In a clear victory for rhetoric over substance in the age of post-truth, the Ontario Liberal government has announced that it will run a pilot project to test the so called 'universal basic income” idea. However, from the policy documents that have been released, it is quite obvious the Liberals intend to implement a more regressive version of this deeply flawed policy program. The Liberal-supporting media is tying itself in knots in attempts to support the program. First, a plea decrying Ontario's 'meagre and rule-bound social assistance program' that the provincial government has purposefully manipulated in order to limit access to supports. Then, without a sense of irony, the media say that cash to buy private services is the only way to fix the problems previous Liberal and Conservative governments created through privatization and austerity.
In theory, debt generated by asset recycling is paid back through private sector partners finding efficiencies or increased government revenue driven economic growth. While this may work in the private sector, it does not work for governments. In practice, asset recycling is similar to other privatization schemes – such as public-private partnerships – that cost governments and citizens more money than traditional public debt-financed investment.
The idea being promoted by the Liberal government through its “Basic Income Guarantee” is that we should be moving towards a system where the government redistributes wealth by giving individuals money directly. As wealth redistribution goes, this is an inherently right-wing approach. It depends on the private sector to provide services that those on the Guarantee can afford, it does nothing to improve the employment prospects for those on the Guarantee, and in the end likely only increases inequality. Instead, the government should be investing this money in public services that are provided at no cost to everyone, an initiative that will create more jobs in the process.
This week, a new study on Employment Insurance (EI) was released by the liberal Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). It details how the Conservatives broke the system, and provides recommendations for massive changes to the EI system, including a focus on eliminating regional disparities.
While the majority of Canadians have access to Internet services, costs for these services are substantially higher than most other developed countries and high-speed Internet access is still not universally accessible.
The Conservative government's omnibus budget (Bill C-38) changed much of the way the Employment System will run. Overall, the changes will alter labour market pressures in favour of employers offering low wage jobs. As a result of this bill, it has become even harder to qualify for Employment Insurance. Further, the process of appealing the decision has been changed to eliminate worker and employer seats on the appeals panels. Even before the budget changes, fewer than 40 per cent of unemployed workers qualified for EI even though they are unemployed through no fault of their own.
There is a big difference between the reasons that socialists/leftists bring up inequality and the reasons liberals are concerned with it. However, many on the left seem unable to articulate the difference well enough to distinguish ourselves from liberals when it comes to how we should deal with inequality. There is a cost to this confusion as people are unable to distinguish between the politics of the solutions presented.