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Part One: AIMS now main source of intellectual capital in debate over Atlantic Canada’s future.

Atlantic Canada has been in the national news a great deal these days. First Canadian Alliance Board Member John Mykytyshyn calling Atlantic Canadians lazy because of the region’s traditional reliance on transfer payments. Premier Ralph Klein called into question the wisdom of regional economic development programmes. Then one of the Alliance’s leading spokesmen, Jason Kenney, announced their intention to cut business subsidies within two years of the election of an Alliance government This touched off a heated reply from Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin, and more measured remarks from some of the region’s other premiers.

In much of the vigorous national debate that has ensued, one name has come significantly and consistently to the fore: AIMS. For the first time in this region, there exists a voice that has rigorously examined past policies, such as regional economic development, unemployment insurance, high taxes, and poor quality social programmes, and shown how they have been the chief cause of this region’s poor economic and social performance.

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Part Two: Caught in the welfare Trap: AIMS study causes Newfoundland, PEI, to re-examine welfare policy.

The recent AIMS paper “Taking a Road Less Taxing: the Atlantic Provinces and the National Child Benefit” is sparking an examination of social support payments in several Atlantic Canadian provinces. The authors of the AIMS study took part in a conference call with finance officials from Newfoundland in order to explain their conclusion that people attempting to get off welfare face marginal tax rates in excess of 100%. Given the tax-free nature of welfare payments and the huge claw backs for welfare recipients making as little as $12,000 a year, leaving welfare for the workplace is virtually impossible. When the call was over the AIMS authors concluded that the barriers to entering the workforce were even more formidable than they had thought.

In Prince Edward Island the report made it to Premier Binns’ desk and, at his request, the Department of Health and Social Services and the Provincial Treasurer are examining their tax policies in light of the report’s findings.

The AIMS report went on to suggest that the Atlantic Provinces use funds from increases to the National Child Care Benefit to introduce a child tax deduction that would reduce the disincentive for welfare recipients to return to the work force.

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Part Three: Peter Fenwick, Newfoundland journalist, commentator and former politician joins AIMS as Director of Communications and Publications.

Peter Fenwick has just been appointed to the newly created post of Director of Communications and Publications at the Institute.

Peter Fenwick is a syndicated columnist with the Southam daily newspapers in Newfoundland, and has been a member of the St. John’s Telegram editorial board for the past six years. He has also been a panelist on Newfoundland’s CBC-TV supper hour program “Here and Now”. He brings a wealth of experience to the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, Atlantic Canada’s think tank.

In his new position Mr. Fenwick will be responsible for coordinating the groundbreaking research the Institute is sponsoring that is challenging many of the old myths about Atlantic Canada.

Prior to his stint as journalist and TV pundit, Mr. Fenwick was the first member of the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP elected to the House of Assembly. He has served as a member of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Board of Regents for six years and is the chair of the finance committee. He is also a member of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Social Development.

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Part Four: No way to make tax policy in Nova Scotia

In his bi-monthly column in the Chronicle-Herald, AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley criticises the Nova Scotia government for makiing business taxation policy on the fly. Cutting special tax deals with individual, as was recently done with Sobeys and ICT, which runs a call centre in Sydney. Such “side deals” create uncertainty and competition for government largesse among businesses. The theory that lower taxes stimulate investment and consumption, however, is the right one. The solution: a general tax cut for all, not just for a few.

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Part Five: Is the Tide Going Out on Federal Aid to Atlantic Canada?

All four Atlantic Premiers are lobbying hard for additional transfers to their provinces. With low population growth and with increased cost of providing basic health and education services, the premiers tried to get the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) increased to Atlantic Canadian provinces. Their failure, argues Peter Fenwick, is a sign that the rest of Canada is tiring of transferring money that only props up the political regimes of the Atlantic Premiers. With the Canadian Alliance committed to ending ACOA and with the federal Liberals trashing the Canada Jobs Fund, in future the Atlantic Provinces will have to do more with their own resources.

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Part Six: Where is Nova Scotia on EI reform?

Employment Insurance continues to cause major damage to labour markets throughout Atlantic Canada. Yet the federal government has been quite explicit that they plan to roll back the 1996 EI reforms that slightly improved the incentives for workers to remain at work rather than to remain trapped in the seasonal work/EI cycle. Yet the Nova Scotia government has failed to respond to the federal government’s call for input from the provinces on its proposed EI changes. Silence, as AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley reminds the province in this article, implies consent.

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Part Seven: Aquaculture conference early bird registration ends in a few days

AIMS new conference on aquaculture, “How to Farm the Seas: The Science, Economics and Politics of Aquaculture”, will take place on PEI from 28-30 September. Jointly organised with the Canadian Aquaculture Institute of UPEI, the conference is bringing together many of the leading commentators and analysts of aquaculture in the world today, including:

James Anderson, University of Rhode Island
Yves Bastien, Ottawa’s Aquaculture Commissioner
Jim Brackett, Syndel Laboratories, Vancouver
Tor Horsberg, Norwegian School of Veterinary Medicine
James Muir, Institute of Aquaculture, Stirling University, Scotland
David Murray, Statistical Assessment Service, Washington D.C.
Bill Robertson, Connors Bros., Ltd., New Brunswick
Fred Whoriskey, Atlantic Salmon Federation, New Brunswick
and many, many more. Themes to be addressed include: Aquaculture in Canada and the World; the Uses and Abuses of Science in Aquaculture; and the Political Economy of Aquaculture.

Registration at the conference is limited. A special early bird registration fee of $175 is available for those who register before September 1, 2000. ***That deadline is just days away.*** Don’t pay more than you have to to attend the most important aquaculture event of the year!

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