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Nick Falvo

Nick Falvo

Director of Research & Data, Calgary Homeless Foundation. Economist. Research Associate, Carleton University Centre for Community Innovation. Tweets are my own.

Articles by Nick Falvo

Ten things to know about the 2019-20 Alberta budget

November 4, 2019

I’ve just written a ‘top 10’ overview of the recent Alberta budget. Points raised in the post include the following:

-The budget lays out a four-year strategy of spending cuts, letting population growth and inflation do much of the heavy lifting.

-After one accounts for both population growth and inflation, annual provincial spending in Alberta by 2022 is projected to be 16.2% lower than it was last year.

-Alberta remains Canada’s lowest-taxed province. It also remains the only province without a provincial sales tax.

The full blog post can be read here.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.

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Ten things to know about poverty measurement in Canada

October 31, 2019

I’ve written a blog post providing an overview of poverty measurement in Canada. Points raised in the post include the following:

-One’s choice of poverty measure has a major impact on whether poverty is seen to be increasing or decreasing over time.

-Canada’s federal government recently chose the make the Market Basket Measure (MBM) its official poverty measure.

-According to the MBM, Canada has seen a major decrease in poverty over the past decade.

-Also according to the MBM, there is very little seniors’ poverty in Canada.

-The debate about poverty measurement in Canada has largely ignored the concept of asset poverty.

The link to the blog post is here.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.

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Ending homelessness in St. John’s: Ten things to know

October 17, 2019

I’m co-author of a recent blog post about the fight to end homelessness in St. John’s (Newfoundland and Labrador).

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-Recent increases in federal funding for homelessness have made a very important difference to St. John’s homeless-serving sector. I’m referring here to increases brought in by the Trudeau government.

-The corrections sector in Newfoundland and Labrador contributes to the homelessness problem in St. John’s (we elaborate in the blog post).

-Service providers in St. John’s are having major challenges with software that tracks persons experiencing homelessness.

-Local stakeholders have expressed a strong desire to strengthen the local triage system used to refer people to housing and

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The use of homeless shelters by Indigenous peoples in Canada

October 4, 2019

I’ve written a blog post about the use of homeless shelters by Indigenous peoples in Canada. The post is inspired by recently-accessed, internal analysis done by staff at Employment and Social Development Canada.

One point raised in the blog post is that there is no clear indication from the presentation of the analysis that Indigenous peoples or groups were engaged in any way in the analysis (aside from the fact that their data was used). Another is that Toronto had to be omitted from the analysis because the City of Toronto lacks Indigenous identity data on persons who use the city’s homeless shelters.

The blog post can be accessed here.
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Trudeau’s proposed speculation tax

September 26, 2019

Posted by Nick Falvo under BC, bubble, cities, economic thought, foreign investment/ownership, globalization, housing, inequality, interest rates, investment, Liberal Party policy, monetary policy, municipalities, Ontario, party politics, prices, private equity, regulation, Role of government, taxation, Toronto, wealth.
September 25th, 2019Comments: none

I’ve written a blog post about the Trudeau Liberals’ recently-proposed speculation tax on residential real estate owned by non-resident, non-Canadians.

The full blog post can be accessed here.
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Related articles

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My review of Eric Weissman’s book on intentional homeless communities

July 20, 2019

I’ve just reviewed Eric Weissman’s book on intentional homeless communities. Points made in the review include the following:

-Intentional communities in general are communities built around specific goals. But in the case of this book, I mean small communities of housing sometimes made from discarded, donated and recycled material, and sometimes purpose-built, to address homelessness.

-Intentional communities are not the same thing as tent cities or tiny home communities. The former tend to have rather sophisticated governance structures, and often have legal status.

The link to my review is here.

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Alberta must find alternatives to cutting social spending

July 4, 2019

I have an opinion piece in today’s Edmonton Journal about Alberta’s current fiscal situation.

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-The Jason Kenney government will almost certainly announce cuts to social spending in the near future.

-Yet, more than 80% of Alberta’s kindergarten through Grade 3 classes currently exceed the provincial government’s own class-size targets.

-Tuition fees as a share of university operating revenue have roughly tripled in Alberta over the last 30 years.

-Social assistance (i.e., welfare) caseloads have risen substantially in Alberta since the start of the economic downturn.

-Alberta still has, by far, the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any Canadian province.

-Albertans are also taxed less than any residents of any other

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Ten things to know about affordable housing in Alberta

July 1, 2019

I’ve just written a ‘top 10’ overview blog post about affordable housing in Alberta. Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-On a per capita basis, Alberta has far fewer subsidized housing units than the rest of Canada

-Some Alberta cities have much more low-cost rental housing (per capita) than others.

-Going forward, the impact of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy will be modest.

-There are considerable cost savings to be realized when investing in affordable housing, especially when the tenants have serious mental health challenges.

The link to the full blog post is here.
Enjoy and share:

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Ten things to know about this year’s Alberta Alternative Budget

June 25, 2019

Posted by Nick Falvo under aboriginal peoples, Alberta, budgets, Child Care, demographics, early learning, economic growth, education, employment, employment standards, fiscal policy, health care, homeless, housing, HST, income distribution, income support, Indigenous people, inequality, labour market, macroeconomics, minimum wage, NDP, population aging, post-secondary education, poverty, privatization, progressive economic strategies, public infrastructure, public services, Regulations, Role of government, seniors, social policy, taxation, training, unemployment, user fees, women.
June 24th, 2019Comments: none

The Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) is an annual exercise whose working group consists of researchers, economists, and members of civil society (full disclosure: I’m

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MEDIA RELEASE: Alberta should increase social spending; cuts are not the way to go

June 24, 2019

(June 24, 2019-Calgary) With Alberta’s economy still facing challenges and vulnerabilities, the Alberta government should not be doling out tax cuts or cutting social spending, according to the Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) released today.

“Alberta still has, by far, the lowest
debt-to-GDP ratio of any province,” says Nick Falvo, editor of the report. “We
are in a good position to increase spending on education, invest in affordable
child care, offer free dental care to Albertans under 18 years, and support
other programs that would help Albertans facing unpredictability in the job
market.”

The AAB is an annual exercise whose working
group consists of researchers, economists, and members of civil society. The
AAB  aims to create a progressive vision
for Alberta to boost

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Homelessness, harm reduction and Housing First

May 21, 2019

I was recently invited to give a presentation at a two-day event discussing the overdose crisis and First Nations, with a focus on southern Alberta. My presentation focused on homelessness, substance use, harm reduction and Housing First.

To read the blog post synthesizing my presentation’s key points, click on this link.
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What Impact will the 2019 Federal Budget have on Canada’s Housing Market?

April 25, 2019

I’ve written a blog post about what the recent federal budget means for Canada’s housing market.

Points I make in the blog post include the following:

-The budget contains several initiatives designed to make it easier for households of modest means to become homeowners.

-Such initiatives are often framed as being win-win propositions, while their unintended consequences are rarely discussed.

The link to the full blog post is here.
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Low taxes are nothing to brag about

April 11, 2019

I’ve written an opinion piece that appears in today’s Regina Leader-Post. The piece argues that the Saskatchewan government shouldn’t brag about the province’s low-tax climate (which it recently did). Rather, I argue that taxes serve important functions.

The link to the opinion piece is here.
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An update on Canada’s National Housing Strategy

January 12, 2019

Steve Pomeroy, arguably Canada’s top affordable housing policy expert, has written a status update on Canada’s National Housing Strategy (NHS). His overview includes some great background material on Canadian housing policy generally.

Points raised in his analysis include the following:

-The Trudeau government’s much-anticipated NHS was unveiled in November 2017.

-In most provinces and territories, federal funding accounts for less than 10% of homelessness funding. Provincial, territorial and municipal orders of government fund most of the rest. Yet, just 5% of new funding under the NHS has been earmarked towards the Trudeau government’s goal of reducing chronic homelessness by half.

-Our federal government is good at funding/financing affordable housing; provincial/territorial

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Supportive housing for persons with serious mental health challenges

December 23, 2018

I’ve recently written a ‘top 10’ review of a new book on supportive housing—i.e., subsidized housing with social work support—for persons with serious mental health challenges. The book’s an anthology that was edited by three Ontario-based researchers.
A key questions that emerges in the book is: Should such housing be owned and operated by for-profit providers, or by non-profit providers? An advantage of non-profit ownership, in my opinion, is that a non-profit entity eventually owns the asset.
My full review can be found here.
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Ten considerations for the next Alberta budget

December 8, 2018

Over at the Behind The Numbers website, I’ve written a blog post titled “Ten considerations for the next Alberta budget.” The blog post is a summary of a recent workshop organized by the Alberta Alternative Budget Working Group.
The link to the blog post is here.
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When tenants ‘graduate’ from Housing First programs

September 7, 2018

Over at the Research Blog of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a ‘top 10’ overview of a study on which I’m co-author. It essentially asks the question: “When homeless people are placed into subsidized housing with social work support, for how many months/years do they require that social work support?”
The study relies on an impressive data set about ex-homeless people who’ve been placed into subsidized housing with social work support in Calgary. Methodologically, the study uses survival analysis and hazard models.
The blog post can be accessed here.
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Carey Doberstein’s book on homelessness governance

June 7, 2018

I’ve just reviewed Professor Carey Doberstein’s book on homelessness governance (UBC Press). The book looks at the way decisions are made pertaining to funding for homelessness programs in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto during the 1995-2015 period.
Points raised in my review include the following:
-Homelessness trends look quite different across the three cities. For example, it can be growing in one city, but declining in another.
-One of the book’s main arguments is that better decisions pertaining to homelessness programming are made when multiple stakeholders are engaged in decision-making early and often.
-The book argues that Vancouver and Calgary have done a relatively good job of such engagement—more so than Toronto.
My full review can be read here.
(A modified version of this

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Saskatchewan budget misses opportunity on rental housing assistance

May 2, 2018

I recently wrote a ‘top 10’ overview blog post about the 2018 Saskatchewan budget. Following on the heels of that, I’ve now written an opinion piece about the budget’s announcement of a phase out a rental assistance program for low-income households.
Points raised in the opinion piece include the following:
-Across Saskatchewan, rental vacancy rates are unusually high right now, making this a good time to provide rental assistance to tenants for use in private units (indeed, right now it’s a so-called renter’s market in Saskatchewan, meaning it’s a relatively good time for tenants to negotiate rental agreements with private landlords).
-Thus, rather than phasing out the program, it would have been sensible to have expanded it.
-Phasing it out will very possibly lead to more homelessness,

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Ten things to know about the 2018 Saskatchewan budget

April 20, 2018

I’ve written a ‘top 10’ blog post about the recently-tabled Saskatchewan budget. Points raised in the blog post include the following:
-This year’s budget was quite status quo.
-Last year’s budget, by contrast, included a series of cuts to social spending. Last year’s budget also announced cuts to both personal and corporate income taxes that were subsequently reversed.
-Saskatchewan has one of the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios in Canada.
-This recent budget announced the phase out of a rent supplement program that helps low-income households afford rent on the private market.
Here’s the link to the full blog post.
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Newly-signed FPT housing framework agreement

April 12, 2018

I’ve just written a blog post about the newly-signed federal-provincial-territorial housing framework agreement. This agreement builds on (and helps move forward) Canada’s National Housing Strategy, which was released last fall.
One of the points made in the blog post is that the federal government’s stated objective of removing approximately half-a-million households from core housing need is very ambitious, in light of what we know about the Strategy.
The link to the full blog post is here.
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Five things to know about the 2018 Alberta budget

March 26, 2018

On March 22, the NDP government of Rachel Notley tabled the 2018 Alberta budget. I’ve written a blog post discussing some of the major ‘take aways’ from the standpoint of Calgary’s homeless-serving sector (where I work).
Points made in the blog post include the following:  this was very much a status quo budget; Alberta remains the lowest-taxed province in Canada (and still the only province without a sales tax); Alberta still has (by far) the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio of any province; and it’s been six years since social assistance recipients in the province have seen an adjustment in their benefit levels (to reflect inflation, for example).
The full blog post can be read at this link.
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Ten proposals from the 2018 Alberta Alternative Budget

March 21, 2018

Posted by Nick Falvo under aboriginal peoples, Alberta, budgets, Child Care, education, fiscal policy, homeless, housing, HST, income, income support, income tax, Indigenous people, inequality, labour market, macroeconomics, NDP, poverty, progressive economic strategies, public infrastructure, public sector procurement, public services, seniors, small business, social policy, student debt, taxation, user fees, women, workplace benefits.
March 21st, 2018Comments: none

The 2018 Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) was released yesterday—it can be downloaded here. An opinion piece I wrote about the AAB appeared yesterday in both the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal.
Inspired by the Alternative Federal Budget exercise, this year’s AAB was drafted by a working group consisting of

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Media release: Alberta needs a provincial sales tax

March 20, 2018

(March 20, 2018-Edmonton) Today, a coalition of researchers, economists, and members of civil society released an alternative budget to boost Alberta’s economic growth while reducing income inequality.
“Alberta is on the road to recovery after a deep recession,” said economist Nick Falvo, “now is not the time to reverse the course.”
The document, High Stakes, Clear Choices, sets a progressive vision encouraging public investment to stabilize tough economic times, reduce poverty, support our seniors, and create good jobs.
The report reveals that, since taking office in 2015, the Notley government took important measures to support poverty reduction. These include: introducing the Alberta Child Benefit; the near doubling of annual spending on housing; and, increasing minimum wage.
The

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Homelessness and employment: The case of Calgary

March 17, 2018

I’ve just written a blog post about homelessness and employment, with a focus on Calgary (where I live and work).
Points raised in the blog post include the following:
-Persons experiencing homelessness usually have poor health outcomes, making it especially challenging to find and sustain employment.
-There are several non-profits in Calgary that assist persons experiencing homelessness to find and sustain work.
-Persons finding the most success in those programs tend to be relatively healthy (compared with their peers) and be between the ages of 25 and 60.
-In some cases, persons experiencing homelessness are overqualified for jobs.
-There is some evidence that subsidized housing can improve employment outcomes.
The link to the full blog post is here.
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Five Things to Know About the 2018 Federal Budget

March 2, 2018

I’ve written a blog post about the 2018 federal budget.
Points made in the blog post include the following:
-Important new housing investments were made for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
-The Working Income Tax Benefit was expanded, made automatic and rebranded (i.e., renamed).
-Canada’s official unemployment is now the lowest it’s been in decades.
-Canada’s federal debt-to-GDP ratio is (by far) the lowest of any G7 country.
The link to the full blog post is here.
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Ten proposals from the 2018 Alternative Federal Budget

February 24, 2018

I’ve written a blog post about this year’s Alternative Federal Budget (AFB).
Points raised in the blog post include the following:
-This year’s AFB would create 470,000 (full-time equivalent) jobs in its first year alone. By year 2 of the plan, 600,000 new (full-time equivalent) jobs will exist.
-This year’s AFB will also bring in universal pharmacare, address involuntary part-time employment among women, eliminate tuition fees for all post-secondary students in Canada, speed up implementation of the federal carbon tax, and increase the corporate tax rate from 15% to 21%.
-I’m particularly intrigued by the AFB’s poverty reduction measures, which include a sizeable top-up to the GST rebate, a $4 billion annual transfer to the provinces and territories, increases to seniors’ benefits, and

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Homelessness in BC

February 19, 2018

In anticipation of tomorrow’s provincial budget in British Columbia (BC), I’ve written a blog post about the state of homelessness in that province.
Points raised in the blog post include the following:
-Public operating spending by BC’s provincial government has decreased over the past 20 years.
-Even after controlling for inflation, average rent levels across the province increased by 24% between 1990 and 2016.
-Over the past several decades, various reforms to BC’s social assistance system have made it harder to qualify for benefits and have resulted in lower benefit levels to those who are eligible.
-A lack of affordable housing is making it very challenging for front-line practitioners to practice the ‘housing first’ approach (i.e., providing a homeless person with immediate access

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Panel discussion at federal NDP policy convention

February 18, 2018

Yesterday I spoke on a panel discussion on economic inequality, along with Andrew Jackson and Armine Yalnizyan. We were guests at the federal NDP’s policy convention in Ottawa. The panel was moderated by Guy Caron.
Topics covered included the minimum wage, basic income, affordable housing, the future of jobs, gender budgeting, poverty among seniors, Canadian fiscal policy in historical perspective, and Canadian fiscal policy in comparison with other OECD countries.
The discussion was 30 minutes long. You can watch it here.
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Canada’s newly-unveiled National Housing Strategy

December 1, 2017

Over at the website of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve  written a blog post about the Trudeau government’s recently-unveiled National Housing Strategy.
Points raised in the post include the following:
-One of the Strategy’s stated objectives is to reduce chronic homelessness in Canada by 50% over 10 years.
-The Trudeau government claims that this is Canada’s “first ever” national housing strategy. That claim may not be accurate.
-The Trudeau government appears to be overstating the likely impact of the Strategy. Specifically, they claim this will result in four times as many new builds (annually) going forward as were built annually between 2005 and 2015. Yet, the evidence does not appear to support that claim.
The link to the full blog post is here.
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