Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Canada's big cities headed for financial crisis

CFIB report demands an urgent conversation among local government leaders on overspending

VANCOUVER, May 29, 2013 /Canada NewsWir/ - With municipal leaders from across the country gathering in Vancouver later this week for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on them to take action on municipal overspending. CFIB today released a report showing that spending has grown more than three times the rate of population over the past 12 years in Canada's three largest cities - Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver - and in Canadian municipalities overall.

"Most of us can appreciate that the cost of running our cities must keep pace with population growth, and factor in the cost of inflation," says CFIB executive vice president Laura Jones. "But our research shows spending is increasing by as much as three to eight times the rate of population growth in Canada's largest cities. Municipal officials claim they lack sufficient revenue, and argue that cities need even more revenue and increased taxing authority. Our report shows the real problem is overspending."

This spending problem is not just confined to Canada's largest cities. From 2000 to 2011, inflation-adjusted spending grew by 55 per cent in all Canadian municipalities while population only grew by 12 per cent. The increases in spending are largely driven by public sector wages and benefits which consume between 52 to 67 per cent of local government operating spending in the three big cities.

"From 2000 to 2011, city staff in all Canadian municipalities increased by 25 per cent, more than double population growth," says Mike Klassen, CFIB BC director of provincial affairs. "Combine that with wages and benefit packages that are more than one-third higher than comparable occupations in the private sector, and you can begin to understand the causes of overspending by our cities. It adds up to a cost of over $10,000 per Canadian family of four during the same period."

"It's time that we changed the conversation to move away from the persistent requests for new tax revenues from our local governments to one that addresses spending challenges—responsible policy-making depends on it," suggests Laura Jones. "CFIB hopes this report is a catalyst to start this critical conversation."

To read Big City Spenders report, please visit

CFIB is Canada's largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region of the country.

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Book CATALYST - A Collection of Commentaries to Get Us Talking

VANCOUVER, May 20, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - An awareness of the problems around us isn't enough.

Understanding the issues - how they connect and affect and ripple out to the edges of our lives - is the only hope for a better tomorrow. Catalyst: A Collection of Commentaries to Get Us Talking is a tool to encourage conversation about subjects that are sometimes hard to talk about.

Alex Sangha has produced a critical, yet positive, book that covers a range of table topics from environmental conservation to reconciling religion and sexuality, to depression and arranged marriage.

What sets Sangha apart is that he doesn't just want readers to agree blindly with everything he says; he encourages critical thinking and debate by posing a question at the end of each article.

Catalyst is a great conversation starter and social discussion book designed for the informed citizen, as well as for parents and teachers who want to get young adults thinking and talking about the world around them.

Catalyst is a companion to The Modern Thinker, Sangha's well-received book of 2011. All the articles in The Modern Thinker have been revised and 10 new articles have been added.

About the Author

Alex Sangha is an award-winning social worker and human rights activist who lives and works in the Metro Vancouver area of BC. Sangha has advocated for marginalized people including those with mental illness, South Asian immigrants, and gays and lesbians. Sangha is always interested in meeting new people, developing new friendships and relationships, and learning new things. He believes anyone can bring about social change and make a difference; all it takes is effort.