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  1. Six Canadian cities out of 50 have the winning combination that attract migrants * Six Canadian cities out of 50 have the winning combination that attract migrants Calgary, Waterloo, Ottawa, Vancouver, St. John’s and Richmond Hill have what migrants are looking for when choosing where to locate, according to the Conference Board’s second report assessing the attractiveness of Canadian cities. Read the report here. “Cities that fail to attract new people will struggle to stay prosperous and vibrant,” said Mario Lefebvre, Director, Centre for Municipal Studies. “These six cities come out on top across all rankings, so they appear to have an overall winning combination that is attractive to migrants. Although it would be hard to imagine a more diverse group of cities, each has particular strengths that make them magnets to newcomers, both from within Canada and abroad.” City Magnets II: Benchmarking the Attractiveness of 50 Canadian Cities, analyzes and benchmarks the features that make Canadian cities attractive to skilled workers and mobile populations. The performance of these cities is compared on 41 indicators grouped across seven categories: Society, Health, Economy, Environment, Education, Innovation, and Housing. The challenge in determining overall attractiveness is that when individuals are choosing a new city, they value attributes of city living differently. Weights were computed for each of the seven categories. For migrants with a university degree, the Education category matters the most (21 per cent) in the decision to locate, followed by Society (20 per cent), Innovation (19 per cent) and Economy (13 per cent). Migrants without a university education consider, in an overwhelming fashion, that the Economy category matters the most (33 per cent) and followed by Society (20 per cent). “In deciding where to live, university-educated migrants prefer cities with higher Education and Society outcomes. Migrants without a university education place more value on a city’s economic strength,” said Lefebvre. “However, the study shows that a city that is attractive to a certain type of migrant ends up being attractive to all, so policy makers must be cautious in crafting policies aimed at attracting university graduates only.” Overall Grades The six “A” performers – Calgary, Waterloo, Ottawa, Vancouver, St. John’s and Richmond Hill, Ont. – range between big and small cities, from the West Coast to the East Coast, and include both urban and suburban centres. Specifically: * Calgary’s strong economic results come as no surprise given its performance over the past decade, but the city also ranked first in Innovation and second in Housing. * Waterloo’s worldwide reputation for high-tech excellence in education and business is well deserved. Ranked number-one in Education, Waterloo also posted strong results in Economy, Innovation and Housing. * Ottawa reaps the benefits of a strong and well-educated public sector. The nation’s capital excels in Innovation and Education, and, apart from Health, scores well across all categories. * Richmond Hill, a fast-growing city north of Toronto, has become the second most diverse city in Canada. A well-educated workforce contributes to its high scores in the Education and Innovation categories. * Vancouver enjoys an enviable climate and a vibrancy that comes from its young, diverse, and multicultural population. * St. John’s has achieved a strong productivity level that even surpasses that of Calgary and Edmonton. It is also a stellar performer in Health and Environment categories. The “B” class includes 14 cities – Edmonton, Victoria, Markham, Vaughan, Kingston, Oakville, and Guelph are consistently in the top half of this group. The City of Toronto also earns an overall “B” grade. Although held back by lacklustre results in the Health and Environment categories (too few physicians for such a large population, and too many days of poor air quality), the City of Toronto leads all cities in the Society category, particularly the proportion of foreign-born population and the proportion of population employed in cultural occupations. In all, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA) obtains five of the top 14 spots. The Toronto CMA attracted 35 per cent of Canada’s immigrants (about 85,000 per year) between 2001 and 2006, but this is partly offset by migrants – 25,000 annually – leaving for other Canadian cities. London, Halifax, Lévis, Regina, Québec City, and Burlington also receive “B” grades. A total of 21 cities get “C” grades, including three of Canada’s largest urban centres: Winnipeg, Montréal, and Hamilton. Although an overall “C”, Mississauga – with its high number of immigrants – gets a “B” in attractiveness among university-educated migrants. Four of Vancouver’s suburbs – Richmond, Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Surrey – earn “C” grades, as does nearby Abbotsford. Generally, Vancouver’s suburbs lag behind in Health and Economy. Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Kitchener, Barrie, Saskatoon, Moncton, Brampton, Kelowna, Thunder Bay, Peterborough, St. Catharines, and Sudbury also get “C” grades. The “D” class includes nine small or mid-sized cities – four in Ontario: Oshawa, Brantford, Windsor, and Cambridge; four in Quebec: Longueuil, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, and Laval, and Saint John, New Brunswick. Along with struggling economies in most cases, seven of these nine cities have shown little population growth, while the other two posted a decline in population (Saint John and Saguenay). These nine cities are also clustered near the bottom of the Innovation and Education categories. Performance By Category * Society – Canada’s largest cities post the best results, with Toronto and Montreal capturing the only two “A” grades. Toronto’s suburbs rank highly, as do Vancouver and Victoria. * Health – Small and mid-sized cities dominate this category, which mainly measures per capita access to care. Only Kingston and St. John’s get “A” grades. Vancouver and Quebec City are the only big cities to rank in the top 10. Suburban cities, which rely on services located in the urban cores, face the greatest challenges – 10 of the bottom 12 are neighbours of either Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. * Economy – Although the rankings are based on 2006 data and pre-date the recession, the Conference Board expects cities with strong economies back then to rebound and post the strongest showing following the downturn. Calgary, Edmonton and Vaughan earn the only “A” grades in the ranking; Edmonton’s strong economy makes it particularly attractive to non-university educated migrants. Five Toronto-area suburbs make the top 10. Ottawa and Waterloo also rank in the top 10. * Environment – Seven of the eight cities in British Columbia included in this report earn “A” grades and dominate the top 10 rankings, due largely to good air quality and a mild climate. Montreal ranks last and Longueuil is also near the bottom. Mississauga, Burlington, Vaughan and Oakville also earn “D” grades. * Education – The “university towns” of Waterloo and Kingston outclass their counterparts and earn the only two “A” grades. Small and mid-sized cities dominate the results for teachers per student population, with four small Ontario cities (Burlington, Waterloo, Peterborough and Guelph) grabbing all the “A” grades on this indicator. * Innovation – Calgary, Richmond Hill and Ottawa get “As” for Innovation. Cities with broad manufacturing or resource-based economies generally fare less well in this category. * Housing – Small and mid-sized cities generally do the best in this category, thanks in particular to relatively affordable housing. The Quebec City suburb of Lévis leads all cities, and five other Quebec cities rank in the top 10. The opposite is true for all eight B.C. cities, where homes are generally expensive. As a result, these cities fall in the bottom half of the rankings and five of them, including Victoria and the Lower Mainland cities, get “D” grades. http://www.muchmormagazine.com/2010/01/six-canadian-cities-out-of-50-have-the-winning-combination-that-attract-migrants/
  2. Canadian smog costs $1 billion, 2,700 lives: CMA Canwest News Service Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 The Canadian Medical Association estimates that by 2031, more than 4,900 Canadians, mostly seniors, will die prematurely each year from the effects of polluted air.Dean Bicknell/Canwest News ServiceThe Canadian Medical Association estimates that by 2031, more than 4,900 Canadians, mostly seniors, will die prematurely each year from the effects of polluted air. OTTAWA -- Smog this year will contribute to the premature deaths of 2,700 Canadians and put 11,000 in hospitals, costing the economy and health-care system $1 billion, Canada's doctors say. A report by the Canadian Medical Association calculates that deaths linked to air pollution will rise over the next two decades, claiming nearly twice as many lives each year and costing $1.3 billion annually in health care and lost productivity. The study estimates that by 2031, more than 4,900 Canadians, mostly seniors, will die prematurely each year from the effects of polluted air. Ontario and Quebec will bear the brunt, with smog-related deaths soaring among aging baby-boomers and the chronically ill. In Ontario, the number of premature deaths could double, to 2,200, from 1,200 per year, while hospital admissions over the same period could jump by as much as 70%. The annual health-care and economic costs could rise by as much as 30%, to $740 million, from $570 million. Quebec's mortality rate could rise by 70%, from 700 a year to 1,200, while hospital admissions could spike by 50% annually, costing the province 10% more, or up to $290 million a year. While smog can trigger lung problems, accounting for up to 40% of hospital visits, heart attack and stroke are the real problems, responsible for more than 60% of all air-pollution-related hospital admissions, the study found. Pollutants such as nitrous oxide damage the heart by harming blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis, a disease that makes people susceptible to heart attack and stroke. Besides the direct costs to the economy and the health system, the study tries to put a price on the poor quality of life and loss of life caused by smog-related deaths. With those estimated costs included, this year's total bill -- in addition to the $1 billion estimate for economic and health-care costs - would amount to more than $10 billion. That figure would rise to $18 billion a year by 2031, with nearly $16 billion of that the price the doctors' association puts on lost lives. But Gordon McBean, a renowned climatologist at the University of Western Ontario, questioned the accuracy of such estimates. While he praised the report and called most of its data sound, he said the attempt to put a price tag on lost life is problematic. "Health-care costs you can do a reasonably good job quantifying, but quality of life and the actual value of life is a bit difficult," said Mr. McBean, co-author of a recently published Health Canada report on the impact of climate change on human health. As a Canadian representative to the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mr. McBean said the world's top experts have tried unsuccessfully to come up with similar estimates for the human cost of climate change. "That became very controversial because the people who did it said, 'Well, a North American is worth so many thousand dollars and an African is worth a small fraction of that.' And people like me didn't think that was acceptable," he said. Given that climate change likely will lead to more smoggy days, the report does not exaggerate the level of anticipated deaths caused by air pollution, said Mr. McBean. "They're not overstating the problem. If anything, these are lowball estimates."
  3. Carte intéressante sur la répartition des types d'industries par arrondissement : Via Montreal Gazette : http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/maps-whos-putting-montrealers-to-work Maps show who's putting Montrealers to work ROBERTO ROCHA, MONTREAL GAZETTE Published on: October 23, 2014Last Updated: October 28, 2014 2:06 PM EDT If you want a job at a clothing store, you’ll have better chances finding work in St-Léonard. But if working at a private residence is your thing, Hampstead is a good place too look. Data released by Montreal’s statistics bureau breaks down the number of jobs in each industry, for every borough and demerged suburb. The data confirms obvious truths — that the main industry in Dorval is transportation, and that manufacturing is heavy in St-Laurent and the east end — but it also offer some surprises. The data details the number of jobs in each type of industry and workplace. These are jobs that exist inside a borough’s or city’s borders, not the jobs of residents who live in those places. There’s a large swath, stretching from Pierrefonds to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, where the dominant industry is health care and social services. And though it’s no surprise that places like Ville-Marie and Westmount would be heavy in professional services, but Sud-Ouest is less obvious. We can assume the condo boom in Griffintown, as well as the gentrification of Pointe St-Charles created demand for skilled workers. However, only 13 per cent of jobs in Sud-Ouest are in that field, which suggests the borough has a rich diversity of jobs. However, this maps only gives us a big-picture view of general industries. The data also breaks down the number of jobs by more granular workplaces. Here’s another map, this time by type of employer. We see that the boroughs where health and social services are strong are split between hospitals and schools as main employers. Banking, not surprisingly, is the main employer downtown, while the top job in the Plateau is in restaurants. Surprisingly, it’s the same in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. And did you ever imagine so many people in Montreal-East worked in furniture stores? Or that the federal government employs lots of Westmounters? A curious outlier is Hampstead, which has, as the dominant employer, private households. These refer to domestic labour, like cleaners, maids and cooks. “Being a city with one of the highest incomes in the region, it’s plausible to find so many jobs in that sub-category,” said Yan Beaumont, researcher at Montréal en statistiques. Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue also stands out, with colleges and CEGEPs being the main employer. The tiny, partly rural city is home to John Abbott College and Gérand Godin College. Here is the summary of the data for the three levels of the Montreal area. [TABLE=class: grid, width: 600] [TR] [TD][/TD] [TD]Montreal metropolitan region[/TD] [TD]Montreal agglomeration[/TD] [TD]City of Montreal[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Largest industry[/TD] [TD]Retail[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Second-largest industry[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [TD]Manufacturing[/TD] [TD]Professional, scientific, and technical services[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Largest employer[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Second largest employer[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE] Full data sheet at the end of the article
  4. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/15-wishes-for-montreal-in-2015 15 wishes for Montreal in 2015<article itemscope="" itemtype="http://schema.org/NewsArticle" id="post-430336" class="post-430336 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-local-news tag-education tag-homelessness tag-montreal tag-politics tag-social-issues l-article" style="margin: 0px; padding: 15px 0px 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1;"><header class="entry-header" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"> KATHERINE WILTON, MONTREAL GAZETTE More from Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette Published on: <time itemprop="datePublished" class="entry-date published pubdate" datetime="2015-01-03T16:23:47+00:00" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">January 3, 2015</time>Last Updated: <time itemprop="dateModified" class="updated" datetime="2015-01-03T16:23:49+00:00" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">January 3, 2015 4:23 PM EST</time> </header><figure class="align-none wp-caption post-img" id="post-439490media-439490" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="http://wpmedia.montrealgazette.com/2014/12/montreal-que-november-25-2014-the-skyline-in-montreal.jpg?w=1000" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text" itemprop="description" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> The skyline in Montreal at dusk Tuesday November 25, 2014. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>SHAREADJUSTCOMMENTPRINT As Montrealers rang in the New Year this time last year, a gloomy cloud hung over our city. In the midst of an unforgiving winter, our social peace was being threatened by a divisive debate over the Parti Québécois’s proposed charter of secular values, which would have restricted public employees from wearing or displaying conspicuous religious symbols. With a spring election on the horizon, the fear of another referendum hung like a dead weight from many of our shoulders. Poor job prospects and political uncertainty persuaded some of our fellow citizens to leave for greener pastures in Ontario and Western Canada. No matter where we turned, it was hard to escape the bad news. The Charbonneau Commission continued to uncover tales of corruption, our road network remained in abysmal shape and commuters fretted about the safety of the Champlain Bridge. But one year later, the mood seems lighter. “Montreal is back,” insisted Denis Coderre, the city’s populist mayor who has been trying to set a new tone. Coderre is already at work planning the city’s 375th birthday celebrations in 2017. He says the festivities and related development projects will have lasting benefits for residents, such as a pedestrian link from the mountain to the river. But many wonder whether Coderre has a vision and long-term plan for a city that is still facing employment and demographic challenges. So what’s in store for Montreal in 2015? The city will get several new hospitals when the McGill University Health Centre opens this spring, and the city’s skyline is filled with cranes — but surely more needs to done to enhance our quality of life. We asked 15 Montrealers who are well-connected to their city for their suggestions on how to make the city a more enjoyable place to live in 2015. Here are their ideas, in their own words. Raphaël Fischler, director of McGill University’s School of Urban Planning <figure id="attachment_439425" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Raphael Fischler is director of the School of Urban Planning at McGill University. Courtesy of McGill University. Picasa</figcaption></figure>The new year must see progress in ongoing efforts: reducing the high-school dropout rate, helping the homeless find permanent housing, repairing old infrastructure, greening the city. It must also see two goals reach the top of the political agenda: making public spaces, facilities and buildings universally accessible; and anticipating the transformation of older suburbs. Montreal is a difficult place for people with limited mobility, be they children in prams, adults in wheelchairs or elderly people using walkers. The winter is an ordeal for them, but even the summer is difficult because of inadequate infrastructure in streets and buildings and in the transit system. Universal accessibility must become a priority. As central neighbourhoods continue to gentrify, low-income households, including immigrants, are moving away from the centre, in particular to suburbs built in the 1950s to 1970s. The residents of such suburbs will need better access to public transit and services than is currently the case there. It is imperative that we start planning to meet the challenge of suburban poverty. Yves Laroche, owner Yves Laroche Galerie d’Art <figure id="attachment_439485" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Yves Laroche in his art gallery on St. Laurent Blvd. in Montreal. Vincenzo D'Alto / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>I wish that Montreal could get its good mood, its collective happiness, back. I hope the people who are negotiating the public-sector contracts for the city of Montreal and the unions all put a little water in their wine and come to some agreement. This city has been in such a grumpy frame of mind lately. You can see it in the faces of the policemen and the firemen and the city workers. Visitors to the city tell me that they feel it, too. It is weighing on all of us. But what I wish for most of all is for the young, emerging artists who make this city what it is be left alone to create their own personal imprints without being boxed in by teachers or dealers or art-buyers who tell them what will sell, what’s in vogue, what colours are best. I wish we would begin to see outsider art from the worlds of tattooing and graffiti and comics with fresh new eyes. Matthew Pearce, chief executive officer of the Old Brewery Mission <figure id="attachment_439429" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Matthew Pearce, CEO of the Old Brewery Mission. Marie-France Coallier / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>In 2015, I want Montrealers to join the Old Brewery Mission in imagining a city where every citizen has a place to call home and no large numbers of people are resorting to shelters and soup kitchens for their survival — month after month, year after year. Further, I want us all to resolve to own the social phenomenon of homelessness and each contribute in our own way to significantly reduce the amount of men and women who find themselves on the street. The city and the province have recently issued their respective action plans on homelessness and so, for 2015, I want to see … action. Specifically, solutions to homelessness exist when we act collectively to create diverse affordable housing options with the appropriate counselling supports, adapted health care services and preventive measures to ensure people remain housed. See the end of homelessness as we know it today. It will work. Coralie Deny is the director general of the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal <figure id="attachment_439431" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Coralie Deny, director general of the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal, behind a staircase that was built from wood recovered from Georgian Bay in Lake Huron. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>In 2015, there will be a lot of talk about planning and development in the Montreal region. We hope that it will be done with sustainable development in mind and that the changes will improve the quality of life. Some of the important issues will be the adoption of Montreal Island land-use development plan, urban plans for each city on the island, a parking policy, an updated transportation plan and the plan for repaving Ste-Catherine St. W. These plans will provide us with guidelines on how Montreal will be shaped. The plans must be precise and visionary and take into account principles that will be followed in all parts of the island. There must be improvements in public transport service and more bike paths. We need to promote Montreal as a walkable city, develop our streams and improve access to the river. We should also establish a network of connected green spaces, revitalize neighbourhoods and spruce up their commercial streets. If we work together, 2015 can be a pivotal year for Montreal. Heather O’Neill, author <figure id="attachment_439439" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Author Heather O’Neill lives in Montreal and writes about the city. She is photographed with her dog Muppet at home on April 25, 2014, at her desk where she spends most of her time writing. Marie-France Coallier / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>There’s an unhealthy fixation on young people in our society now. We try to micromanage every minute of their day and spend absurd resources on them. And I think they should be just left in peace to lie around in the libraries and daydream and doodle strange sea creatures in the margins of their notebooks and to engage in philosophical discussions with their pet mice. On the other hand, I think that we as a city should take better care of our elderly citizens. Transportation is really difficult for many of them. There are so many elderly who are abandoned and alone and neglected, prisoners in their own homes. There is no place for them in society and they are treated as though they are burdens. I just think they need to be valued and respected more. We’ve become a little callous in our attitudes toward the elderly. Everyone needs to accept that this is a part of life and one of our basic obligations. Better aid needs to be given to home care for seniors and those family members, often only one person, who have to shoulder all the responsibility of taking care of them. Eric Dupuis, chef-owner Dominion Square Tavern and Balsam Inn <figure id="attachment_439441" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Eric Dupuis, chef and co-owner of the Balsam Inn poses for a photograph at the newly opened restaurant in Montreal, Wednesday, December 17, 2014. Graham Hughes / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>We should exploit our European side more, with its lifestyle and traditions. That way we would make our city more vivante and exciting for residents and tourists. Let’s create more vibrant neighbourhoods by letting them develop their own personalities instead of passing so many laws and rules meant to over-protect our society. And as individuals we should stop being insular and share more time with our neighbours. Montreal should have terraces everywhere, even in winter. We should have more small markets where producers come to sell their goods. These are both ways of encouraging outdoor living in winter. We should let parents bring their kids into bars (not night clubs) when they go out for a drink with their friends. We should have l’apéro every evening of the week, not just on Thursdays. Bring back that old European spirit we had back in the day! Kim Arrey, nutritionist <figure id="attachment_439442" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Kim Arrey, a dietician/nutritionist prepares a yogurt and apple snack in her home in Montreal, Wednesday December 17, 2014. Vincenzo D'Alto / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>This will be the year that we show the world that Montreal really is different from other cities in North America and that we take very seriously the challenge of providing nutritious, healthy, delicious food to all our citizens at an affordable price. We will start with our hospitals and long-term-care institutions, ensuring that the meals served to patients will play a key role in establishing better health. Budgets will be adjusted so that food is considered medicine, and an integral part of the care plan of each patient. Rooftop gardens at the superhospitals will provide the kitchens with fresh, nutritious, tasty produce. Grocery stores on site will help our patients purchase affordable, nutritious food, as prescribed by our dietitians and doctors. Insurance companies will reimburse clients for the visits that they make to the dietitian, and the government will give us a tax credit for purchasing health-promoting food. The goal would be not just to prevent nutrition deficiencies but to promote good health through good nutrition. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, president and CEO of VIA Rail Canada <figure id="attachment_439453" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> President and CEO of Via Rail, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano in the Montreal offices, on Thursday, December 18, 2014. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>My wish for 2015 is to see more Montrealers travelling by train to Québec City, Ottawa or Toronto, and any points in between or beyond. Every time Montrealers choose the comfort and safety of the train, where they can put their time to good use — they are helping to reduce their environmental footprint, reinforce the importance of their national public transportation service and support the growth of Canada’s economy in the 21st century. Montrealers, like all Canadians whether they live in large metropolitan areas or in smaller communities in between, have in VIA Rail a reliable rail system that allows them to get wherever they need to be without the use of their cars. At VIA Rail, we believe that inter-modality is everyone’s business and, in cooperation with our public transportation partners, we offer an alternative that helps unclog our highways and makes getting in and out of our cities easier and more enjoyable. Robert Green, a history teacher at Westmount High School <figure id="attachment_439450" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Westmount High School history teacher Robert Green. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>In 2015, I would like to see an end to politicians attempting to accomplish their goals at the expense of vulnerable public-school students. Last year, it was teachers and students from various religious minorities being stigmatized by the Parti-Québécois government’s proposed charter of values; this year, it’s (Quebec Premier Philippe) Couillard attempting to balance the budget by asking vulnerable students to pay for all the tax cuts the previous Liberal government had doled out to the rich. Montreal’s public schools have a high numbers of students with special needs and students from low-income families. These are inevitably the students most affected when budgets for education and other social services are cut. When Mr. Couillard was running for election, he stated that he saw education as an investment in Quebec’s future. It would be nice if in 2015 he showed this was more than empty rhetoric by doing two things: 1) reversing the cuts to public education; 2) dealing fairly with the province’s teachers in upcoming contract negotiations. Craig Sauvé, Projet Montréal city councillor for Saint-Henri — Petite-Bourgogne — Pointe-Saint-Charles district <figure id="attachment_439457" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Craig Sauvé, Projet Montreal city councillor, at city hall. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>For 2015, I hope that improving the quality of life for citizens is truly a high priority for all levels of government. I hope that Quebec seriously re-thinks its transportation strategy: the government should reconsider its plans for the $600-million Highway 19 project and instead reinvest the money in important public transit projects such as the LRT (light-rail train) on the Champlain Bridge, a West Island mobility plan and the extension of the métro’s Blue Line. At the city level, I hope that Mayor (Denis) Coderre shows some leadership on transport. In 2014, the STM has had to cut bus departures because of budget cuts; they are now in catch-up mode. Our neighbourhoods need more bus and métro service, not less. We also need more investment in bike paths to promote healthy, active transport. Affordability and economic fairness are on the minds of all Montrealers, our governments need to implant measures that will make it easier for families to make ends meet: keep housing affordable, stop hiking STM fares and hydro rates, protect affordable, quality daycare and education. I also hope that all levels of government invest in greener neighbourhoods, green energy initiatives and protecting our valuable green spaces, such as Meadowbrook Park. I hope that 2015 is a year of peace, joy, understanding and working together. John Archer, wealth adviser for RBC Dominion Securities <figure id="attachment_439465" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Financial adviser John Archer in Montreal. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>From a financial adviser’s point of view, the state of an individual city does not really impact financial markets or investment portfolios (unless, of course, you own Montreal’s municipal bonds in your investment portfolio or within your mutual fund or pension plan). However, the city does affect the adviser’s quality of life and that of his or her family. From a quality of life point of view, I have three items on my Montreal wish list: Firstly, I would like to see a drastic improvement of our homelessness issue. Just once I would like to walk freely from Atwater Ave. to Peel St. without being accosted for money every block or so. Secondly, I would like to see an improvement in programs and employment opportunities to help our youth thrive economically in the city. If our children cannot see a future here, and they continue to abandon us, then that will be our greatest loss. Thirdly, I would like to see a coordination of road construction along with our traffic flow and control. There is nothing more frustrating than driving on one of our many streets under construction than waiting for an intolerably long light and seeing that there is absolutely no work nor reason for the closed lane to be blocked off with orange construction cones. Surely our traffic flow can be better managed under these situations. Maria Liliana Madriz, co-owner of Cachitos, a Venezuelan restaurant on Ste. Catherine St. <figure id="attachment_439471" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> María Liliana Madriz in Montreal on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>I wish for the sharks not to bite so much. When you start a small business with all your savings (and countless working hours), you expect a fair amount of permits, taxes, and expenses to bite at your hard-earned income. My wish concerns the hidden taxes that keep biting at you every day: like the 30 free parking spaces that were removed in my area, only to become viciously hounded metered spots, leading clients to pay $52 for the few extra minutes they take to say goodbye. Or the added 25 cents per litre we’re charged for gas in Quebec, affecting our shopping, commute and errands. Or the hikes in rent due to raised school and property taxes. Or the felony of having an English sign that, God forbid, is close in size to the French one, even though the most profitable season is summer, which brings English speaking tourists. To name a few. And then, at the end of the day, while drinking a scotch to forget all of the above, you realize that the scotch also cost you more than it ought to, and that there’s nothing you can do about it, except to drink it slowly and hope that the bites won’t bleed you out. Geoff Molson: Owner, president and CEO of the Club de hockey Canadien, Bell Centre and Evenko <figure id="attachment_439476" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson speaks at the funeral for former Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, Wednesday, Dec.10, 2014. Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS</figcaption></figure>I think this city thrives when the Montreal Canadiens go a long way in the playoffs. I hope we can bring that to the city. And I hope that businesses start to thrive in Montreal and this becomes a destination for businesses to invest in. I can feel it coming. There’s a new wave of optimism in the city. It’s refreshing because it wasn’t always that way in the past decade or so. Just look around the city and see all the (construction) cranes. That’s one reason to be optimistic. But also look at the world economy. Compared to what’s happened in the rest of the world, Montreal and Canada survived quite well in difficult times since 2008. From where I sit, I need to equip Marc (Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin) with a winning organization for the fans to enjoy. From a business perspective, to do my part, I just need to keep investing in our city and bringing new festivals, a winning hockey team and more business, like the condominiums around our (Bell Centre) building. I hope others do that, as well. Debbie Friedman, trauma director for the Montreal Children’s Hospital <figure id="attachment_439478" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Debbie Friedman is trauma director of the Montreal Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at the McGill school of medicine. </figcaption></figure>I consider it a true privilege to work in the field of health care. Collaborating with many committed individuals who have dedicated their lives to helping others is rewarding and meaningful. Diminished budgets, cuts in salaries, corruption scandals and new laws often detract from what health care should be about namely: the patients and their families. Working in the field of trauma you are reminded all too often about how precious life is and how essential it is to be able to offer timely, expert care. This year, a new chapter begins in the history of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and the McGill University Health Centre at the Glen site. As trauma director, I am committed to seeing our Pediatric and Adolescent Trauma Centre flourish in its new home. I am confident that despite the challenges we face in health care today, the people I work alongside will be focused on what we do best: providing the highest level of specialized care to our patients and their families. As well as training a new generation of health care professionals, conducting research, and working closely with the public, the media and governing bodies to develop and implement effective injury prevention strategies. As for Montreal, I would hope that a city that has so much potential would get back to the business of thriving and embrace its unique heritage, thereby encouraging our youth to build their lives here in Montreal. Life is precious and those of us working in the area of trauma see the tragic reality of injuries all too often. Danny Maciocia, head coach of the Université de Montréal Carabins football team <figure id="attachment_439494" class="wp-caption post-img aligncenter" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Helvetica, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; vertical-align: baseline; text-align: center; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 2em; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-stretch: normal; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Universite de Montréal head football coach Danny Maciocia. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette</figcaption></figure>People giving back … as far as professional athletes or even university football players (and others from) athletics. Just trying to give back to the community … getting involved, trying to make an impact, trying to make a difference, trying to influence people’s lives on a positive note. Because at the end of the day, I’m sure they look at several of these individuals as role models. So, just give back, make an impact and, like I said, try to make a difference and bring some core values in their message in 2015. </article>
  5. Less Charter, more economy. MONTREAL — There was an initial sense among many observers that the Liberal election victory would be good for the economy, at least in the short run. It’s true that some measure of political stability will return to the province as the PQ’s divisive Charter of Quebec Values is thrown in the wastebasket and as the immediate risk of a referendum on sovereignty is removed. But the sobering truth is that Quebec could face years of mediocre economic growth unless it undertakes some major structural reforms. That warning came this week from Glen Hodgson, senior economist at the Conference Board of Canada, who said Quebec is heading for a prolonged period of economic underperformance unless decisive steps are taken by government and the private sector. “Quebecers could face the disagreeable prospect of deteriorating public services combined with a rise in income taxes” unless the province’s competitive position improves, he wrote in an opinion piece in La Presse. Interviewed Tuesday, Hodgson noted that over the past couple of years, during a period of economic recovery, Quebec has been unable to do better than a growth rate of around one per cent. That raises the question: What’s in store once the North American economic cycle shifts back to recession? The current underperformance has weakened the government’s fiscal position and made it less able to withstand the next economic downturn. Combined with a slowdown in private investment and little growth in the job market, this is playing havoc with government revenues. There are reports that the $2.5 billion deficit projected for 2013-14 may run as high as $3.3 billion once the Liberals get a full picture of public finances. Meanwhile, Quebec’s public debt is the highest in Canada, equalling about 50 per cent of its economic production. The Conference Board estimates growth of two per cent this year as the recovery in the United States picks up steam and extends into next year. “But the recovery will not last,” said Hodgson, “because the foundation for growth in Quebec is not solid.” The province’s long-term growth potential is around 1.5 per cent, he says, which will put it behind the eight ball. “You can’t grow at 1.5 per cent and be able to pay for health care when it’s growing at five per cent.” One doesn’t have to look far to find the reasons for Quebec’s troubles. “It’s really driven by demographics, private investment and productivity,” Hodgson said. Demographic forces are hitting Quebec harder than Ontario, which is also struggling with a weak economy. As active participation in the Quebec labour force declines, paying for expensive government programs like health care and education will get more difficult. The Conference Board projects growth in the labour force of just 0.5 per cent after 2015 as baby-boomer retirements kick in. Compensating for that reduction will require integrating more immigrants into the economy, providing more job training and boosting productivity. Former Liberal finance minister Raymond Bachand says he’s optimistic that some of those hurdles can be overcome. Bachand has agreed to head a new economic think tank called the Institut du Québec, which will be a joint venture between the Conference Board and the HEC business school in Montreal. The goal, he says, is to stimulate public debate with evidence-based research on the economy and public finances. Too many think tanks these days have a political bias, he believes. “We’re going to come up with a fiscal outlook in the next few weeks as our first piece of research,” Bachand said. “We know that we have a demographic challenge. We need the labour market to be healthy. “We have to get private investment back and we have to get our health costs under control. That’s the real goal of the Institut: to contribute to the debate from a fact-based point of view.” Between the Conference Board and HEC, the joint venture will have 400 researchers at its disposal to try to contribute to the debate. That should help the new finance minister and other government players get a better sense of the policy options available.
  6. Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/01/29/qc-charest-protests-india-asbestos.html#ixzz0e4r4XXPU
  7. RE : U.S. Health care debate After spending some time watching some news clips, reading some articles, and listening to people debate health care... there's one thing i just don't understand. If there are any socially conservative people here, (I know MTLskyline is fiscally conservative but not sure about social issues) I'd love to hear and try to understand your rationalization. I sincerely mean that. I'm not here to provoke debate, i just want to understand an opposing view point. I don't understand how sidewalks, electricity and roads are deemed acceptable publicly funded services, yet human health care is not. If life is so sacred, and the sanctity of life is so important that a woman cannot have the right to choose, then why is it wrong to acknowledge life as a basic right and grant health care to everyone? People that can't afford health insurance are permitted to suffer and die, by no fault of their own... their lives are meaningless. Yet a newly fertilized egg is sacred? To me, this seems outrageously hypocritical and appallingly unethical.
  8. Kids will walk without Quebec turnabout KONRAD YAKABUSKI Globe and Mail March 20, 2008 at 6:00 AM EDT Jacques Ménard has got a batting average that has earned him a reputation as the Alex Rodriguez of Quebec investment banking. As Bank of Montreal's Quebec president and chief rainmaker at BMO Nesbitt Burns, Mr. Ménard has been handed some of the toughest M&A mandates Canadian business has ever seen. Yet, like Yankees sensation A-Rod, Mr. Ménard has knocked more than his fair share out of the park. TSX Group's recent $1.3-billion deal to buy an initially hostile Montreal Exchange probably wouldn't have happened – or at least not as quickly – without him. Power Financial's $4-billion (U.S.) purchase, through its Great-West Lifeco unit, of Putnam Investments bore his fingerprints, too. If baseball metaphors come to mind, it's probably because Mr. Ménard saved the sputtering Montreal Expos – twice. In 1991, he put together a group of Quebec Inc. bigwigs to buy the team from Charles Bronfman. And as Expos chairman in 1999, Mr. Ménard negotiated the financially strapped team's sale to Jeffrey Loria, once again preserving major league baseball in Montreal. Even the best strike out now and then, though. Mr. Ménard, now 62, couldn't stop the Expos from ultimately leaving in 2004. And BMO's Quebec team couldn't work miracles for Alcoa in its doomed attempt to buy Alcan last year. Mr. Ménard can accept the occasional walk. It's getting pulled from the batting line-up that really gets his goat. That is essentially what happened when Quebec Premier Jean Charest summarily shelved the 2005 report on the province's cash-sucking health care system that was tabled by a task force led by Mr. Ménard. The latter watched with similar frustration last month as Mr. Charest did the same thing with the recommendations – including higher consumption taxes and user fees – of yet another government-commissioned task force to plug the province's health care black hole. Health care expenses account for 44 per cent of Quebec's program spending. They're headed toward almost 70 per cent by But with the highest debt per capita, highest taxes, shortest workweek, most generous social safety net, lowest productivity growth and most rapidly aging population in Canada, Quebec is already struggling to stay afloat. What kind of future does that suggest for the young Quebeckers who will be left to pick up the tab for the hip replacements and Cialis their baby boomer grandparents seem to consider a God-given right? Hence, Mr. Ménard's cri du coeur in the form of a book, out this week, titled Si on s'y mettait (rough translation: If We Got Busy With It). Part reality check, part road map to growth, Mr. Ménard's essay is aimed primarily at the generation between 18 and 35. They vote far less than their elders, seemingly resigned to watching the politicians of their parents' generation mortgage their future. Few Quebec business leaders these days are willing to go public with their disillusionment with Mr. Charest's failure to tackle such problems. Not Mr. Ménard. “It's astounding the extent to which Quebec's poverty jumps out at you when you come back from a trip abroad,” Mr. Ménard writes, comparing Quebec to a “developing country whose roads have been literally abandoned for generations.” Mr. Ménard dismisses the so-called “Quebec model” of extensive social programs as “a Cadillac with a Lada motor.” The debate over the sustainability of Quebec's public services, given the province's relative demographic and economic decline, has been turning in circles for years. In that respect, the most useful contribution of Mr. Ménard's book probably comes from polling data on young Quebeckers and Canadians the author commissioned himself. It's long been thought that the language barrier and Quebeckers' attachment to their distinct culture is a natural barrier against their mobility. Indeed, governments seem to take for granted that francophone Quebeckers will never leave home. Mr. Ménard's research tells a very different story. Not only are young Quebeckers more outward-looking than their English-Canadian peers, they're more willing to move for a better job. More than half (51 per cent) of Quebeckers between 18 and 35 say they like the idea of working in a foreign country, compared with 43 per cent in the rest of Canada. Forty-five per cent of young Quebeckers say they would “without hesitation” leave Quebec to work elsewhere if a more interesting or better-paying job came up. So, if the best and brightest leave, who's going pay for the boomers' new hips? A wealthy investment banker like Mr. Ménard doesn't have to personally worry about that – leading his critics in Quebec's still-powerful union movement to charge that his policy prescriptions are just part of the same old right-wing agenda to privatize public services. Mr. Ménard denies that. He admits, though, to having his own selfish reasons for writing the book: “I'd like to watch my grandkids grow up without having to go through airports … Mea culpa. I've a got a conflict of interest.” http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080319.wyakabuski0320/BNStory/Business/home
  9. Rebooting Britain: Tax people back into the cities By PD Smith30 November 09 For the first time in history, more than half the world's population live in cities: by 2030, three out of five people will be city dwellers. But the British are bucking this trend. The 2001 census revealed an "exodus from the cities". Since 1981, Greater London and the six former metropolitan counties of Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands and West Yorkshire have lost some 2.25 million people in net migration exchanges with the rest of the UK; in recent years this trend has accelerated. This is not sustainable. British people need to be cured of the insidious fantasy of leaving the city and owning a house in the country: their romantic dream will become a nightmare for people elsewhere on the planet. The fact is that rural households have higher carbon dioxide emissions per person than those in the city, thanks to their generally larger, detached or semi-detached houses, multiple cars and long commutes (cars are responsible for 12 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe - 50 per cent in some parts of the US). The regions with the biggest carbon footprints in the UK are not the metropolises of Glasgow or London, but the largely rural northeast of England, as well as Yorkshire and the Humber. In fact, the per capita emissions of the Big Smoke - London - are the lowest of any part of the UK. To create a low-carbon economy we need to become a nation of city dwellers. We tax cigarettes to reflect the harm they do to our health: we need to tax lifestyles that are damaging the health of the planet - and that means targeting people who choose to live in the countryside. We need a Rural Living Tax. Agricultural workers and others whose jobs require them to live outside cities would be exempt. The revenue raised could be used to build new, well-planned cities and to radically upgrade the infrastructure of existing cities. We have an opportunity to create an urban renaissance, to make cities attractive places to live again - not just for young adults, but for families and retired people, the groups most likely to leave the city. Turning our old cities into "smart cities" won't be easy or cheap, but in a recession this investment in infrastructure will boost the economy. We need to learn to love our cities again, because they will help us to save the planet. P. D. Smith is an honorary research associate in the Science and Technology Studies Department at University College London and author of Doomsday Men: The Real Dr Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon (2008). He is writing a cultural history of cities. http://www.peterdsmith.com *********** If such a tax ever existed in the Montreal area, people would be so mad. You might even see a repeat of the merger demonstrations.
  10. Montreal's vital signs improving PETER HADEKEL, The Gazette Published: 7 hours ago When consulting economist Marcel Cote put together a statistical picture of the Montreal area, he found several signs of improvement. The region's unemployment rate, long among the worst in urban Canada, is now closer to the national average than it's been in two decades. The workforce is getting smarter. Over the last 10 years, the proportion of Montrealers who've completed post-secondary studies has shot up from 43 per cent to 55 per cent and is now above the Canadian average. Innovation is thriving. Between 1990 and 2005, the share of scientific and technical jobs in the labour force has grown at a faster rate than in Toronto and Vancouver. Cote collected the data for the Foundation of Greater Montreal, which yesterday published its annual checkup on the metropolitan area, titled Vital Signs. The report is intended to raise awareness on the challenges and opportunities facing the community. It also serves as a good gauge of the quality of life in Montreal. But for all of Montreal's improvements, there are plenty of problems to address. Nearly a quarter of families earn low incomes and a disproportionate number of seniors live in poverty. Chronic homelessness remains an issue, especially among First Nations and Inuit. And Montreal still hasn't figured out how to integrate immigrants into its economic fabric. Relative to Canadian-born workers, the jobless rate among immigrants is far higher than it is for Canada as a whole. Asked to sum up his findings, Cote noted that in areas where change happens quickly, Montreal has done quite well. For example, changes in public policy like government mandated pay equity have helped put money into consumers' pockets and improved Quebec's economic performance. But on longer term issues like poverty and personal health, progress is much slower. On the island of Montreal, 25 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men did not have a family physician. In secondary schools, only 39 per cent of students exercised enough to be in good physical condition. It's worth remembering that economic health is closely linked to social health. Prosperity and growth help to pay for improvements in health and social services. As well, the link between educational attainment and a strong economy is clear, Cote noted. The high dropout rate in Montreal-area schools is closely linked to the incidence of poverty. To ensure that growth continues, Montreal will have to address tough challenges, including: the aging of its population, the impact of globalization and the competitive threat from such emerging economies as China, India, Russia and Brazil. The city also needs huge infrastructure repairs. And a way must be found to reorganize municipal finances so that it can meet the needs of citizens. If Montreal can do a better job in these areas, it should be well-positioned to compete, because its economy is diversified and increasingly driven by knowledge industries. "Montreal's fundamental comparative advantage is in advanced manufacturing," Cote says. The city has a skilled and stable work force that attracts investment. "Our advanced manufacturing industries are not too threatened by the developing countries." Of all the challenges ahead, Cote says the biggest one may be remaining an open and international city while retaining the French character of Montreal. "We have to stay open," he said. "We have to accommodate more immigrants. But we have to get them to accept French. Otherwise, they don't have jobs, they're not happy and they leave." Montreal has done a fairly good job of retaining new immigrants but must get them into the workforce faster. "The fact that Montreal is French in North America is our fundamental challenge. We want to keep it this way, we like it this way, it makes a very interesting city. But it has its problems." Cote added, however, that if cities like Brussels, Amsterdam and London can retain an international quality, Montreal can too. Immigration is key to both arresting the city's demographic decline and positioning it to prosper in the global economy. [email protected]
  11. Economic meltdown : The Big Fix Article Tools Sponsored By By DAVID LEONHARDT Published: January 27, 2009 NYC Times I. WHITHER GROWTH? The economy will recover. It won’t recover anytime soon. It is likely to get significantly worse over the course of 2009, no matter what President Obama and Congress do. And resolving the financial crisis will require both aggressiveness and creativity. In fact, the main lesson from other crises of the past century is that governments tend to err on the side of too much caution — of taking the punch bowl away before the party has truly started up again. “The mistake the United States made during the Depression and the Japanese made during the ’90s was too much start-stop in their policies,” said Timothy Geithner, Obama’s choice for Treasury secretary, when I went to visit him in his transition office a few weeks ago. Japan announced stimulus measures even as it was cutting other government spending. Franklin Roosevelt flirted with fiscal discipline midway through the New Deal, and the country slipped back into decline. Geithner arguably made a similar miscalculation himself last year as a top Federal Reserve official who was part of a team that allowed Lehman Brothers to fail. But he insisted that the Obama administration had learned history’s lesson. “We’re just not going to make that mistake,” Geithner said. “We’re not going to do that. We’ll keep at it until it’s done, whatever it takes.” Once governments finally decide to use the enormous resources at their disposal, they have typically been able to shock an economy back to life. They can put to work the people, money and equipment sitting idle, until the private sector is willing to begin using them again. The prescription developed almost a century ago by John Maynard Keynes does appear to work. But while Washington has been preoccupied with stimulus and bailouts, another, equally important issue has received far less attention — and the resolution of it is far more uncertain. What will happen once the paddles have been applied and the economy’s heart starts beating again? How should the new American economy be remade? Above all, how fast will it grow? That last question may sound abstract, even technical, compared with the current crisis. Yet the consequences of a country’s growth rate are not abstract at all. Slow growth makes almost all problems worse. Fast growth helps solve them. As Paul Romer, an economist at Stanford University, has said, the choices that determine a country’s growth rate “dwarf all other economic-policy concerns.” Growth is the only way for a government to pay off its debts in a relatively quick and painless fashion, allowing tax revenues to increase without tax rates having to rise. That is essentially what happened in the years after World War II. When the war ended, the federal government’s debt equaled 120 percent of the gross domestic product (more than twice as high as its likely level by the end of next year). The rapid economic growth of the 1950s and ’60s — more than 4 percent a year, compared with 2.5 percent in this decade — quickly whittled that debt away. Over the coming 25 years, if growth could be lifted by just one-tenth of a percentage point a year, the extra tax revenue would completely pay for an $800 billion stimulus package. Yet there are real concerns that the United States’ economy won’t grow enough to pay off its debts easily and ensure rising living standards, as happened in the postwar decades. The fraternity of growth experts in the economics profession predicts that the economy, on its current path, will grow more slowly in the next couple of decades than over the past couple. They are concerned in part because two of the economy’s most powerful recent engines have been exposed as a mirage: the explosion in consumer debt and spending, which lifted short-term growth at the expense of future growth, and the great Wall Street boom, which depended partly on activities that had very little real value. Richard Freeman, a Harvard economist, argues that our bubble economy had something in common with the old Soviet economy. The Soviet Union’s growth was artificially raised by massive industrial output that ended up having little use. Ours was artificially raised by mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and even the occasional Ponzi scheme. Where will new, real sources of growth come from? Wall Street is not likely to cure the nation’s economic problems. Neither, obviously, is Detroit. Nor is Silicon Valley, at least not by itself. Well before the housing bubble burst, the big productivity gains brought about by the 1990s technology boom seemed to be petering out, which suggests that the Internet may not be able to fuel decades of economic growth in the way that the industrial inventions of the early 20th century did. Annual economic growth in the current decade, even excluding the dismal contributions that 2008 and 2009 will make to the average, has been the slowest of any decade since the 1930s. So for the first time in more than 70 years, the epicenter of the American economy can be placed outside of California or New York or the industrial Midwest. It can be placed in Washington. Washington won’t merely be given the task of pulling the economy out of the immediate crisis. It will also have to figure out how to put the American economy on a more sustainable path — to help it achieve fast, broadly shared growth and do so without the benefit of a bubble. Obama said as much in his inauguration speech when he pledged to overhaul Washington’s approach to education, health care, science and infrastructure, all in an effort to “lay a new foundation for growth.” For centuries, people have worried that economic growth had limits — that the only way for one group to prosper was at the expense of another. The pessimists, from Malthus and the Luddites and on, have been proved wrong again and again. Growth is not finite. But it is also not inevitable. It requires a strategy. II. THE UPSIDE OF A DOWNTURN TWO WEEKS AFTER THE ELECTION, Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, appeared before an audience of business executives and laid out an idea that Lawrence H. Summers, Obama’s top economic adviser, later described to me as Rahm’s Doctrine. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Emanuel said. “What I mean by that is that it’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before.” In part, the idea is standard political maneuvering. Obama had an ambitious agenda — on health care, energy and taxes — before the economy took a turn for the worse in the fall, and he has an interest in connecting the financial crisis to his pre-existing plans. “Things we had postponed for too long, that were long term, are now immediate and must be dealt with,” Emanuel said in November. Of course, the existence of the crisis doesn’t force the Obama administration to deal with education or health care. But the fact that the economy appears to be mired in its worst recession in a generation may well allow the administration to confront problems that have festered for years. That’s the crux of the doctrine. The counterargument is hardly trivial — namely, that the financial crisis is so serious that the administration shouldn’t distract itself with other matters. That is a risk, as is the additional piling on of debt for investments that might not bear fruit for a long while. But Obama may not have the luxury of trying to deal with the problems separately. This crisis may be his one chance to begin transforming the economy and avoid future crises. In the early 1980s, an economist named Mancur Olson developed a theory that could fairly be called the academic version of Rahm’s Doctrine. Olson, a University of Maryland professor who died in 1998, is one of those academics little known to the public but famous among his peers. His seminal work, “The Rise and Decline of Nations,” published in 1982, helped explain how stable, affluent societies tend to get in trouble. The book turns out to be a surprisingly useful guide to the current crisis. In Olson’s telling, successful countries give rise to interest groups that accumulate more and more influence over time. Eventually, the groups become powerful enough to win government favors, in the form of new laws or friendly regulators. These favors allow the groups to benefit at the expense of everyone else; not only do they end up with a larger piece of the economy’s pie, but they do so in a way that keeps the pie from growing as much as it otherwise would. Trade barriers and tariffs are the classic example. They help the domestic manufacturer of a product at the expense of millions of consumers, who must pay high prices and choose from a limited selection of goods. Olson’s book was short but sprawling, touching on everything from the Great Depression to the caste system in India. His primary case study was Great Britain in the decades after World War II. As an economic and military giant for more than two centuries, it had accumulated one of history’s great collections of interest groups — miners, financial traders and farmers, among others. These interest groups had so shackled Great Britain’s economy by the 1970s that its high unemployment and slow growth came to be known as “British disease.” Germany and Japan, on the other hand, were forced to rebuild their economies and political systems after the war. Their interest groups were wiped away by the defeat. “In a crisis, there is an opportunity to rearrange things, because the status quo is blown up,” Frank Levy, an M.I.T. economist and an Olson admirer, told me recently. If a country slowly glides down toward irrelevance, he said, the constituency for reform won’t take shape. Olson’s insight was that the defeated countries of World War II didn’t rise in spite of crisis. They rose because of it. The parallels to the modern-day United States, though not exact, are plain enough. This country’s long period of economic pre-eminence has produced a set of interest groups that, in Olson’s words, “reduce efficiency and aggregate income.” Home builders and real estate agents pushed for housing subsidies, which made many of them rich but made the real estate bubble possible. Doctors, drug makers and other medical companies persuaded the federal government to pay for expensive treatments that have scant evidence of being effective. Those treatments are the primary reason this country spends so much more than any other on medicine. In these cases, and in others, interest groups successfully lobbied for actions that benefited them and hurt the larger economy. Surely no interest group fits Olson’s thesis as well as Wall Street. It used an enormous amount of leverage — debt — to grow to unprecedented size. At times Wall Street seemed ubiquitous. Eight Major League ballparks are named for financial-services companies, as are the theater for the Alvin Ailey dance company, a top children’s hospital in New York and even a planned entrance of the St. Louis Zoo. At Princeton, the financial-engineering program, meant to educate future titans of finance, enrolled more undergraduates than any of the traditional engineering programs. Before the stock market crashed last year, finance companies earned 27 percent of the nation’s corporate profits, up from about 15 percent in the 1970s and ’80s. These profits bought political influence. Congress taxed the income of hedge-fund managers at a lower rate than most everyone else’s. Regulators didn’t ask too many hard questions and then often moved on to a Wall Street job of their own. In good times — or good-enough times — the political will to beat back such policies simply doesn’t exist. Their costs are too diffuse, and their benefits too concentrated. A crisis changes the dynamic. It’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before. England’s crisis was the Winter of Discontent, in 1978-79, when strikes paralyzed the country and many public services shut down. The resulting furor helped elect Margaret Thatcher as prime minister and allowed her to sweep away some of the old economic order. Her laissez-faire reforms were flawed in some important ways — taken to an extreme, they helped create the current financial crisis — and they weren’t the only reason for England’s turnaround. But they made a difference. In the 30 years since her election, England has grown faster than Germany or Japan. III. THE INVESTMENT GAP ONE GOOD WAY TO UNDERSTAND the current growth slowdown is to think of the debt-fueled consumer-spending spree of the past 20 years as a symbol of an even larger problem. As a country we have been spending too much on the present and not enough on the future. We have been consuming rather than investing. We’re suffering from investment-deficit disorder. You can find examples of this disorder in just about any realm of American life. Walk into a doctor’s office and you will be asked to fill out a long form with the most basic kinds of information that you have provided dozens of times before. Walk into a doctor’s office in many other rich countries and that information — as well as your medical history — will be stored in computers. These electronic records not only reduce hassle; they also reduce medical errors. Americans cannot avail themselves of this innovation despite the fact that the United States spends far more on health care, per person, than any other country. We are spending our money to consume medical treatments, many of which have only marginal health benefits, rather than to invest it in ways that would eventually have far broader benefits. Along similar lines, Americans are indefatigable buyers of consumer electronics, yet a smaller share of households in the United States has broadband Internet service than in Canada, Japan, Britain, South Korea and about a dozen other countries. Then there’s education: this country once led the world in educational attainment by a wide margin. It no longer does. And transportation: a trip from Boston to Washington, on the fastest train in this country, takes six-and-a-half hours. A trip from Paris to Marseilles, roughly the same distance, takes three hours — a result of the French government’s commitment to infrastructure. These are only a few examples. Tucked away in the many statistical tables at the Commerce Department are numbers on how much the government and the private sector spend on investment and research — on highways, software, medical research and other things likely to yield future benefits. Spending by the private sector hasn’t changed much over time. It was equal to 17 percent of G.D.P. 50 years ago, and it is about 17 percent now. But spending by the government — federal, state and local — has changed. It has dropped from about 7 percent of G.D.P. in the 1950s to about 4 percent now. Governments have a unique role to play in making investments for two main reasons. Some activities, like mass transportation and pollution reduction, have societal benefits but not necessarily financial ones, and the private sector simply won’t undertake them. And while many other kinds of investments do bring big financial returns, only a fraction of those returns go to the original investor. This makes the private sector reluctant to jump in. As a result, economists say that the private sector tends to spend less on research and investment than is economically ideal. Historically, the government has stepped into the void. It helped create new industries with its investments. Economic growth has many causes, including demographics and some forces that economists admit they don’t understand. But government investment seems to have one of the best track records of lifting growth. In the 1950s and ’60s, the G.I. Bill created a generation of college graduates, while the Interstate System of highways made the entire economy more productive. Later, the Defense Department developed the Internet, which spawned AOL, Google and the rest. The late ’90s Internet boom was the only sustained period in the last 35 years when the economy grew at 4 percent a year. It was also the only time in the past 35 years when the incomes of the poor and the middle class rose at a healthy pace. Growth doesn’t ensure rising living standards for everyone, but it sure helps. Even so, the idea that the government would be playing a much larger role in promoting economic growth would have sounded radical, even among Democrats, until just a few months ago. After all, the European countries that have tried guiding huge swaths of their economies — that have kept their arms around the “commanding heights,” in Lenin’s enduring phrase — have grown even more slowly than this country in recent years. But the credit crunch and the deepening recession have changed the discussion here. The federal government seems as if it was doing too little to take advantage of the American economy’s enormous assets: its size, its openness and its mobile, risk-taking work force. The government is also one of the few large entities today able to borrow at a low interest rate. It alone can raise the capital that could transform the economy in the kind of fundamental ways that Olson described. “This recession is a critical economic problem — it is a crisis,” Summers told me recently. “But a moment when there are millions of people who are unemployed, when the federal government can borrow money over the long term at under 3 percent and when we face long-run fiscal problems is also a moment of great opportunity to make investments in the future of the country that have lagged for a long time.” He then told a story that John F. Kennedy liked to tell, about an early-20th-century French marshal named Hubert Lyautey. “The guy says to his gardener, ‘Could you plant a tree?’ ” Summers said. “The gardener says, ‘Come on, it’s going to take 50 years before you see anything out of that tree.’ The guy says, ‘It’s going to take 50 years? Really? Then plant it this morning.’ ” IV. STIMULUS VS. TRANSFORMATION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S FIRST CHANCE to build a new economy — an investment economy — is the stimulus package that has been dominating policy discussions in Washington. Obama has repeatedly said he wants it to be a down payment on solving bigger problems. The twin goals, he said recently, are to “immediately jump-start job creation and long-term growth.” But it is not easy to balance those goals. For the bill to provide effective stimulus, it simply has to spend money — quickly. Employing people to dig ditches and fill them up again would qualify. So would any of the “shovel ready” projects that have made it onto the list of stimulus possibilities. Even the construction of a mob museum in Las Vegas, a project that was crossed off the list after Republicans mocked it, would work to stimulate the economy, so long as ground was broken soon. Pork and stimulus aren’t mutually exclusive. But pork won’t transform an economy. Neither will the tax cuts that are likely to be in the plan. Sometimes a project can give an economy a lift and also lead to transformation, but sometimes the goals are at odds, at least in the short term. Nothing demonstrates this quandary quite so well as green jobs, which are often cited as the single best hope for driving the post-bubble economy. Obama himself makes this case. Consumer spending has been the economic engine of the past two decades, he has said. Alternative energy will supposedly be the engine of the future — a way to save the planet, reduce the amount of money flowing to hostile oil-producing countries and revive the American economy, all at once. Put in these terms, green jobs sounds like a free lunch. Green jobs can certainly provide stimulus. Obama’s proposal includes subsidies for companies that make wind turbines, solar power and other alternative energy sources, and these subsidies will create some jobs. But the subsidies will not be nearly enough to eliminate the gap between the cost of dirty, carbon-based energy and clean energy. Dirty-energy sources — oil, gas and coal — are cheap. That’s why we have become so dependent on them. The only way to create huge numbers of clean-energy jobs would be to raise the cost of dirty-energy sources, as Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade carbon-reduction program would do, to make them more expensive than clean energy. This is where the green-jobs dream gets complicated. For starters, of the $700 billion we spend each year on energy, more than half stays inside this country. It goes to coal companies or utilities here, not to Iran or Russia. If we begin to use less electricity, those utilities will cut jobs. Just as important, the current, relatively low price of energy allows other companies — manufacturers, retailers, even white-collar enterprises — to sell all sorts of things at a profit. Raising that cost would raise the cost of almost everything that businesses do. Some projects that would have been profitable to Boeing, Kroger or Microsoft in the current economy no longer will be. Jobs that would otherwise have been created won’t be. As Rob Stavins, a leading environmental economist, says, “Green jobs will, to some degree, displace other jobs.” Just think about what happened when gas prices began soaring last spring: sales of some hybrids increased, but vehicle sales fell overall. None of this means that Obama’s climate policy is a mistake. Raising the price of carbon makes urgent sense, for the well-being of the planet and of the human race. And the economic costs of a serious climate policy are unlikely to be nearly as big as the alarmists — lobbyists and members of Congress trying to protect old-line energy industries — suggest. Various analyses of Obama’s cap-and-trade plan, including one by Stavins, suggest that after it is fully implemented, it would cost less than 1 percent of gross domestic product a year, or about $100 billion in today’s terms. That cost is entirely manageable. But it’s still a cost. Or perhaps we should think of it as an investment. Like so much in the economy, our energy policy has been geared toward the short term. Inexpensive energy made daily life easier and less expensive for all of us. Building a green economy, on the other hand, will require some sacrifice. In the end, that sacrifice should pay a handsome return in the form of icecaps that don’t melt and droughts that don’t happen — events with costs of their own. Over time, the direct economic costs of a new energy policy may also fall. A cap-and-trade program will create incentives for the private sector to invest in alternative energy, which will lead to innovations and lower prices. Some of the new clean-energy spending, meanwhile, really will replace money now flowing overseas and create jobs here. But all those benefits will come later. The costs will come sooner, which is a big reason we do not already have a green economy — or an investment economy. V. CURING INEFFICIENCIES WASHINGTON’S CHALLENGE on energy policy is to rewrite the rules so that the private sector can start building one of tomorrow’s big industries. On health care, the challenge is keeping one of tomorrow’s industries from growing too large. For almost two decades, spending on health care grew rapidly, no matter what the rest of the economy was doing. Some of this is only natural. As a society gets richer and the basic comforts of life become commonplace, people will choose to spend more of their money on health and longevity instead of a third car or a fourth television. Much of the increases in health care spending, however, are a result of government rules that have made the sector a fabulously — some say uniquely — inefficient sector. These inefficiencies have left the United States spending far more than other countries on medicine and, by many measures, getting worse results. The costs of health care are now so large that it has become one problem that cannot be solved by growth alone. It’s qualitatively different from the other budget problems facing the government, like the Wall Street bailout, the stimulus, the war in Iraq or Social Security. You can see that by looking at various costs as a share of one year of economic output — that is, gross domestic product. Surprisingly, the debt that the federal government has already accumulated doesn’t present much of a problem. It is equal to about $6 trillion, or 40 percent of G.D.P., a level that is slightly lower than the average of the past six decades. The bailout, the stimulus and the rest of the deficits over the next two years will probably add about 15 percent of G.D.P. to the debt. That will take debt to almost 60 percent, which is above its long-term average but well below the levels of the 1950s. But the unfinanced parts of Medicare, the spending that the government has promised over and above the taxes it will collect in the coming decades requires another decimal place. They are equal to more than 200 percent of current G.D.P. During the campaign, Obama talked about the need to control medical costs and mentioned a few ideas for doing so, but he rarely lingered on the topic. He spent more time talking about expanding health-insurance coverage, which would raise the government’s bill. After the election, however, when time came to name a budget director, Obama sent a different message. He appointed Peter Orszag, who over the last two years has become one of the country’s leading experts on the looming budget mess that is health care. Orszag is a tall, 40-year-old Massachusetts native, made taller by his preference for cowboy boots, who has risen through the Democratic policy ranks over the last 15 years. He received a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, later joined the Clinton White House and, from 2007, was the director of the Congressional Budget Office. While there, he devoted himself to studying health care, believing that it was far more important to the future of the budget than any other issue in front of Congress. He nearly doubled the number of health care analysts in the office, to 50. Obama highlighted this work when he announced Orszag’s appointment in November. In Orszag’s final months on Capitol Hill, he specifically argued that health care reform should not wait until the financial system has been fixed. “One of the blessings in the current environment is that we have significant capacity to expand and sell Treasury debt,” he told me recently. “If we didn’t have that, and if the financial markets didn’t have confidence that we would repay that debt, we would be in even more dire straits than we are.” Absent a health care overhaul, the federal government’s lenders around the world may eventually grow nervous about its ability to repay its debts. That, in turn, will cause them to demand higher interest rates to cover their risk when lending to the United States. Facing higher interest rates, the government won’t be able to afford the kind of loans needed to respond to a future crisis, be it financial or military. The higher rates will also depress economic growth, aggravating every other problem. So what should be done? Orszag was technically prohibited from advocating policies in his old job. But it wasn’t very hard to read between the lines. In a series of speeches around the country, in testimony to Congress and in a blog that he started (“Director’s Blog”), he laid out a fairly clear agenda. Orszag would begin his talks by explaining that the problem is not one of demographics but one of medicine. “It’s not primarily that we’re going to have more 85-year-olds,” he said during a September speech in California. “It’s primarily that each 85-year-old in the future will cost us a lot more than they cost us today.” The medical system will keep coming up with expensive new treatments, and Medicare will keep reimbursing them, even if they bring little benefit. After this introduction, Orszag would typically pause and advise his audience not to get too depressed. He would put a map of the United States on the screen behind him, showing Medicare spending by region. The higher-spending regions were shaded darker than the lower-spending regions. Orszag would then explain that the variation cannot be explained by the health of the local population or the quality of care it receives. Darker areas didn’t necessarily have sicker residents than lighter areas, nor did those residents necessarily receive better care. So, Orszag suggested, the goal of reform doesn’t need to be remaking the American health care system in the image of, say, the Dutch system. The goal seems more attainable than that. It is remaking the system of a high-spending place, like southern New Jersey or Texas, in the image of a low-spending place, like Minnesota, New Mexico or Virginia. To that end, Orszag has become intrigued by the work of Mitchell Seltzer, a hospital consultant in central New Jersey. Seltzer has collected large amounts of data from his clients on how various doctors treat patients, and his numbers present a very similar picture to the regional data. Seltzer told me that big-spending doctors typically explain their treatment by insisting they have sicker patients than their colleagues. In response he has made charts breaking down the costs of care into thin diagnostic categories, like “respiratory-system diagnosis with ventilator support, severity: 4,” in order to compare doctors who were treating the same ailment. The charts make the point clearly. Doctors who spent more — on extra tests or high-tech treatments, for instance — didn’t get better results than their more conservative colleagues. In many cases, patients of the aggressive doctors stay sicker longer and die sooner because of the risks that come with invasive care. The first step toward turning “less efficient” doctors, in Seltzer’s euphemism, into “efficient” doctors would be relatively uncontroversial. The government would have to create a national version of his database and, to do so, would need doctors and hospitals to have electronic medical records. The Obama administration plans to use the stimulus bill to help pay for the installation of such systems. It is then likely to mandate that, within five years, any doctor or hospital receiving Medicare payment must be using electronic records. The next steps will be harder. Based on what the data show, Medicare will have to stop reimbursing some expensive treatments that don’t do much good. Private insurers would likely follow Medicare’s lead, as they have on other issues in the past. Doctors, many of whom make good money from extra treatments, are sure to object, just as Mancur Olson would have predicted. They will claim that, whatever the data show, the treatments are benefiting their patients. In a few cases — though, by definition, not most — they may be right. Even when they are not, their patients, desperate for hope, may fight for the treatment. The most pessimistic point that Orszag routinely made during his time on Capitol Hill was that the political system didn’t deal well with simmering, long-term problems. It often waited until those problems became a crisis, he would say. That may be a kind of corollary to Rahm’s Doctrine, but it does highlight the task before the Obama administration. It will need to figure out how it can use one crisis as an excuse to prevent several more. VI. GRADUATES EQUAL GROWTH A GREAT APPEAL of green jobs — or, for that matter, of a growing and efficient health care sector — is that they make it possible to imagine what tomorrow’s economy might look like. They are concrete. When somebody wonders, What will replace Wall Street? What will replace housing? they can be given an answer. As answers go, green jobs and health care are fine. But they probably aren’t the best answers. The best one is less concrete. It also has a lot more historical evidence on its side. Last year, two labor economists, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, published a book called “The Race Between Education and Technology.” It is as much a work of history — the history of education — as it is a work of economics. Goldin and Katz set out to answer the question of how much an education really matters. They are themselves products of public schools, she of New York and he of Los Angeles, and they have been a couple for two decades. They are liberals (Katz served as the chief economist under Robert Reich in Bill Clinton’s Labor Department), but their book has been praised by both the right and the left. “I read the Katz and Goldin book,” Matthew Slaughter, an associate dean of Dartmouth’s business school who was an economic adviser to George W. Bush, recently told me, “and there’s part of me that can’t fathom that half the presidential debates weren’t about a couple of facts in that book.” Summers wrote a blurb for the book, calling it “the definitive treatment” of income inequality. The book’s central fact is that the United States has lost its once-wide lead in educational attainment. South Korea and Denmark graduate a larger share of their population from college — and Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom are close on our heels. Goldin and Katz explain that the original purpose of American education was political, to educate the citizens of a democracy. By the start of the 20th century, though, the purpose had become blatantly economic. As parents saw that high-school graduates were getting most of the good jobs, they started a grass-roots movement, known as the high-school movement, to demand free, public high schools in their communities. “Middletown,” the classic 1929 sociological study of life in Indiana, reported that education “evokes the fervor of a religion, a means of salvation, among a large section of the population.” At the time, some European intellectuals dismissed the new American high schools as wasteful. Instead of offering narrowly tailored apprentice programs, the United States was accused of overeducating its masses (or at least its white masses). But Goldin and Katz, digging into old population surveys, show that the American system paid huge dividends. High-school graduates filled the ranks of companies like General Electric and John Deere and used their broad base of skills to help their employers become global powers. And these new white-collar workers weren’t the only ones to benefit. A high-school education also paid off for blue-collar workers. Those with a diploma were far more likely to enter newer, better-paying, more technologically advanced industries. They became plumbers, jewelers, electricians, auto mechanics and railroad engineers. Not only did mass education increase the size of the nation’s economic pie; it also evened out the distribution. The spread of high schools — by 1940, half of teenagers were getting a diploma — meant that graduates were no longer an elite group. In economic terms, their supply had increased, which meant that the wage premium that came with a diploma was now spread among a larger group of workers. Sure enough, inequality fell rapidly in the middle decades of the 20th century. But then the great education boom petered out, starting in the late 1960s. The country’s worst high schools never got their graduation rates close to 100 percent, while many of the fast-growing community colleges and public colleges, which were educating middle-class and poorer students, had low graduation rates. Between the early 1950s and early ’80s, the share of young adults receiving a bachelor’s degree jumped to 24 percent, from 7 percent. In the 30 years since, the share has only risen to 32 percent. Nearly all of the recent gains have come among women. For the first time on record, young men in the last couple of decades haven’t been much more educated than their fathers were. Goldin and Katz are careful to say that economic growth is not simply a matter of investing in education. And we can all name exceptions to the general rule. Bill Gates dropped out of college (though, as Malcolm Gladwell explains in his recent book, “Outliers,” Gates received a fabulously intense computer-programming education while in high school). Some college graduates struggle to make a good living, and many will lose their jobs in this recession. But these are exceptions. Goldin’s and Katz’s thesis is that the 20th century was the American century in large part because this country led the world in education. The last 30 years, when educational gains slowed markedly, have been years of slower growth and rising inequality. Their argument happens to be supported by a rich body of economic literature that didn’t even make it into the book. More-educated people are healthier, live longer and, of course, make more money. Countries that educate more of their citizens tend to grow faster than similar countries that do not. The same is true of states and regions within this country. Crucially, the income gains tend to come after the education gains. What distinguishes thriving Boston from the other struggling cities of New England? Part of the answer is the relative share of children who graduate from college. The two most affluent immigrant groups in modern America — Asian-Americans and Jews — are also the most educated. In recent decades, as the educational attainment of men has stagnated, so have their wages. The median male worker is roughly as educated as he was 30 years ago and makes roughly the same in hourly pay. The median female worker is far more educated than she was 30 years ago and makes 30 percent more than she did then. There really is no mystery about why education would be the lifeblood of economic growth. On the most basic level, education helps people figure out how to make objects and accomplish tasks more efficiently. It allows companies to make complex products that the rest of the world wants to buy and thus creates high-wage jobs. Education may not be as tangible as green jobs. But it helps a society leverage every other investment it makes, be it in medicine, transportation or alternative energy. Education — educating more people and educating them better — appears to be the best single bet that a society can make. Fortunately, we know much more than we did even a decade ago about how education works and doesn’t work. In his book, “Whatever It Takes,” (and in this magazine, where he is an editor), Paul Tough has described some of the most successful schools for poor and minority students. These schools tend to set rigorous standards, keep the students in school longer and create a disciplined, can-do culture. Many of the schools, like several middle schools run by an organization called KIPP, have had terrific results. Students enter with test scores below the national average. They leave on a path to college. The lessons of KIPP — some of the lessons, at least — also apply to schools that are not so poor. Last year, the Gates Foundation hired an economist named Thomas Kane to oversee a big new push to prepare students for college. Kane is one of the researchers whose work shows that teachers may matter more than anything else. Good teachers tend to receive high marks from parents, colleagues and principals, and they tend to teach their students much more than average teachers. Bad teachers tend to do poorly on all these metrics. The differences are usually apparent after just a couple of years on the job. Yet in a typical school system, both groups receive tenure. The Obama administration has suggested that education reform is an important goal. The education secretary is Arne Duncan, the former school superintendent in Chicago, who pushed for education changes there based on empirical data. Obama advisers say that the administration plans to use the education money in the stimulus package as leverage. States that reward good teaching and use uniform testing standards — rather than the choose-your-own-yardstick approach of the No Child Left Behind law — may get more money. But it is still unclear just how much of a push the administration will make. With the financial crisis looming so large, something as sprawling and perennially plagued as education can seem like a sideshow. Given everything else on its agenda, the Obama administration could end up financing a few promising pilot programs without actually changing much. States, for their part, will be cutting education spending to balance their budgets. A few weeks ago, I drove to Shepherd University in West Virginia to get a glimpse of both the good and bad news for education. Shepherd is the kind of public college that will need to be at the center of any effort to improve higher education. Located in a small town in the Shenandoah Valley, it attracts mostly middle-class students — from the actual middle class, not the upper middle class — and it has a graduation rate of about 35 percent. Several years ago, the state of West Virginia started a scholarship program, called Promise, in part to lift the graduation rate at places like Shepherd. The program is modeled after those in several Southern states, in which any high-school student with a certain minimum grade-point average (often 3.0) and certain SAT scores gets a hefty scholarship to any state school. When West Virginia officials were designing their program, though, they noticed a flaw with the other programs. The students weren’t required to take a course load that was big enough to let them graduate in four years. In some cases they were required to keep a minimum grade-point average, which encouraged them, perversely, to take fewer courses. Many students drifted along for a few years and then dropped out. So West Virginia changed the rules. It offered a bigger carrot — free tuition at any public college — but also a stick. Students had to take enough courses each semester so that they could graduate in four years. Judith Scott-Clayton, a young economist who analyzed the program, concluded that it had raised the on-time graduation rate by almost 7 percentage points in a state where many colleges have a graduation rate below 50 percent. Given those results, the Promise scholarship might seem like an ideal public policy in a deep recession. It pays for school at a time when many families are struggling. It keeps students busy when jobs are hard to come by. It also has the potential to do some long-term good. But nearly everyone I interviewed in West Virginia — the students, the president of Shepherd and other education officials — worried that financing would be reduced soon. The program is expensive, and state revenue is declining. Something has to give. VII. A MATTER OF NORMS WHAT STRUCK ME ABOUT the Shepherd students I met was that they didn’t seem to spend much time thinking about the credit requirement. It had become part of their reality. Many college students today assume they will not graduate in four years. Some even refer to themselves as second- or third-years, instead of sophomores or juniors. “It’s just normal all around not to be done in four years,” Chelsea Carter, a Shepherd student, told me. “People don’t push you.” Carter, in fact, introduced herself to me as a third-year. But she is also a Promise scholar, and she said she expected to graduate in four years. Her younger sister, now in her first year in the program at Shepherd, also plans to graduate in four years. For many Promise scholars, graduating on time has become the norm. Economists don’t talk much about cultural norms. They prefer to emphasize prices, taxes and other incentives. And the transformation of the American economy will depend very much on such incentives: financial aid, Medicare reimbursements, energy prices and marginal tax rates. But it will also depend on forces that aren’t quite so easy to quantify. Orszag, on his barnstorming tour to talk about the health care system, argued that his fellow economists were making a mistake by paying so little attention to norms. After all, doctors in Minnesota don’t work under a different Medicare system than doctors in New Jersey. But they do act differently. The norms of the last two decades or so — consume before invest; worry about the short term, not the long term — have been more than just a reflection of the economy. They have also affected the economy. Chief executives have fought for paychecks that their predecessors would have considered obscenely large. Technocrats inside Washington’s regulatory agencies, after listening to their bosses talk endlessly about the dangers of overregulation, made quite sure that they weren’t regulating too much. Financial engineering became a more appealing career track than actual engineering or science. In one of the small gems in their book, Goldin and Katz write that towns and cities with a large elderly population once devoted a higher-than-average share of their taxes to schools. Apparently, age made them see the benefits of education. In recent decades, though, the relationship switched. Older towns spent less than average on schools. You can imagine voters in these places asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” By any standard, the Obama administration faces an imposing economic to-do list. It will try to end the financial crisis and recession as quickly as possible, even as it starts work on an agenda that will inspire opposition from a murderers’ row of interest groups: Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Coal, the American Medical Association and teachers’ unions. Some items on the agenda will fail. But the same was true of the New Deal and the decades after World War II, the period that is obviously the model for the Obama years. Roosevelt and Truman both failed to pass universal health insurance or even a program like Medicare. Yet the successes of those years — Social Security, the highway system, the G.I. Bill, the National Science Foundation, the National Labor Relations Board — had a huge effect on the culture. The American economy didn’t simply grow rapidly in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. It grew rapidly and gave an increasing share of its bounty to the vast middle class. Middle-class incomes soared during those years, while income growth at the very top of the ladder, which had been so great in the 1920s, slowed down. The effects were too great to be explained by a neat package of policies, just as the last few decades can’t be explained only by education, investment and the like. When Washington sets out to rewrite the rules for the economy, it can pass new laws and shift money from one program to another. But the effects of those changes are not likely to be merely the obvious ones. The changes can also send signals. They can influence millions of individual decisions — about the schools people attend, the jobs they choose, the medical care they request — and, in the process, reshape the economy.
  12. http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/montreal/Number+Quebecers+leaving+province+rise/9360879/story.html BY MARIAN SCOTT, THE GAZETTE JANUARY 7, 2014 8:05 PM A total of 28,439 people moved from Quebec to another province from January to September 2013. In most cases, Quebec’s loss was Ontario’s gain, with two out of three ex-Quebecers moving to Ontario. Photograph by: Peter Redman , National Post MONTREAL - The number of Quebecers heading down the 401 is on the rise, partial statistics for 2013 suggest. Departures from Quebec to other provinces rose to their highest level this century in the first nine months of 2013, according to the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration. Statistics are not available yet for the final three months of the year. A total of 28,439 people moved from Quebec to another province from January to September 2013 — the highest number of departures for that period in any year since 2000. In most cases, Quebec’s loss was Ontario’s gain, with two out of three ex-Quebecers moving to Ontario, one in four to Alberta and just under one in ten to British Columbia, according to quarterly demographic estimates released by Statistics Canada in December. Quebec had a net loss of 11,887 residents due to interprovincial migration (departures minus arrivals) in the 12 months from October 2012 to September 2013, compared to a loss of 7,700 people in the corresponding period of 2011-12 and a loss of 4,394 in 2010-11. The rise in departures corresponds with the election of the Parti Québécois in September 2012 — but there is no evidence the political situation is a contributing factor, said Jack Jedwab, the institute’s executive vice-president.“It’s too early to say,” he said. “I would argue it’s more about our economy,” Jedwab said. “These numbers have a very recessionary look to them, at a time when we’re not in a recession.” Jedwab said the loss of residents sounds a warning signal. “Significant population losses have a negative effect on our economy,” he said. The rise in out-migration is not related to the divisive debate over the PQ government’s proposed charter of values, Jedwab said, since the departures occurred before the charter was unveiled. A National Assembly committee will commence hearings on the charter Jan. 14. But Jedwab said if the trend continues, the hypothesis that political angst is spurring departures would deserve a second look. “If it persists into the next quarter, we’ve got to start thinking non-economic considerations are at work here,” he said. The PQ government’s focus on identity issues has decreased the comfort level of some members of cultural minorities, particularly the values charter, which proposes to bar all public sector workers from wearing religious garb like the Muslim head scarf, Jewish skullcap or Sikh turban. In September, an Ontario hospital published recruitment ads aimed to capitalize on the controversy. A photo of a female health worker wearing a hijab (head scarf) bore the caption: “We don’t care what’s on your head. We care what’s in it.” Aaron Lazarus, director of communications at Lakeridge Health in Bowmanville, Ont., east of Toronto, said the hospital received several job applications from doctors, nurses and other health professionals from Quebec in response to the ads. But Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Montreal Board of Trade, warned against jumping to the conclusion that the current political climate could be causing people to leave Quebec. “What is worrisome is that we have a net loss of residents every year,” Leblanc said. “People have a tendency to migrate not only to places with better weather, but also to places where the economy is performing better,” he said. Leblanc said that while the recent increase in departures is cause for concern, it is much smaller than the massive exodus of anglophones from Quebec in the 1970s and ’80s. He called on the government to improve the integration of immigrants into the workforce and to lower taxation to retain residents. Statistics Canada’s quarterly demographic estimates showed Alberta — with a population of 4,060,700 in October 2013 — continues to lead the provinces in population growth, adding 137,703 new residents from October 2012 to September 2013, of whom 49,031 moved there from elsewhere in Canada. Ontario (population 13,585,900) had slower population growth, gaining 128,442 new residents from October 2012 to September 2013. Quebec, numbering 8,174,500 residents, added 67,385 new residents from October 2012 to September 2013, with immigration and the natural increase of the population compensating for out-migration. Previous studies have shown that about two-thirds of Quebec residents who move to other provinces are allophones — people whose first language is neither French nor English. [email protected]
  13. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1230226--toronto-ers-feel-weight-of-downtown-condo-boom Sarah-Taïssir Bencharif Staff Reporter Anil Chopra can’t believe some of the things happening in his emergency departments’ waiting rooms. Or triage areas. They’re just too crowded. It’s clear to him where the surge of people comes from. “You just have to look outside your window,” says Chopra, head of emergency medicine at the University Health Network, which comprises four hospitals: Princess Margaret, Toronto Western, Toronto General and Toronto Rehab. “Toronto has a great reputation as being a condo king in North-America,” he says. Amidst the debate ignited by Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday over who should live in the city’s downtown core, Torontonians are wondering what services are available for the increasing number of people who do. Chopra and other doctors and hospital administrators say the rate at which downtown Toronto’s density is increasing is outpacing the area hospitals’ capacity and infrastructure. Both Toronto Western and Toronto General’s emergency departments have exceeded their capacities, with a combined total of more than 100,000 visits to the ER every year. “We do things I wouldn’t have imagined,” says Chopra. Nurses in his department started doing some therapies right in the triage area. Patients with IV drips are sitting in chairs — there aren’t enough beds. Chopra’s had to examine patients’ right in the waiting room, “knowing full well I’m in earshot of other people,” he says. “Otherwise, they will wait four more hours.” He doesn’t like saying it, but they’re just trying to survive. The city and province’s plans to curb urban sprawl have pushed development vertically with a multitude of condos sprouting up in the downtown core. While there are environmental and social benefits to building up, doctors say hospital infrastructure hasn’t been able to catch up. The emergency waiting rooms are getting as crowded as Toronto’s skyline. “We’re seeing a 5 to 10 per cent increase (in emergency room patients) year after year after year,” says Chopra. “It seems to be endless.” Planning for downtown urban growth can be challenging, says Sandeep Agrawal, professor of planning at Ryerson University. Usually, when planners prepare new subdivisions, they design and allocate services according to the planned density. “Downtown, it’s a bit the other way around, where the population has increased multiple folds and hospitals have to keep up with that,” he says. “Obviously they were not designed initially to cater to that density.” Agrawal is worried urban planners have forgotten their discipline’s original purpose which was to mitigate the spread of disease caused by living in close quarters. “City planning as a profession has moved far from health planning agencies with relatively little or no contact with health and health planning agencies,” he writes in an email. In downtown Toronto, the quarters are getting closer. The city’s population grew by almost 112,000 residents, a rise of 4.5 per cent between 2006 and 2011. That’s more than five times the growth reported in the previous five-year period, according to Statistics Canada. The city of Toronto’s website reports there are 132 high rises currently under construction. It’s the most out of any city in the world. The Ministry of Infrastructure’s plan for Toronto is to increase the density of residents and jobs in downtown Toronto to a minimum of 400 per hectare by 2031. That figure is already at 708 jobs and residents per hectare in Toronto Centre, according to MPP Glen Murray’s office. The downtown population boom has also put pressure on St. Michael’s Hospital. When its emergency department was built in 1983, it was designed to handle 45,000 patients a year. Today, that department annually sees more than 70,000 patients. That figure is growing alarmingly fast. “We’ve been going up 5 to 8 per cent a year over the last five years,” says Doug Sinclair, St. Mike’s executive vice-president and chief medical officer. He says there are likely other factors behind the rapid increase in the number of ER visits, but the increased downtown population is an important one. “The vast majority of patients who come to St. Mike’s are from the downtown area . . . most of the emergency department visits are local. We’re presuming it’s had an effect,” he says. It’s hard to beat the rush. Since securing government approval for a hospital revitalization project which will include a new 17-storey patient care tower, they’ve had to revise the emergency department’s size and resources to fit the new volume of patients. But it’s nearly impossible to really build for future projections. “We can design it for the number we have now or guesstimate a few thousand more, but clearly the government never wants to build something too big,” says Sinclair. Money is tight. The Ministry of Infrastructure sets its density forecasts and communicates them to other relevant ministries, like the Ministry of Health. The two are responsible for funding and building hospitals in the province. The Ministry of Health changed its funding model from an across-the-board increase to funding hospitals based on the services they deliver. This should provide funding that better matches each hospital’s changing population and needs, according to Tori Gass, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health. But emergency doctors like Chopra aren’t sure the new funding model or all the cost-saving strategies already in place will help them much. “I’m not that optimistic,” he says.
  14. Wanted: biotech plan By DAVID CRANE, FreelanceFebruary 19, 2009 Sector in peril. New financing schemes are needed to maintain health of industry vital to Quebec's future New financing schemes are needed to maintain health of biotechnology industry vital to Quebec's future New financing schemes are needed to maintain health of biotechnology industry vital to Quebec's future Photograph by: Chris Schwarz, From Gazette Files Montreal has big ambitions to become a major biomedical centre in North America. The hope is that this will lead to jobs and wealth creation, just as promoting the aerospace industry has done. And it could. There's an obvious reason why. The world is on the verge of a biomedical revolution that will be a source of good jobs and prosperity for those societies that succeed in developing and commercializing the new knowledge. If the 20th century was known for great advances in the physical sciences and engineering, giving us the information and communication technology revolution, the 21st century could very well be the century of the biological revolution. But with all the new knowledge flowing out of universities and research hospitals, there's a huge problem - how to finance the growth of young startups commercializing this new knowledge into viable companies with a steady flow of revenues and profits. Montreal, for example, has dozens of such companies - like Theratechnologies, ConjuChem Biotechnologies, ProMetic Life Sciences, Enobia Pharma, Akela Pharma, Thallion Pharmaceuticals, Haemacure Corp., CryoCath Technologies, Paladin Labs, Ambrilia BioPhage Pharma, MethylGene, Alethia Biotherapeutics, Supratek Pharma, AngioChem and many more. Quite a few have products either now reaching the market or close to commercialization, or have promising projects in the clinical testing pipeline. But they must be able to attract the financing they need to keep on the road to potential success. In Canada today, the biotech industry is at a crucial point. Venture capital funding is drying up and many companies are running out of cash. Promising young companies may have to delay development of promising compounds. Or they could be forced to sell to bigger, usually foreign, players at bargain- basement prices. According to Thomson Reuters, which tracks venture investing in Canada, Montreal-area life-science companies raised only $69.9 million in venture capital last year, compared with $219.4 million in 2007. This year could be even more difficult. According to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, only $1.2 billion in new money for investment by venture firms in all high-tech sectors was raised last year, the lowest level on record since the mid-1990s. This is why we urgently need new financing mechanisms to sustain and grow our own life science companies. This should include a capacity to bring about mergers between young Canadian companies where complementarities exist. The industry had hoped the recent federal budget would help address their problems, but advocacy by groups such as BIOTECanada and the Canadian Venture and Private Equity Association were ignored by the Harper government. BIOTECanada had sought several initiatives. These included a one-time redemption for unused tax losses, limited to the lesser of $20 million or twice a company's annual R&D spending, and an exemption from capital-gains taxes in 2009 and 2010 for investors making new direct investments. Both measures would have required companies to reinvest in Canada. The venture-capital industry had sought creation of a $300-million fund of funds to invest in young companies and changes to the R&D tax incentive. British and U.S. biotech companies are facing many of the same challenges. In Britain, some 20 industry and academic leaders have urged the government to set up a $1.8-billion biotech fund, with half coming from government and half from the private sector. The group also wants a separate $900-million fund to make equity investments of $85 million to $170 million to help a small number of companies become more significant companies. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has established a task force to follow up on this. The biotech industry is especially hard to finance. Not only are the human body, and disease, quite complex. But biotech development cycles are long and costly - projects can take up to 20 years to become successful and cost between $200 million to $300 million, or more, to bring to market. Few compounds succeed. All of these factors make R&D financing a challenge. But the goal to improve human health is important and the economic rewards can be high. This, though, depends on finding a better financing model if either of these is to be realized in Montreal or elsewhere. David Crane is a Toronto-based writer on innovation and globalization issues. He can be reached at [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  15. YMCA taking on new name in Quebec By Katherine Wilton The Gazette , January 7 After a storied 158-year history, the YMCA name is disappearing from the Montreal landscape. The charitable organization, first established in 1851 to minister to the poor, is rebranding itself as the Ys of Québec to better reflect its evolving work in communities outside of Montreal. The rebranding, which is only being done in Quebec, also includes a new logo which retains the “Y,” because members have long used the shortened name. “We are presenting ourselves as the Ys of Québec because people are calling us that, they have been calling us that for decades,” said Stéphane Vaillancourt, president and CEO of the Ys of Québec. “As well, we are moving from the Montreal area to the entire province. We have programming across the province in places like St. Sauveur, Quebec City and Joliette. We want to get in touch with more people and families throughout the province.” Vaillancourt said the group wants the community to know that it does more than just health, fitness and recreation. “We want to show people that the Y is more than just a gym – that we do good for other areas of the community. Apart from offering gym and pool facilities, the Y offers a wide range of programs in health and fitness, youth and leadership development. For example, several Ys and their partner organizations across Quebec offer a program called Alternative Suspension, which offers tutoring and workshops to teens suspended from school. North America’s first Young Men’s Christian Association was established in Montreal in 1851. The Y has nine centres across Montreal and is building a 10th centre in the city’s Cartierville district. The Y is not planning to construct new buildings across the province, but wants to work in partnership with independent organizations to provide programming developed by the Y. So what does the name change mean for the popular 1979 dance song “Y.M.C.A.” by the Village People? Vaillancourt said he wasn’t sure if the group would come out of retirement to write a song about the Ys of Québec. “I don’t think that would be necessary,” he joked. [email protected] thegazette.canwest.com
  16. Quebec to limit family doctors next year Aaron Derfel Gazette health reporter Friday, November 28, 2008 Despite a shortage of doctors across the province, the Quebec government is planning to issue fewer permits than the actual number of graduates in family medicine next year, The Gazette has learned. A total of 238 doctors are expected to complete their residencies in family medicine and pass their board exams in 2009. However, the government is counting on issuing 220 permits, according to the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners. The gap stems from a five-year-old permits policy aimed at making sure that young doctors start their careers in short-staffed regions across the province. In the past, the government had issued more permits than the graduating class, and some regions had a harder recruiting new doctors. This year, however, the government has decided to keep a tight lid on permits to make sure that all regions are able to hire new doctors. But the policy - known as Plans régionaux d'effectifs médicaux or PREMs - has actually backfired and led to an exodus of mostly anglophone, Quebec-trained doctors quitting the province for Ontario and elsewhere, say critics. "It's absurd," said Mark Roper, a Westmount family physician, who is also chairman of the medical manpower committee of the Regional Department of General Medicine of Montreal. "It's almost like they're pushing young doctors out of the province." Most new doctors prefer to practise in Montreal rather than in small rural communities. Quebec has offered doctors financial carrots to work in the Far North, but it has used the stick to get them to practise in La Mauricie, the Outaouais and other regions. Before the PREMs, new doctors who decided to stay in Montreal were docked 30 per cent of their billings for the first three years of their careers. Most doctors toughed it out, so the government switched to the more restrictive PREM system. Each year, the Health Department - in co-operation with the federation of GPs - decides on a certain number of positiongs for the 15 regions of Quebec. Newly-graduated doctors must then apply for positions in a number of regions. Most apply to work in Montreal as their first choice, and if they don't get accepted, they are more likely to get hired by another region. For Montreal, the government has decided to issue only 54 permits even though the city has a shortage of about 300 family doctors. If new doctors decide to stay in Montreal, their billings will be docked by 25 per cent, not for the first three years but their entire careers. Figures obtained by The Gazette show that recruitment was actually higher before the PREMs system went into effect in every region except La Mauricie. So where have all those young doctors gone? Coincidentally, Quebec has been a net exporter of doctors to other provinces in the past five years, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Serge Dulude, director of planning at the federation of GPs, confirmed the gap between the number of permits to be issued and the graduating class. But he said that these are projections and adjustments can be made. Some doctors might decide to pursue another medical specialization apart from family medicine. Others might fail their board exams. There are also young doctors who go on sick or maternity leaves, and so won't be applying for a PREM. "Besides that, some decide to take a break and to travel for a year, some decide not to go into medicine (after all), and some decide to leave Quebec." Health Minister Yves Bolduc has defended the PREMs policy as necessary, saying that without it some regions would have even bigger shortages of doctors. Marie-Éve Bédard, Bolduc's press attaché, provided The Gazette with different figures, but they still show a gap. She said that the government is projecting next year 217 new doctors, or new billers as it prefers to call them. At the same time, the governmet expects to issue 211 PREMs. However, she said that some regions still have PREMs that have gone unfilled from previous years, and when those are included, the true total is 235. Still, the federation of GPs is projecting a graduating class of 238. "It's totally false to suggest that this incites new doctors to practise elsewhere," Bédard said of the PREMs policy. "We're aware that there is a shortage and we have designed a plan to make sure that there is a fair distribution of doctors in all regions." Even so, the Quebec College of Physicians has criticized the PREMs policy as restrictive, and most doctors bitterly complain about it. Doris Streg, a Montreal GP who graduated in 1978, described the PREMs system as "magical thinking." The government is "not discussing the real bottleneck, which is the PREMs," Streg said in an email. "No matter how many new doctors are graduated, there will be no increase in availability of GPs to Montrealers unless this policy is removed." [email protected] © Montreal Gazette 2008
  17. Canadian health care system lags behind Europe, study says The Canadian Press January 21, 2008 at 2:57 AM EST, The Globe & Mail (online edition) OTTAWA — Canada ranks 23rd out of 30 countries surveyed in the “consumer friendliness” of its health care system, says a new report compiled by European and Canadian researchers. The study undertaken by a pair of private think tanks — the Winnipeg-based Frontier Centre for Public Policy and Brussels-based Health Consumer Powerhouse — measured Canada's performance against that of 29 European nations. It found Canada scored well in terms of medical outcomes, a category that included factors such as heart attack and cancer survival rates and data on a range of other medical procedures. But the Canadian score plunged in areas such as waiting times for treatment, range of services available, ready access to new drugs and some diagnostic tools, and the legal rights of patients. Austria was at the top of the list, with an overall score of 806 of a possible 1,000 points on a complex statistical grid. The next five finishers in order were the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. Canada was three-quarters of the way down the list with 550 points out of 1,000, a showing that was better than countries like Latvia and Poland but not as good as the U.K., Czech Republic, Spain and Estonia. The study is billed as the first annual Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index, although it consists essentially of plugging Canadian data into European rankings that have been published for the last several years. Comparing Canada with Europe, rather than with its next-door neighbour the United States, offers a better picture of the state of national health care, say the study's sponsors. “The Canadian health care system — publicly financed and governed — has much more in common with most European systems than it does with the American one,” said a joint statement by Johan Hjertqvist of Health Consumer Powerhouse and Peter Holle, president of the Frontier Centre. They promised another report later this year comparing Canadian provinces with each other to “support further debate” about health care in Canada. Mr. Hjertqvist has made a name in his native Swede, and across Europe, as an advocate of a greater role for private medical services within an overall system that is publicly funded. The Frontier Centre describes itself as non-partisan and independent, but critics say it has a decidedly right-wing philosophy. The organization was at the centre of a controversy last year when it was given a contract by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to study electoral reform — even though it was already on record as favouring the current first-past-the-post system. The consumer health study notes that “no one country excels across the entire range” of statistical indicators used to compile the rankings. It notes, however, that countries with “pluralistic financing” — systems that feature multiple insurers and a for-profit component — generally score high on issues like patient rights and access to medical records and information. By contrast, countries like Canada suffer from an “expert-driven attitude” that isn't as consumer friendly. The thumbnail verdict on Canada is: “Solid outcomes, moderate to poor provision levels and very poor scores with regard to patients' rights and accessibility.” The study also notes that Canada spends more on health care than any other country surveyed, even though it obtains poorer than average results. That means Canada ranks dead last out of 30 on yet another statistical grid called the Bang for the Buck index.