse gas emissions efficiently, they prefer to create revenue streams for pet projects and retain the ability to transfer wealth.
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New Homes and Red Tape in British Columbia 2017

As an increasing number of people move to Canada’s major cities, high housing prices persist in its most desirable markets. With growing concerns about housing affordability and prices, understanding how public policy affects the supply of new homes is critical. Following several major studies in the United States on this topic, the Fraser Institute’s survey of housing developers and homebuilders collects data about how residential land-use regulation affects the supply of new housing. The data collected reflect the experiences and opinions of industry professionals across Canada. New Homes and Red Tape in British Columbia: Residential Land-Use Regulation in the Lower Mainland belongs to a series tallying the data to represent industry professionals’ experiences and opinions of how residential development is regulated in cities across Canada. This report presents survey results for cities in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

Unlike previous editions, this report accounts for the relative scale of survey respondents’ home-building operations. Some have fewer than 20 units under development, while others have thousands, making it important to assign appropriate weight to their responses. In doing so, the averages presented in this edition of the New Homes and Red Tape series more closely reflect typical experiences across units, rather than across respondents.

Estimates of typical project-approval timelines in Lower Mainland cities range from approximately five months or less in the City of Langley and Pitt Meadows to over 18 months in the City of Vancouver and West Vancouver, where timelines are also rated the most uncertain. Reported compliance costs and fees add up to a low of $4,300 per home built in Pitt Meadows and a high of almost $78,000 per home in the City of Vancouver. The survey reports that zoning bylaws need to be changed to accommodate more than 60% of new residential development in 12 of 20 cities. Estimates of rezoning’s effect on approval timelines range from having no substantial effect in Richmond and Port Coquitlam to adding ten months in Surrey.

Council and community opposition to residential development is perceived as strongest in cities where the value of dwellings is highest, raising questions about the causes and consequences of local resistance to new housing. The strongest opposition is reported in Vancouver, with West Vancouver close behind. This opposition is typically not perceived as a significant deterrent to building in the City of Langley and Port Coquitlam.

The index of residential land-use regulation tallies the results of five key components of regulation’s impact—approval timelines, timeline uncertainty, regulatory costs and fees, rezoning prevalence, and impact from local council and community groups—in 19 cities that generated a sufficient number of responses to the survey. This index ranks the City of Langley as the least regulated in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and the City of Vancouver as the most.

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017

Conventional medicine’s ability to deal with and treat pain and disease continues to progress thanks to changes in medical practice and the introduction of new medical and pharmaceutical technologies. At the same time, the public’s knowledge about what health care can do has also grown considerably, in part because of continually expanding access to information and knowledge via the internet. These significant changes in the health care world led to the question of whether or not, and to what degree, Canadians’ use of, and public attitudes towards, complementary and alternative medicine (such as chiropractic, naturopathic, and herbal therapies) have changed over the past two decades.

To answer this question, the Fraser Institute commissioned Compas to conduct a Canadian national survey to determine the prevalence, costs, and patterns of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in 2016. This is the third in a series of surveys on the use of and public attitudes towards CAM published by the Fraser Institute. The first ever comprehensive study was undertaken in 1997, with a follow-up survey completed in 2006 (Ramsay et al, 1999; Esmail, 2007). This survey series is the only comprehensive study of the use and public attitudes towards CAM by Canadians.

Canadians’ self-reported health has seen little change over the last decade: Sixty percent or more of respondents reported their health to be very good or excellent in 1997, 2006, and 2016, while 12 percent of respondents in 2016 and 11 percent in 2006 and 1997 reported their health to be fair or poor. The most common health conditions reported in the 12 months prior to all three surveys were back or neck problems (34% in 2016, 28% in 2006, 30% in 1997), allergies (27% in 2016, 29% in 2006 and 1997), and arthritis or rheumatism (23% in 2016, 21% in 2006, 20% in 1997).

More than three-quarters of Canadians (79%) had used at least one complementary or alternative therapy sometime in their lives in 2016. This compares to 74% in 2006 and 73% in 1997. Among the provinces in 2016, British Columbians were most likely to have used an alternative therapy during their lifetime (89%), followed by Albertans (84%) and Ontarians (81%). Conversely, those in Quebec (69%) were least likely to have done so. Similar patterns were observed in the past two surveys, though respondents from the Atlantic provinces were more likely to have reported using at least one complementary and alternative medicine or therapy sometime in their lives in 2016 (77%) than in either 2006 (63%) or 1997 (69%).

In 2016, massage was the most common type of therapy that Canadians used over their lifetime with 44 percent having tried it, followed by chiropractic care (42%), yoga (27%), relaxation techniques (25%), and acupuncture (22%). Nationally, the most rapidly expanding therapies over the past two decades or so (rate of change between 1997 and 2016) were massage, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic care, osteopathy, and naturopathy. High dose/mega vitamins, herbal therapies, and folk remedies appear to be in declining use over that same time period.

More than half (56%) of Canadians used at least one CAM therapy in the year prior to the 2016 survey, compared to 54% in 2006 and 50% in 1997. In the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey, the most commonly used complementary and alternative medicines and therapies were massage (24%), relaxation techniques (19%), chiropractic care and yoga (16%), and prayer (15%).

The most likely users of complementary and alternative therapies over the past 12 months in 2016 were from the 35- to 44-year-old age group (61%). The use of complementary and alternative medicines and treatments diminished with age, and generally rose with both income and education. These trends are similar to those observed in 2006 and 1997, though there was no income trend found in 1997.

The majority of people choosing to use complementary and alternative therapies in the 12 months preceding the 2016 survey continued to do so for “wellness”—to prevent future illness from occurring or to maintain health and vitality. However, there has been a notable shift in the use of complementary and alternative therapies for wellness since the earlier iterations of the survey, with the overwhelming majority of therapies used less for wellness in 2016 than in either 2006 or 1997.

Canadians spent an estimated $8.8 billion on CAM in the latter half of 2015 and first half of 2016. This is an increase from the estimated $8.0 billion spent in 2005/06 and the estimated $6.3 billion spent in 1996/97 (in 2016 dollars, adjusted using Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index). Of the $8.8 billion spent in 2016, more than $6.5 billion was spent on providers of CAM, while another $2.3 billion was spent on herbs, vitamins, special diet programs, books, classes, and equipment. While these amounts are not insubstantial, the majority of Canadians believe that alternative therapies should be paid for privately and not by provincial health plans.

The survey results reveal regional variations in attitudes towards health care, which provides further support for devolution of health policy, both conventional and alternative, to provincial governments. For example, British Columbians, Albertans, and those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba were more likely to perceive value in CAM than residents of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Perceptions about the value of conventional medicine in treating health problems, support for various financing approaches for expansions in coverage, and support for private financing of CAM also varied across the provinces.

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