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Institute for Advanced Policy Research

Institute for Advanced Policy Research

The Institute for Advanced Policy Research (IAPR) is a public policy research institute created at the University of Calgary in 2004. In 2008, the IAPR became affiliated with the University’s School of Public Policy.  The IAPR's mandate within the School is to enhance the quality of public policy research on issues of social and economic policy. Please take time to learn about the Institute, its people, and its research by clicking on the red tabs above.  What follows are brief descriptions of research recently posted on our website.

What’s New?

The High Cost of Health

April 2009:  The long-term fiscal sustainability of Canada's publicly funded provincial health care systems is under pressure from an ageing population, expensive technological advances, and expanding coverage that is pushing up against provincial revenue constraints. In The Fiscal Sustainability of Alberta's Public Health Care System, Livio and Rosanna Di Matteo show that the public health care system will, by 2030, consume 32% to 86% of provincial revenues with the high end of this range consistent with projections based on current spending choices. The authors show that fiscal sustainability is not an issue for all components of the public health care system and suggest options for ensuring that current choices do not obligate future generations to impossible costs for maintaining a public health care system. This paper is a contribution to IAPR's research theme on Health Care Provision and Financing and is published as the third in The School of Public Policy Health Series of research papers.

Deja vu?

April 2009: The recent boom and bust in energy prices has its parallel in the boom and bust cycles of the 1970s and 1980s.  The earlier boom saw the Government of Alberta struggle with restraining spending and allowed itself to become heavily dependent on high energy prices. When in 1986 energy prices crashed the government suffered a string of deficits that was broken by a program of draconian spending cuts; cuts that closed hospitals, froze wages, and delayed much needed infrastructure investments. As it prepares its first budget since the 2008 crash in energy prices the government has an opportunity to learn from the past and to quickly and decisively put its finances on a path toward a much smaller reliance on energy revenues. But will the government take advantage of the lessons learned in the past?  These are the issues discussed by IAPR Fellow Herb Emery and IAPR Professor Ron Kneebone in their paper "Will it be Deja Vu all over Again?"

Municipal Election Finances

March 2009:  Businesses in Calgary are not allowed to contribute so much as a dollar to candidates running for federal office.  But the amount that businesses can give to candidates running for mayor or alderman in Calgary is unlimited.  Local candidates may spend as much or as little as they wish and any that is left over can be used for any purpose at all -- including simply going on vacation. There are no rules and no requirements that candidates tell citizens how the money is spent.  In Regulating Election Finances in Calgary's Municipal Elections, IAPR Fellow Lisa Young of the Department of Political Science describes and discusses the implication of this lack of rules and suggests ways in which the rules might be revised.  Young's note is a contribution to the School of Public Policy Communique series.

Generic Drug Pricing

February 2009: Canadians pay very high prices for generic drugs compared to international norms.  The reason is not inefficient or uncompetitive generic drug companies, but provincial government pricing and insurance policies that are distorting the market. In Generic Drug Pricing and Procurement: A Policy for Alberta, IAPR Fellow Aidan Hollis, an expert in the economics of pharmaceutical markets, evaluates provincial government policies regarding generic drugs and proposes a new approach which could save governments and private insurers tens of millions of dollars a year.  Hollis' paper is a contribution to IAPR's research theme on Health Care Provision and Financing and is published as the second in The School of Policy Studies Health Series of research papers.  Click here for a summary of the paper.

Indirect Network Effects and Adoption Technologies

January 2009:  "The iTunes App Store is iPhone's Killer App" and "How Apple's iPhone Reshaped the Industry" shout two recent headlines.  Earlier this year, those who had opted for HD DVD were stunned to find headlines proclaiming that Blu-Ray would be the standard.  The Blu-Ray and the IPhone cases highlight two features of consumer electronics: Consumption benefits arise from combining hardware with software and consumers value variety of software. A network externality arises if users of hardware benefit from the adoption by others of compatible hardware because it induces an increase in the availability of software varieties. If adopters do not account for this external benefit when making their adoption decisions this leads to under-adoption and can, in the most extreme case, result in standardization on an inferior technology.  In "Indirect Network Effects and Adoption Externalities" IAPR Professor Jeffrey Church, IAPR Fellow David Krause and Neil Gandal examine the variety of ways that adoption externalities arise and by so doing so contribute to the debate involving the broader concern of the role of public policy in determining standards. 

The Regulation of Private Health Funding and Insurance

December 2008:  The range of options for provincial regulation of private funding and private insurance for health services under the Canada Health Act (CHA) is much wider than conventionally thought. Provinces tend to be considerably more restrictive than required by the CHA and existing legislation across provinces presents a wide and varied menu for reform in the funding of health services. In his paper "The Regulation of Private Health Funding and Insurance in Alberta under the Canada Health Act" IAPR Fellow Gerard Boychuk provides details on the range of options available to policymakers. He shows that other factors, including public opinion, appear to constrain reform more than the CHA. His paper considers these issues with a focus on Alberta; a province often seen to stand at the forefront of health care reform in Canada but one which in fact is more restrictive than other jurisdictions in what it will allow by way of private health funding and insurance. Boychuk's paper is a contribution to IAPR's research theme on Health Care Provision and Financing and is published as the first in The School of Policy Studies Health Series of research papers.  Click here for the press release and summary of the paper.

Vertical and Conglomerate Mergers

October 2008:    The prevention by the European Commission of the $42 billion acquisition by General Electric of Honeywell (two American companies), a transaction cleared by the U.S. antitrust authorities, ignited a firestorm.  The ensuing international acrimony highlighted the need for an assessment of what is known, and not known, about the potential for non-horizontal mergers to harm competition.  In a recently published three volume set published by the American Bar Association (Issues in Competition Law and Policy) IAPR Professor Jeffrey Church contributes two chapters which consider the economics and optimal enforcement policy for conglomerate and vertical mergers.  Click here and here to read his contributions to this important policy issue.

Biofuels, Blending Standards, and Shipping Costs

October 2008:  The use of biofuels for powering internal combustion engines is not a new idea. Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine in the 1880s, designed his first engine to run on biodiesel and envisioned his engine as much an instrument of agriculture policy as a means of transportation. More recently, many countries, and many jurisdictions within countries, have either mandated use of biofuels or provided tax or other incentives to encourage their production and use. To date, there has been little coordination with respect to setting uniform standards for producing or blending of ethanol and biodiesel with gasoline or diesel. As a result there is a wide range of ethanol blending standards that have been either mandated or proposed. In their paper "Biofuels, Petroleum Refining, and the Shipping of Motor Fuels", Frank Rusco and IAPR Fellow David Walls show that an unintended consequence of this lack of uniformity is the effect on the liquid fuels supply infrastructure. Higher production costs and a more balkanized market structure lead to unambiguously higher prices and a greater risk of local shortages and price spikes.

Drug Insurance Plans and Secret Rebates

June 2008:  British Columbia's provincial drug insurance plan, PharmaCare, has recently announced a novel mechanism to obtain price reductions for PharmaCare. It has instituted a sole-sourcing arrangement for a generically available drug in which a single firm is contracted to be the only listed supplier for all of BC. The single supplier may charge a high price but must pay a rebate to PharmaCare for every sale made which is fully or partly insured by PharmaCare. The rebate amount is confidential under the agreement.  In "The Use of Secret Rebates by Provincial Drug Insurance Agencies: What Impact on Patients?" IAPR Fellow Aidan Hollis assesses this mechanism.  Dr Hollis demonstrates that the mechanism results in substantially higher prices for consumers whose purchases are not 100% insured by PharmaCare and could ultimately undermine competition in generic drug markets. 

Markets or Regulators? 

April 2008: In a contribution to the IAPR's research on questions related to energy markets, Fellow David Walls offers a provocative survey of the evolution of public policy with respect to the governance of electricity and natural gas markets. In his paper "Natural Gas and Electricity Markets" Walls demonstrates how regulatory failures have left governments with little choice but to allow markets to play a more prominent role in allocating resources in energy markets. Professor Walls considers the relative merits of using market or regulatory mechanisms and assesses the effectiveness of the "new" energy markets. Professor Walls contrasts the limited role that regulation played in natural gas and the success of markets, with the relative lack of success, if not failure, associated with an increased reliance in using markets to govern electricity.  Professor Wall's research is a contribution to the IAPR's working group on Markets, Institutions, and Regulation.

Public Policy and Alberta's Electric System

March 2008:  Electric power producers in Alberta recently announced that over the next 10 years they will need to invest $15 billion to increase generating capacity by 40%.  Issues related to the preferred location of generating plants, the location of transmission lines, the potential for integrating alternative energy sources such as wind power, and the design of regulatory regimes all involve important questions of public policy.  In their paper "A Reduced Model of the Alberta Electric System for Policy, Regulatory and Future Development Studies," IAPR Fellows John MacCormack, Hamid Zareipour and Bill Rosehart, all of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, describe a model intended to provide a platform for a multi-disciplinary examination of public policy questions surrounding the design of Alberta's electrical grid.  This research is an initiative of IAPR's Markets, Institutions & Regulation working group whose members plan to use this model as a tool to better inform policies affecting Alberta's electric system.

New Research Theme on Health Care Provision and Finance

January 2008:  Few issues of public policy are of greater concern and more likely to spark heated debate than those with respect to health care. To help further and improve public policy debates on this important issue, the IAPR has established a new Research Theme on Health Care Provision and Finance. The Institute is in the process of approaching researchers to prepare in-depth examinations of key policy issues affecting health care provision and finance. The IAPR is grateful to the Alberta Ministry of Health & Wellness for generous financial support that will enable the production of six studies that will kick-off this research theme. We expect the first of these research monographs to be available for posting on the IAPR website by the summer of 2008.

Guarding Against Extremism in Public Policy

January 2008:  How effective are Courts, imbued with the responsibility of interpreting Bills of Rights, in protecting citizens from potential abuses from government or from other sources of extremism? In "Legislative vs. Judicial Checks and Balances: Comparing Rights Policies Across Regimes", IAPR Graduate Fellow Andrew Banfield and IAPR Fellow Rainer Knopff, both of the Department of Political Science, take advantage of the fact Canada and Australia have taken different tacks on the question of the role of the Courts in protecting rights to provide a comparison of policy choices in those two countries. The authors examine two case studies -- same-sex marriage and prisoner's voting rights -- to try to identify the relative effectivenss of legislative versus judicial approaches to protecting rights and guarding against extreme policy outcomes.

Domestic Violence Policy in Latin America

January 2008:  The development of public policy is constrained and guided by a great variety of factors; from bureaucratic capacity to budget constraints, to the establishment of political coalitions to advocate for change. These constraints typically differ by jurisdiction making analyses of policy formation using cross-country comparisons particularly useful and interesting. In her paper "The Politics of Domestic Violence Policy in Latin America," IAPR Fellow Susan Franceschet of the Department of Political Science highlights the implications for the design and implementation of domestic violence policies when state agencies are inefficient and suffer from coordination failures. Franceschet highlights the important role played by advocacy groups and suggests the empowerment of such groups is key for advancing public policies designed to protect women from domestic violence.

Influencing Public Policy

December 2007:  The most recent issue of the Journal of Labor Research contains four papers investigating the policy-making process in the context of labour relations. The papers review the entire policy-making process; from recognition of the problem, to framing it as an issue, to gathering resources to study it, to the section of policy choices, and finally to policy recommendations. Although specific to labour relations researchers and practitioners in all fields will appreciate the discussion of these issues. IAPR Professor Daphne Taras coordinated the production of these papers. Her introduction to the symposium, "Public Policy: Choice, Influence, Evaluation," provides a useful overview of each of the four papers and reminds academics that they operate in networks of influence in which their contributions can be advanced or derailed depending on conditions they do not often appreciate or cultivate.

Enemies of the State?

December 2007:  In the summer of 2007, Albertans were shocked by the revelation that the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board had employed private investigators to covertly observe landowners appearing as interveners in a hearing on the proposed construction of a transmission facility on their lands. This news created a media and public firestorm and compelled two separate inquiries. On September 30, 2020 the newly appointed Chairman of the AEUB responded to the crisis by vacating all Board decisions related to the transmission line. In her paper "Enemies of the State? The AEUB, Landowners, Spies, a 500kV Transmission Line and Why Procedures Matter", IAPR Fellow Alice Woolley, a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary, reviews this unfortunate incident in the otherwise respectable history of the AEUB. The paper attempts to delineate the nature of the Board's procedural wrongdoing so as to indicate how it and other regulators facing contentious hearings might avoid equivalent mistakes.

Deficit Elimination and Social Assistance

November 2007:  During the 1990s Canadian governments reacted to rapidly accumulating debts by cutting spending and balancing their budgets. This required that choices be made about where to seek cost savings. As well as imposing cuts to benefits, many governments introduced changes to the administrative procedures and practices for registering people for social assistance. This was particularly true in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. In "Fiscal Retrenchment and Social Assistance in Canada" IAPR Professor Ron Kneebone and Fellow Kate White identify the contributions of strong economic growth, cuts to benefits, and changes to administrative procedures in causing the dramatic fall in social assistance use in those provinces.

Improving Models of Spatial Economics

October 2007:  Where to locate a production facility is a decision dependent upon many considerations; the price of land, zoning restrictions, costs of transport, the heterogeneity of customers, distance to market, etcetera. This wide variety of considerations suggests the need for an integrated approach to analysis. In "Random Utility Simulations of Spatial Economics" IAPR Fellow John Abraham and IAPR Professor Doug Hunt review how economic theory, input-output models, and random utility theory have been woven together into spatial planning models. They describe planned research to fully integrate these approaches relying on techniques borrowed from models of biological systems. They also speculate that the adoption of evolutionary algorithms that embody learning might increase the value of these models as aids to policymaking.

A Triple Bottom Line Evaluation of the Property Tax

October 2007:  Rapid economic growth creates challenges for city planners. A growing population can affect neighbourhoods in detrimental ways, create new social problems, and stress infrastructure. An increasing number of cities have adopted a "triple bottom line" approach that obliges planners to take a broader perspective when evaluating the effects of public policies. In "Property Taxes and Triple Bottom Line Evaluation: A Review Essay," IAPR Fellow Jean-Francois Wen applies the TBL approach to examine the interactions between the design of the property tax and social and environmental concerns. He offers recommendations with respect to property tax relief for low-income seniors, development charges, and the use of differential property tax rates to influence urban densities. Wen's paper is a contribution to the IAPR's research theme on Urban Issues. Advice on mental health supports and therapies can be found from our friends at Your Next Journey. Find information on Das Parts by following the link provided.

Grandparenting Changes to Energy Royalties

September 2007:  The recently released Alberta Royalty Review has sparked a lot of heated debate. One issue that has been highlighted by industry and media commentators is the issue of "grandparenting."  This is the question of whether the government has the legal right to change the structure of the royalty regime without exempting existing projects.  In "Alberta's Royalty Review and the Law of Grandparenting" IAPR Fellow Nigel Bankes, a Professor in the Faculty of Law, reviews the law on this question and concludes that the royalty review panel has proposed nothing that violates existing contracts or is otherwise inappropriate or unusual.

Threats to Expropriate and Long-Term Economic Development

September, 2007:  Does economic development rest on a knife's edge, with ill-advised statements or short-lived public policies contributing to long-term failures? Are conditions for prosperity so fragile that small changes to public policy may produce large and permanent losses? As Alberta questions its energy royalty regime and as Newfoundland pushes for equity stakes in energy projects, interesting questions arise about the long-term consequences of energy policy choices. IAPR Fellow Herb Emery and Graduate Fellow Jen Winter investigate these issues in the context of the energy policies of the CCF government of Saskatchewan during the period 1944-64. In "Estimating the Credibility of the CCF's Threates to Nationalize Oil Resources in Saskatchewan" the authors examine the long-term impact of a threat first made in 1944. Contrary to perceived wisdom they present evidence suggesting the threat was not deemed credible by the oil industry and suggest, therefore, that it had little impact on the province's economic development.

Biology, the Courts, and Aboriginal Rights

September, 2007:  Effective wildlife management requires the conjunction of science and policy. Disjunctions can arise when courts make policy because since and the judicial process operate along very different tracks. In "Wildlife Management and Aboriginal Rights" political scientist and IAPR Fellow Rainer Knopff and Kyle Knopff of the Department of Biological Science at the University of Alberta argue that the Supreme Court's jurisprudence on aboriginal hunting and fishing rights is out of step with modern science to the extent that it 1) wrongly assumes that subsistence predation is benign, 2) employs assumptions about the ability of Aboriginal communities to self-regulate in situations that may be inappropriate, and 3) uses political rather than ecological scales to apply Aboriginal exemptions from hunting and fishing regulations. Fortunately, say the authors, the Court's jurisprudence leaves room for the necessary policy refinement; an "ecologically scaled biomass approach" to Aboriginal exemption rights.

Mad Cows and Meat Packers

June 2007:  In May 2003, due to the discovery of BSE in a single animal in Alberta, the market for fed cattle in the province changed with the closing of the Canada/US border.  In their paper "Market Power in the Alberta Red Meat Packing Industry", IAPR Professor Jeffrey Church and Daniel Gordon investigate the implication of the border closing for the market for fed cattle in Alberta.  Their results show that prior to the BSE crisis, competition from US packers eliminated or minimized the market power of the small number of packers in Alberta, and feedlot operators enjoyed the benefits of a competitive market for meat packing.  Post-BSE, however, Alberta packers were able to exercise significant market power implying a reduction in the prices for fed cattle beyond what would be expected from the loss of a major export market.  The estimates are not, however, consistent with the coordinated exercise of market power by packers.

Providing Prizes for Drug Innovations

June 2007:  There is growing interest in the use of prizes as an incentive mechanism for innovation, especially in pharmaceutical markets.  In his paper "Incentive Mechanisms for Innovation", IAPR Fellow Aidan Hollis examines how prizes based on outcomes could interact with the patent system.  He shows that an optional reward system offers a number of advantages.  It increases the potential profits to be earned for innovations of great social value which are not otherwise profitable given the structure of the patent system; it is efficient in terms of the incentives created, and it limits the informational burden on the rewards administrator.  The optional reward system uses a market mechanism to ensure that the rewards are appropriate to the size of the social value created by the innovation.

Optimism vs. Pessimism

May 2007:  Does it matter if one is a pessimist or an optimist?  In their paper "Cognitive Dissonance, Pessimism, and Behavioral Effects", David Dickinson and IAPR Fellow Robert Oxoby show that the answer is yes.  In laboratory experiments they show that the random assignment of low versus high piece-work wages generates pessimistic and optimistic beliefs, respectively, in those participating.  What's more, having been imbued with those beliefs they are shown to affect how subjects make other unrelated choices.  An implication is that one's sense of optimism may be endogenous to ones circumstances and may play a causal role in many life choices; work absenteeism, marital well-being, charitable giving, and any choice that depends on judgement.

Regulating Private Pension Plans

May 2007:  IAPR Fellow Norma Nielson and David Chan, both of the Haskayne School of Business, have recently published a research paper which shows that the regulatory environment for private pension plans in Ontario is significantly different from that in the rest of Canada.  The Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund has resulted in pensions plans in Ontario exhibiting a lower degree of funding per participant suggesting that the government guarantee is related to a moral hazard problem in Ontario pension financing.  The paper, "Private Pensions and Government Guarantees: Clues from Canada", appears in the March 2007 issue of the Journal of Pension Economics and Finance.

A Race to the Bottom?

March 2007: In their desire to attract industry do governments race against one another to cut tax rates to such low levels that they find it difficult to finance social programs? Concern over this possibility is behind discussions amongst some members of the European Union to limit tax competition. Those critical of Canada’s adoption of free trade arrangements have similarly suggested that Canadian social programs are at risk as tax rates are forced downward in an international “race to the bottom”. Finally, some provincial governments have expressed concern that ’s resource wealth will enable it to lower tax rates and so force others to follow suit or risk losing industry to that province. But what is the evidence? In “An Empirical Investigation of Tax Competition between Canadian Provinces”, IAPR Graduate Fellow Daria Crisan employs a unique data set describing effective tax rates on 21 manufacturing industries in 6 Canadian provinces over the period 1970-1997. She finds little evidence to support the hypothesis that governments engage in a race to the bottom in tax rates. Crisan’s analysis shows that if competition exists across provincial governments it is such to have caused increases in tax rates to be smaller than might otherwise have been realized. This would suggest that if social programs are under threat, it is not because of tax competition.

Public Participation and Public Policy

March 2007: Elections are blunt instruments for allowing citizens to express their preferences for public policy. One may prefer Candidate A for her stand on education but prefer Candidate B for his stand on transportation. In an election, one can vote for only one candidate and so one must make a decision regarding which policy issue is most important. To circumvent this problem, governments sometimes offer public forums as a way of soliciting the preferences of citizens on specific issues and using them as a way of building consensus on what is the preferred public policy. In "A Tale of Two Cities: Public Participation Processes in Banff and Calgary", Christopher Bruce compares the design of two local consensus-building exercises -- the Banff Bow Valley Study (completed in 1996) and the City of Calgary's more recent imagineCalgary (completed in 2006) -- and offers recommendations for how public participation processes might be most effectively designed to improve public policy outcomes.

Transportation Research at IAPR

February 2007: People face a myriad of choices when they step out their front doors: Whether going to work, or to school, or just out for shopping or for fun, people have to select the route they take, what time they depart, whether they take a bus, train, bike, or drive, etcetera. These are all choices that help determine (and are in turn determined by) policy choices with respect to road design, transit fares, fuel taxes, and parking levies. Policy choices and the response to them also impact upon the environment as transportation is widely identified as a key source of greenhouse gases. The study of public policy choices with respect to transportation is the bailiwick of IAPR Professor JD (Doug) Hunt of the Department of Civil Engineering. The breadth and high level of sophistication of research in this area is illustrated in three recent papers Doug and his co-authors have posted on the IAPR web site. "Enhancing Policy Decisions Using Integrated Models" explores the use of so-called integrated models of transportation; models which illustrate the interrelationships between transportation choice, land use, and economic activity. "Levels of Disaggregation and Degrees of Aggregate Constraint in Transportation System Modeling" considers and evaluates alternative modeling approaches to transportation systems. Finally, "An Examination of Bicycle Use Sensitivities over Time" employees a survey approach to ascertain the determinants of bicycle use and what features of urban design might best encourage their use.

Unions, Bicycles, and Gasoline

January 2007: Reflecting the diverse interests of IAPR researchers as well as the wide range of issues and problems to which public policy decisions must be brought to bear, the IAPR has posted three new technical papers on a wide range of topics. In "Reconciling Differences Differently", IAPR Professor Daphne Taras investigates the implications of the diminution of union power for the role played by labour standards in protecting the interests of workers. In their paper "Federal Environmental Standards, Regional Fuel Choices, and Local Gasoline Prices" IAPR Fellow David Walls and Frank Rusco of the U.S. Government Accounting Office measure how a policy-induced proliferation of motor fuel types has impacted gasoline prices and supplies in local markets. Finally, IAPR Professor Doug Hunt and David Walls co-author a note titled "Robust Analysis of Discrete Choice in Transport with an Application to Alberta Cyclists" which examines the routes chosen by bicyclists as a way of testing a new approach to modelling discrete choice models. Main concerns are regarding safety. The Resurfacer Barn Painting are proud sponsors and we thank them for their support!

The Politics of Cabinet Selection

December 2006: In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made two highly visible moves to include representation from major cities in his new cabinet. In appointing Michael Fortier he provided representation for Montreal, where the Conservatives had gained no seats in the House of Commons. In enticing Liberal David Emerson to cross the floor and join the cabinet, he did the same for downtown Vancouver. Is this a new sensitivity to cities? In "City Ministers: The Local Politics of Cabinet Selection", IAPR Fellow Anthony Sayers shows that cities have long been over-represented in cabinet and suggests that if they are getting a poor deal in terms of policy, under-representation is not the cause. He also finds distinctive patterns in the city-ness of federal cabinets and discusses the implications for federal policies.

Grading Standards

November, 2006: University researchers play an important role in training future generations of scholars, scientists, artists, and -- particularly important from the point of view of the IAPR -- policy-makers. Grades are the signal we use to encourage students to specialize in one discipline versus another and to pursue one career or another. But what if the signals we give are wrong or misleading? Mukesh Eswaran of the University of British Columbia and IAPR Fellow Curtis Eaton have posted a paper "Differential Grading Standards and Student Incentives" in which they investigate that possibility. They show that grading standards differ significantly across disciplines and this may cause students to choose programs of study that do not maximize their potential. Eswaran and Eaton suggest some non-intrusive ways to rectify the problem.

Conference on Energy Security

November, 2006:  The IAPR was a sponsor of the 2006 Canada-UK Colloquium held at . Representatives of government, academia, and industry, from both and the , met to discuss issues pertaining to the security of energy supply, the environmental impacts of energy production and consumption, and policies to promote energy conservation. Support for the conference is part of the Institute’s interest in issues to do with resources and the environment. To view IAPR Technical Papers written on this topic look under the Resources and the Environment Research Theme.

Time for the City of Calgary to Sell ENMAX Energy Corporation?

November, 2006: Dr Aidan Hollis, a Fellow of the IAPR, has posted an IAPR Technical Paper which examines the City of Calgary's ownership of ENMAX Energy Corporation (EEC). "The City of Calgary's Ownership of ENMAX Energy Corporation: Value at Risk" shows that EEC, a subsidiary of ENMAX, which is wholly owned by the City of Calgary, poses tremendous risks to the citizens of Calgary through its participation in the energy supply business. The study quantifies the risks, and examines other aspects of ENMAX Energy's business, including its low pricing strategy, its exclusive supply contract with the City of Calgary, and its governance.

How Academic Research Shapes Public Policy

October, 2006:  A goal of many university research institutes, including the IAPR, is to produce research that has an impact on public policies. But what determines that impact? The IAPR is pleased that Morley Gunderson, a labour economist at the University of Toronto, has chosen to post his recent paper "How Academic Research Shapes Labor and Social Policy" on the IAPR web site. Although the examples he draws upon are mostly from the realm of labour policy, Dr Gunderson's study offers valuable lessons for researchers in all disciplines.

IAPR Visitor and Seminar

September, 2006: The IAPR is pleased to have Dr Gerald Boychuk visit us on September 20th and 21st. Gerry is a member of the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. He has made contributions to our understanding of a number of public policy issues of importance to Canadians. On Wednesday, September 20th he will present a seminar titled "The Alberta Paradox: The Regulation of Private Health Insurance in Comparative Cross-Provincial Perspective." The seminar begins at 3:00 p.m. and will be held in Social Sciences Room 729. All IAPR Professors, Fellows, and Graduate Fellows are invited to attend.

Dividend Tax Credits and Income Trusts

August, 2006: In their inaugural budget of May 2006, the federal Conservative government implemented a substantial cut in the tax rate on dividends received from large corporations. This tax cut was motivated in large part by the recent growth in income trusts, and was intended to level the playing field between dividend distributions from corporations and distributions of income trusts. In his research report "Income Taxes, Integration, and Income Trusts", IAPR Fellow Ken McKenzie analyzes the economic implications of the dividend tax cut in terms of its impact on income trusts, savings and investment.

Municipal Finances in Alberta

August, 2006: IAPR Professor Ron Kneebone has posted a new Policy Brief on the topic of municipal government finances in Alberta. The paper, "Big Ideas (?) for Municipal Finances in Alberta" is based on a presentation he made at a C.D. Howe Institute sponsored conference in March 2006. Drawing on work by IAPR Graduate Fellow Jesus Vito, Kneebone questions the claims made by the mayors of big cities that they have inadequate revenues to meet their expenditure obligations.

Comings and Goings at IAPR

July, 2006:  Ken McKenzie, the inaugural Director of the IAPR, has stepped down to enjoy a sabbatical. He returns from sabbatical to become Head of the Department of Economics. Ron Kneebone , formerly an IAPR Professor, has been appointed the new Director of the Institute by President Weingarten. The IAPR is also pleased to announce the addition of Jeffrey Church to the list of IAPR Professors. Jeff will coordinate the new Markets, Institutions, and Regulation Working Group. To learn more about Jeff and the new MIR working group, click on the People and the Research and Publications links to the left. Jeff will soon be contacting researchers interested in working in the broad area defined by the MIR working group.

Aging Political Parties

June, 2006:  IAPR Professor Lisa Young and co-author William Cross of Carleton University examine the motivations of people who join political parties. They find that rates of party membership are falling, most party members are nearing retirement age, and that those who remain members are frustrated by their inability to influence party policies. The paper, "Are Canadian Political Parties Empty Vessels?", has been published in the June issue of Choices, a publication of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).

Accommodating Disability in the Workplace

June, 2006:  A conference on Accomodating Disability in the Workplace: Research, Policy and Practice, co-sponsored by the IAPR, the Industrial Relations Research Group at the University of Calgary, the Workers Compensation Board of Alberta, and the Faculty of Management at the University of Alberta, was held on June 14, 2020 at the Westin Hotel in Calgary. The conference chairs were IAPR Professor Daphne Taras and Kelly Williams of the University of Lethbridge.

Labour Arbitration and Policy Conference

June, 2006:  IAPR Fellow Allen Ponak was chair of the Labour Arbitration and Policy Conference held on June 14 and 15 at the Westin Hotel in Calgary.

Party and Election Finance

May, 2006: IAPR Professor Lisa Young hosted a conference on Party and Election Finance: Consequences for Democracy, at the Rozsa Center, University of Calgary, on May 25-26, 2006. To view the conference program click here.

Alberta Requires Amendment to the Labour Code

January, 2006: In an IAPR Policy Brief titled "First Contract Arbitration: Alberta Requires an Amendment to the Labour Code", IAPR Professor Daphne Taras argues important changes need to be made to Alberta's Labour Code. Taras points out that the recent labour dispute at Lakeside Packers in Brooks, Alberta may not have reached the point that it did had an arbitrator been appointed to help craft Lakeside's first collective agreement.

Private Health Care in Alberta

January 2006: In "The Role of Private Financing in Alberta's Health Care System", IAPR Fellow Herb Emery examines the role of private health insurance in Alberta. This Policy Brief is based on a more in-depth investigation examination contained in an IAPR Technical Paper co-authored with Kevin Gerrits.  To see the technical paper click here.

McGuinty's complaint should be Klein's too, paper argues

May, 2005: In an IAPR Policy Brief titled "McGuinty's Complaint", IAPR Professor Ron Kneebone analyzes fiscal imbalances between Ottawa and Ontario, and between Ottawa and Alberta. "If Prime Minister Martin is now recognizing that the size of the imbalance faced by taxpayers in Ontario is too large, will he now be entering into negotiations with Premier Klein to address the exact same problem faced by taxpayers in Alberta? "If not, the only conclusion . . . is that the Prime Minister's response to Premier McGuinty's complaint has little to do with firmly held principles or a sense of fairness, and has everything to do with political expediency," Kneebone writes, suggesting that "vote-rich" and "Liberal-friendly" Ontario is worth a $5.75 billion investment from Ottawa whereas Alberta is not.

Democracy in Alberta Ailing

May, 2005: IAPR has just released a Policy Brief titled "Electoral Democracy in Alberta: Time for Reform". The paper, prepared by Harold Jansen of the University of Lethbridge and IAPR Professor Lisa Young of the University of Calgary, calls for a "Citizens' Assembly" to study and potentially make recommendations for reforming the electoral process; an approach recently used in Ontario and British Columbia. "If you think that democracy matters, then how we elect our governments matters." says Dr. Lisa Young. "This is the one moment when we get some sort of say in who is going to govern us and if the system isn't working - if it doesn't reflect our real preferences - then there's something wrong."

The Decline in AISH Benefits Since 1993

February, 2005: The IAPR released a Policy Brief authored by Ron Kneebone, a professor in the Department of Economics and the IAPR. "Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped: The Decline in Financial Benefits Since 1993" details the decline in the purchasing power of the financial benefit paid to those in the provincial government's AISH program. AISH is intended to provide income support to those whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult for them to earn a living. Kneebone considers alternative measures of what might constitute an appropriate increase in the financial benefit relative to what was paid in 1993. He shows that while disagreement exists over how large should be the increase in the monthly benefit, it would be very difficult to justify as appropriate the $40 increase in the monthly AISH financial benefit the provincial government has awarded since 1993.

Helliwell Visiting Killam Fellow with IAPR

January, 2005: Professor John Helliwell has won the Killam Fellowship for visiting professors at the University of Calgary. Helliwell will be at the University of Calgary for the winter 2005 term, from mid-January to mid-April. Prof. Helliwell is a distinguished economist from the University of British Columbia and was nominated for the fellowship by the IAPR. While at the University of Calgary, Prof. Helliwell will work with graduate students and members of the IAPR on various aspects of subjective well being.

Visions of Calgary's Future

December 20, 2020: IAPR Research Fellow Byron Miller discusses visions for Calgary's future in his Oped piece for the Calgary Herald. "Cities are not pre-ordained", says Miller, "they are about choices and consequences." In the Oped piece Prof. Miller discusses insights gleaned from the IAPR's speaker series on sustainable urban futures, which included public presentations by the University of Virginia's Tim Beatley, former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt, and former Winnipeg mayor Glenn Murray. Visions of Calgary's Future.

Bolster Heritage Fund

November 1, 2020: Three University of Calgary economists call on the provincial government to revitalize the Heritage Savings and Trust Fund. The IAPR Policy Brief, entitled "Living on Borrowed Time: "Alberta at the Crossroads" is authored by Ron Kneebone, Ken McKenzie and Scott Taylor. “Alberta’s economy is dependent on non-renewable resources, so when times are good it is vitally important that the government have a plan for reinvesting surplus revenue,” the authors say, adding that “it is inappropriate for the province to tie spending to highly volatile royalty revenues; there are certain guiding principles that should be observed in managing public finances in a resource-based economy.” The authors also emphasize the importance of investing in higher education, stating that “higher education may not have brought Alberta to where it is today, but it is required to ensure that it maintains this path into tomorrow."