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Councillors support efforts to bring back Basic Income Pilot Project

Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff sought support of a resolution to urge the provincial government to continue the Basic Income Pilot Project, its planned evaluation, and to create policies to encourage good jobs with regular hours and benefits.

Quaiff, in conversation at the recent AMO Conference with the mayor from Kawartha Lakes, learned the program appeared to be working well there.

“They were starting to see some significant changes in their community. They didn’t have the stats yet to be able to prove whether it was good, bad or indifferent, but he gave me the heads up about this resolution coming forward.”

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health indicates the 2016 census shows 13.5 per cent of the population of Prince Edward County lives with low income and studies have shown they are at risk of experiencing lower life expectancies and increased chronic diseases.

Further, Quaiff also shared information with councillors about the recent Poverty Roundtable discussions he attended in London, Ontario.

“I think that was probably one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended,” said Quaiff. “It really addressed the issue of poverty reduction – not just knowing that it’s there in our communities, but actual action to lower it.

“Stats that came out at that conference were staggering to me – 18.4 per cent is the poverty rate in Ontario. 1.2 million children live in low income housing units and on top of that 73 per cent of the people of Ontario were in favour of the minimum wage when it got increased.”

Quaiff learned the four mayors whose municipalities were involved in the Basic Income Pilot were creating the resolution to send to the Ontario government, but without success there, would also be prepared to approach the federal government to consider taking it over.

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  1. olmnonthemtn says:

    OPINION
    Why the left and right should embrace a universal basic income

    VINCENT GASPARRO
    CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
    PUBLISHED MARCH 15, 2018
    UPDATED MARCH 15, 2018
    Vincent Gasparro is CEO of Apolo Acquisition Corp. and was an adviser to former prime minister Paul Martin.
    As Ontario pilots a basic-income program, support for the concept is growing. For instance, in a recent Northeastern University/Gallup survey, 48 per cent of Americans supported the implementation of a universal basic income, up from 12 per cent in a poll 10 years ago.
    What the evidence from the Ontario pilot suggests is that from a social perspective, a basic income improves mental and physical health, which in turn encourages recipients to find more gainful employment. The basic income provides a firm foundation from which people are able to afford to look after themselves, worry-free.

    From an economic point of view, as the global economy continues to change more quickly and drastically than ever before – and government looks at how to ease the economic disruption it will cause – a basic income has the ability to act as a stabilizer. It becomes the granite beneath the feet of every citizen.
    This sense of a solid footing is one of the reasons why the job creators in Silicon Valley – including Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape; Robin Chase, the CEO of Zip Car; and Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX – have expressed support for the concept.

    These CEOs realize – as do others – that a basic income has a direct positive impact in the fight against the rapidly increasing nature of inequality, which is exacerbated in part by the automation occurring within different sectors of advanced industrialized economies. A basic income can give those impacted most by these economic changes the ability to get re-educated and retrained.
    Those on the left of the political spectrum have supported a basic income because of the impact it would have in the war on poverty, an impact which the initial Ontario data show is extremely positive. People on the right of the political spectrum support a basic income because it would allow government to become smaller by streamlining redundant government programs, which are much more costly to administer.
    From a macroeconomic perspective, a basic income will create a significant multiplier effect as people have more money to spend on additional goods and services.
    For example, there is a smaller-scale version of a universal basic income in Alaska. The Alaska Permanent Fund, which manages the natural resource revenue derived in the state of Alaska, provides an unconditional transfer to state residents in an amount ranging from US$2,000 to US$3,000 annually. Economists, after analyzing the impact of the dividend to state residents, observed it had no material impact on employment and did not discourage workforce participation. Instead, it was found to help provide the basic sense of security people needed to pursue further work and get ahead.
    The main premise of a universal basic income is that the government sends out regular cheques to every citizen regardless of age, employment status and wealth. The amount sent is the basic amount needed to afford life’s essentials. With no means-testing, a universal basic income would be exactly that – universal.

    Instead, Ontario is testing a version of a basic income for those at the lower end of the income spectrum; in other words, those who most need support from government. The evidence from this pilot will have a profound effect on how other jurisdictions around the world consider a basic income for their own citizenry.
    The province’s model, which provides individuals with an annual income of $16,989 and couples up to $24,027, is a recent innovation, but the results so far are very encouraging. Now is the time to expand this program and make it truly universal.
    In an ultracompetitive global economic environment, where the fight for capital and talent is ever-increasing, our governments will have to start thinking more creatively about being able to attract global pools of talent and capital. This is going to require rethinking what additional competitive advantages we offer versus other jurisdictions, particularly the United States.
    At a time of uncertainty in our trade relationship with the U.S., the Ontario government is doing just that, offering innovative public policy in order to differentiate ourselves from the U.S. and attract top-level talent to our province and country. This project has put Ontario’s policy innovations on the map. The public policy rethink that has begun under the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne is as much a social benefit as it is an economic necessity.

  2. Jay says:

    Basic income will increase economic inequality and foster the growth of a low wage economy, by shifting the costs of production from businesses to the taxpayer. Why pay a living wage when you can externalize those costs and just get the public to top up inadequate wages? It’s the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing, and combined with regressive taxation and offshoring into tax havens it means more for the rich, less for everyone else. Food stamps/SNAP has had a similar effect in the US, it enables corporations to pay starvation wages while preventing the starvation part. That means an even greater level of exploitation. Furthermore, a basic income will necessarily be insufficient to live on comfortably, because the capitalist class will never be tricked into providing a bottomless strike fund for workers. Doing so would allow workers to strike at will and get whatever they want. It will necessarily, due to the power dynamic of capitalism and conflicting interests between bosses and workers, be insufficient to provide a decent life on its own, yet many of its advocates argue that it can replace existing social welfare and disability supports. Terrible idea, but one with many well-intentioned supporters. Instead of a basic income, the working class should just take control of the means of production.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    I think we all know where the dollars will come from – you and me! Frankly, that doesn’t bother me. What does bother me are the 1% who own everything and pay nothing. You watch the gravy train pull into the station once Ford starts his privatization push – and he will. The propaganda about how the poor suck us dry hasn’t even begun yet – the public need to be prepared for it. The old saying “corporate welfare bums” (CWB’s) will become more meaningful as this new government roles out the tax breaks. I never minded giving to the less fortunate, nor have I ever believed that it was the poor who were the major drain on our society – instead it is the rich CWBs who pay less taxes than you and I. Talk about a well oiled propaganda machine1

  4. Mark says:

    Who pays the basic income to someone not working? Where do those dollars come from?Can that be answered?

  5. olmnonthemtn says:

    Here are 2 sites where we can sign petitions to save basic income. change.org nears 20,000 signatures, Lead now nears 30,000

    https://www.change.org/p/save-the-ontario-basic-income-pilot-project/psf/share?share=1

    https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/save-the-basic-income-pilot

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    Good for Mayor Quaiff and Council for standing up for those less fortunate. As the PEC Community Foundation has reported, our community has higher unemployment and one of the lowest income per capita rates in the province – add to this high food insecurity and the the highest teen pregnancy rate in the province and we see that this is a community that suffers from a huge gap between rich and poor. The new policies of the Ontario government will hurt our community for sure. Too bad we didn’t know what the province was going to do prior to election day.

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