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In response to comments generated via “Random thoughts from Toronto”

A couple of days ago, we uploaded a post titled Random thoughts from Toronto, thinking that it was going to be a one and done. But seeing that there were so many comments generated by the post, Kevin H. (a Torontonian who originally got the conversation started) decided to answer some of the thoughts/questions/concerns that ensued in the comment section. Here’s what he had to say:

While I’m certainly no expert on Buffalo (from Toronto), I find it hard to believe that Buffalo is suffering from ‘liberals’. That isn’t a political position on my part, I have no skin in your game; but it just doesn’t make sense on the face of it.

So let’s take Family Leave which is mentioned as a hardship.  Yet the new New York legislation on this mandates a whole whopping 12 weeks. In Toronto, Canadian law mandates 15 weeks of maternity leave, followed by 40 weeks of parental leave, or 55 weeks total (extendable to 74 weeks at a reduced rate). That’s more than 4x as much. Somehow, Toronto seems to be doing fine. As are a host of other US locales who have had parental/family leave for some time, and cover as many or more weeks at similar or greater rates.

You can agree or disagree with family leave.  I take no issue here with anyone’s preference; but you can’t argue with a straight-face that its a serious impediment to business, when clearly, it is not. Excuses like that are typically offered by poorly run businesses with owners unwilling to invest in productivity be it through training or automation.

On Minimum wage, Toronto’s is comparable after factoring in the exchange rate. Many U.S. jurisdictions have comparable or higher minimum wages, including Seattle at over $16USD Meanwhile, New York State doesn’t mandate a single day of paid vacation. In Ontario, 2 weeks is the law from year one, and 3 weeks after 5 years; while the entire E-U, Australia, and NZ all manage 4 weeks or more.

Again, not a real issue. A red herring.

If you want to go after education, that may be fair. Again, I’m no expert on Buffalo’s education system. But here’s something I can point out… one of the top ranked education systems on the planet, perpetually top 10, is Ontario, right next door. I dunno, maybe somebody could look at what we do here, and steal a couple of good ideas? Lest anyone think I’m making that up, btw, here are the PISA results, with Canadian provinces broken into them as if they were countries. Following is the top of the chart from page 14 of the above report, concerning reading skills. China is ranked #1, Ontario #6, U.S.A. #13

In respect of post-secondary, Buffalo has good institutions; the issue is only the rate of uptake of post-secondary in the general population.

In the Buffalo CSA, the population with a Bachelor’s degree or higher is 30%, while in the Toronto CSA its 41% – hardly a mountainous difference. Similarly in High School education the difference is not such a challenge to bridge – 83% Buffalo, 89% Toronto. (same links as above)

That can be addressed, if its a priority. That will cost more money, in taxes, of course.

Of note, in-state under-grad tuition at University at Buffalo is $7,100 USD or so while the University of Toronto is $4,583USD for a domestic student. ($6,100CAD)

On the subject of taxes:

Ontario, your booming neighbour has a 13% sales tax; corporate taxes that are roughly similar, income tax is a fraction higher, (will vary by situation and income level); though we do have higher gas taxes, and a carbon tax.

None of that has seriously impeded growth.

That’s because we’re not way higher in tax burden than most other places, and the extra we charge works for business.    Business in Ontario need not provide health insurance, since the government does; though may provide cheaper supplementary coverage for drugs/dental etc.

This is not a case of Canada is better by the way. Buffalo is free to determine its own course; and there are many different paths to success.

That said, I find it a tired trope that American’s have a high tax burden (you don’t) and that employment standards are excessive, when they are among the lowest in the world.

Overall US taxes as a percentage of GDP – 24%, vs Canada 33%, and the average of all OECD (developed countries) at 34.3%.

Lead image: Photo by Tim Gouw, previously published on uk.edubirdie

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