Categories
Governance Health Human rights Justice Population

Now that assisted suicide and euthanasia is legal, what Canadians can expect: Literature review

The arbitrary second deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada for the coming into force of its arbitrary and senseless decision to invalidate Criminal Code protections against assisted suicide and euthanasia has arrived. Unless further extended, as of today Canadians wishing to commit suicide but too squeamish to do so themselves can take a shot at finding a doctor to kill them.

While the government will likely make the case for pushing through its proposed legislation, Bill C-14 a.k.a. the Medical Assistance in Dying Bill, it will have little practical effect. While presented as taking a conservative approach by only allowing individuals whose “death is reasonably foreseeable” to consent to being killed, Bill C-14 contemplates extending such consent to “mature minors” and those with mental illness within less than 180 days after it’s passed.

So what can Canadians expect to flow from this ill-considered decision to legalise consent to being killed? Unfortunately, a review of the literature in jurisdictions that legalised assisted suicide and euthanasia prior to Canada isn’t encouraging.

Categories
Governance Health Human rights Justice Population

Bill C-14, an assisted suicide and euthanasia law by any other name

Canadian Members of Parliament are set to vote on Bill C-14, also known as the Medical Assistance in Dying Bill. The bill will repeal numerous legal protections against assisted suicide and euthanasia in the Criminal Code, in line with 2012 Supreme Court of Britisch Columbia and  2015  Supreme Court of Canada decisions that found such protections unconstitutional. Notably, both Parliament and the courts have reversed course on previous decisions that upheld the constitutionality of those same legal protections under nearly identical circumstances.

Bill C-14 has been promoted by the federal government as taking a conservative approach, only allowing assistance in cases where “death is reasonably foreseeable” and implementing “safeguards” against abuse. However, as written it clearly contemplates broadly legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia, even for “mature minors” and those with mental illness.

Conspicuously absent from the debate has been any discussion about the experience with similar legislation in the United States and European Union, where both legal and medical reviews have been decidedly critical, second-guessing the wisdom of even having such legislation. That’s likely because the rationale for such laws, the topic to be covered here, is questionable at best.

Categories
Accountability Governance Population Privacy Transparency

The likely reason millions of Canadians have yet to complete 2016 census

The vast majority of Canadians were furious when, in the summer of 2010, the federal government of the day decided to exclude the long-form questionnaire from the 2011 census. They were enthusiastic to fill out their long-form census questionnaires. They had practically no security or privacy concerns.

At least that was the popular media narrative.

Only a few months later, Canadians handed the same government that made that seemingly fateful decision its first majority. Despite their supposed enthusiasm, one in three Canadian households opted not to complete the voluntary 2011 National Household Survey (68.6% unweighted response rate) – and that’s with Statscan spending tens of millions more on ‘follow-up’ and accepting forms with as few as 10 of 84 questions completed. As it turned out, security and privacy were the primary reasons prosecuted census refuseniks offered for their refusal to comply.

Categories
Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

A different approach to an Uber problem

It seems there’s no end to the Uber drama in Canada. Major urban centres across the country continue to debate how best to deal with the supposed ride-‘sharing’ service. Vancouver is leaning toward regulating the service, in a similar manner to taxis; Calgary’s already proceeded to do so. Montréal has banned the service until it can decide how to deal with it. Edmonton, Ottawa and now Toronto have passed bylaws to legalise the service, with conditions.

One possible approach that has received little consideration to date is co-optation. Given what appear to be the company’s future designs, that could prove a critical oversight.

Categories
Accountability Governance Population Transparency

With 2016 census ‘restored’, it feels like 2006 all over again

Statistics Canada started sending out its 2016 Census letters this week. Shortly after taking office, the recently elected federal government once again made it mandatory for survey respondents to complete the long form questionnaire, presumably restoring the census.

Contrary to promises it made last year while still sitting in opposition, the current federal government did not make any changes to the Statistics Act, which appears to have been last amended in 2005. That means  Statscan can, and, if history is anything to go by, will once again be threatening non-respondents with jail time. Effectively, the clock has been set back to May 2006, when the conditions were already in place for the eventual long form census cancellation.

Categories
Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

Why focus should be on mass transit instead of tolls to relieve traffic congestion, part two

Map 1 Usually take public transit to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_transit_Montreal
Map 2 Usually vehicle passenger to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_passenger_Montreal
Map 3 Usually drive vehicle to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_driver_Montreal

Source(s): 2006 Census (20% sample) topic-based tabulations

As previously discussed, variable-rate tolling as a means of moderating traffic congestion in Canada makes little sense. Unable to cite relevant research to support its “toll everything everywhere” proposal, the recent paper from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (CEC) instead turned to reviewing anecdotal evidence from the USA, Canada and Sweden.

Notably, the Canadian examples referenced were Toronto and Calgary. As previously mentioned, the CEC conceded Toronto’s 407 ETR did not work as intended. The Calgary example, along with one from San Francisco, of a variable-rate parking scheme, has neither proven effective nor popular. Another example, of a distance-traveled toll scheme in Oregon, likewise neither proven effective nor popular (and highlights an important privacy issue). 4 of the 6 anecdotes CEC could come up with were ineffective and unpopular.

Categories
Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

Why focus should be on mass transit instead of tolls to relieve traffic congestion, part one

MTO_401_Keele_1970_2005

It’s déjà vu all over again. By extolling the virtue of variable-rate tolls on all highways and bridges leading into major Canadian central business districts, the recent paper by Montréal’s latest conservative think tank, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (CEC), mimics the 2008 proposal by the even more conservative Montréal Economic Institute.

The latest proposal was dead on arrival. The recently elected Prime Minister of Canada had campaigned on a promise to scrap his predecessor’s toll plan for the new Champlain Bridge in Montréal. Québec’s Transport Minister, also the Minister responsible for the Montréal region, immediately scuttled the CEC proposal. In doing so, he succinctly made a point that all such proposals glance over: “What are we offering as an alternative?”

Categories
Employment Immigration Media Population Race and ethnicity

Why misleading, misinformed screeds calling for the elimination of race-based stats ought to be retired

Chart 1 Share of Canadian population reporting ‘Canadian’ ethnic origin vs share reporting* ‘visible minority’ status, by census year
Chart 1 Share of Canadian population reporting 'Canadian' ethnic origin vs share reporting 'visible minority' status, by census year

Source(s): Census of population public-use microdata files (PUMFs), Statistics Canada

The recent Canadian Economics Association (CEA) conference has been criticised for its lack of diversity, as have its precedents. It wasn’t clear at first why one particular economist was singled out for criticism. Apparently it had to do with an article  this economist, an older white female, wrote a couple years ago calling for the elimination of “visible minority” status from employment equity and, along with it, the race question altogether from the Canadian census. She argued race is an arbitrary, antiquated and irrelevant concept. That her screed was poorly written and argued is understandable, albeit unfortunate, given it’s not her area of expertise (‘feminomics’). That the same economist is supposedly set to chair the 2017 CEA conference is a legitimate concern.

Categories
Employment Population Social security

Sub-1% employment growth the new norm, plus a look at demographic projections

Chart 1 Population and employment estimates and projections 1976-2050
Chart 1 Population and employment estimates and projections 1976-2050
Source(s): Statistics Canada and Finance Canada estimates and projections

As noted in a previous  post (see Family Tax Cut), the impact the demographic shift will have on labour supply is likely overstated. Its ill-advised use of Kijiji data aside, the Finance Canada Jobs Report published last February included labour market projections. 2014 was projected to be the last year with employment growth of 1.0 percent or higher, and the binding constraint on future growth was projected to be labour supply. The first projection missed out of the gate, and the limited data available suggests the second may not prove any more reliable.

Categories
Environment Population Transportation

Canada’s (somewhat less) vast emptiness

In Canada, a lack of population doesn’t necessarily translate to a lack of roadway…

Canada_2011_RN

… as demonstrated by the Canadian road network map above.

A lot of Canada’s dirt-based wealth can’t be immediately transported via pipeline and/or rail. The remarkable expanse of road infrastructure through the northern Prairies and into the Territories (and, to a lesser extent, northern Ontario and Quebec) – from which a great deal of that wealth is extracted, but where hardly any Canadians reside – speaks to that.

That being said, Canada’s still pretty empty. Few today would choose to live much further north, given Canada’s bitterly cold northern climate. That climate also limits Canada’s dirt-based wealth potential, making it difficult to grow things in and/or dig thing out of all that land up there.

Climate change may ‘fix’ that in the foreseeable future, however. As one of our favourite Econ profs once not-so-jokingly put it (off-the-record): Canada has the most to ‘gain’ from global warming – which goes a long way to explaining its environmental policy, or lack thereof…