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Holiday reading for wonks: Best CCPA-Ontario reads of 2015

Photo: Steve Rhodes/flickr

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Maybe you take the quietude of the holiday season as a time to unplug and reflect. Maybe, like me, you curl up with a pile of progressive reading that you've been meaning to catch up on.

If so, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Ontario office is at your service. Embrace your inner wonk this holiday season. Here are the most read reports, publications, and blog posts from the CCPA-Ontario in 2015:

1. 2015 was a big year for living wage initiatives in Ontario. The CCPA-Ontario and the Ontario Living Wage Network are now working with more than 20-plus communities on living wage initiatives in this province. One victory: the City of Toronto has included championing the living wage as part of its poverty reduction strategy. Our most popular report of the year, Making Ends Meet: Toronto's 2015 Living Wage, is understandably the chief resource for the city on this file. It was written by Economist Kaylie Tiessen in collaboration with the Toronto Living Wage Working Group.

2. The other major victory happened in November: the City of Cambridge voted to become Ontario's first living wage employer. My blog post describing what it means, Making History: Cambridge opens the door to the living wage, was widely shared on social media but my earlier post, Ontario's New Trend: Living Wage Employers was the third most read blog on our site in 2015. Clearly, the living wage is a hot topic in this province.

3. Our new occasional publication, OnPolicy, will take a theme and break it down through a decidedly progressive lens in an accessible way. Our inaugural OnPolicy, The Long Shadow of Mike Harris, is our second most downloaded publication of 2015. We look forward to producing more OnPolicy issues in the New Year.

4. With the advent of a new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, talk about pension policy dominated some policy wonk circles. Our two top publications on the topic in 2015: What Me Worry? by Michael Wolfson, former assistant chief statistician at Statistics Canada, certainly made the rounds. Getting the Design Right on the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, by Senior Economist Sheila Block and CCPA Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie, also turned out to be a go-to resource on this file.

5. One of the most contentious policy files at Queen's Park in 2015 was education, thanks to a rocky provincial relationship with teachers' and education support workers' unions as well as the Toronto District School Board. Our popular report by CCPA Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie, Harris Era Hangovers: Toronto School Trustees' Inherited Funding Shortfall, should be considered the ultimate reference guide for understanding what's wrong with Ontario's education funding formula.

6. After years of avoiding the conversation, the City of Toronto is finally talking turkey about the need to consider new tax revenue options to be able to pay for needed infrastructure and public service improvements. Senior Economist Sheila Block was way ahead of the curve with this ultimate guide, Toronto's Taxing Question: Options to Improve the City's Revenue Health. It's one of our most-read reports of 2015.

7. The other big controversy at Queen's Park in 2015: the province's decision to sell off a prized public asset, Hydro One. In her widely shared blog post, Got a Problem? Privatize It (And Pay The Price For Selling Off Hydro One Later), Senior Economist Sheila Block whipped out all the evidence to show why the sell-off is a bad idea.

Happy reading!

Trish Hennessy is director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Ontario office. Follow her on Twitter @trishhennessy.

Photo: Steve Rhodes/flickr

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