Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Eating is an essential act of survival that we do every day. But eating is much more than biology. It’s also social, cultural, psychological, emotional and political.

The food we eat and the circumstances we eat it in tell us who we are and where we belong in our society.

What does it tell us about who we are, and where we belong, when we cant afford to buy the food we need and want for ourselves and our families? All of us have had the experience of being hungry, having skipped a meal or as we await our next. But for most of us, we know that food will soon be available. That is an entirely different experience than having no food in the cupboard and no money to buy more. This condition of food insecurity affects at least 4 million Canadians, including more than a million kids. What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?

Most Canadians cannot bear the thought that so many in this country are hungry. That’s why we have food banks, an effort started by ordinary Canadians in their communities, distributing food to those who didnt have enough to eat. But after more than thirty years of trying, food banks have been unable to solve the problem of hunger. When they started in the 80s, food banks saw themselves as a temporary measure. They expected to fold up and disappear once the economy improved. But even though we are vastly more wealthy as a country, the number of Canadians using food banks remains high, and the number of food insecure Canadians is even higher.

“What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?”

Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty. Food insecurity is one of the many symptoms of poverty and will disappear only when we effectively tackle its source.

As an academic and researcher who has studied food insecurity for more than twenty years, I yearn for the day when food banks can close because they are no longer needed. Two years ago, I learned about an exciting new national campaign to promote an unconditional basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty. I became a founding member of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and have watched this idea take off. While there have been national conversations off and on about basic income for many years, it now appears basic incomes time has finally come.

As part of a progressive package of social supports including programs like pharmacare and affordable housing, an effective basic income guarantee really could eliminate poverty. In doing so it would also eliminate food insecurity and a host of other social determinants of stress, poor health, suffering and premature death. Some of us believe there is a strong moral and ethical imperative for us to look after each other. There is also a strong economic case. We know that for every dollar we invest in reducing poverty, eventually we will save about two dollars in health care, education and the justice system.

“Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty.”

For these reasons, even those uninterested in poverty reduction have become supporters. A basic income guarantee could help alleviate the pervasive sense of insecurity that we are experiencing, as full-time jobs with benefits disappear and climate change creates uncertainty. At Queens university where I teach, at least 40% of the undergraduate students are on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. That anxiety has in part been created by the systematic underfunding and dismantling of social programs, and years of being told that we are on our own to face the uncertainties of life. Intense individualism and competition for allegedly scarce resources (like a decent, stable job) have taken an immense toll.

All across the country health professionals, non-governmental organizations, elected officials and ordinary citizens are becoming enthusiastic about basic income. Food Banks Canada has endorsed basic income. Mayors Nenshi (Calgary) and Iveson (Edmonton) are fans, as well as mayors in many other cities. The recently elected premier of PEI, Wade McLaughlin, has pledged his support. Kingston City Council recently became the first elected body to endorse basic income, and did so unanimously. Now other municipal governments are following suit.

“It now appears basic incomes time has finally come.”

Just last month Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, has begun seriously considering a federal basic income guarantee, and newly appointed Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Franois Blais, has been mandated to explore a basic income for Quebecers. Former Senator Hugh Segal is one of Canadas biggest (and most persistent) champions of basic income. The Ontario Public Health Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Medical Association, and many other health professionals and their associations are calling for a basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty, improve health, and save Medicare.

Well-known author and activist Naomi Klein recommends the implementation a basic income as the most important step in solving global climate change. She believes it will foster a sense of collectivity, enabling us to work together to tackle this urgent public health problem.

From solving poverty and food insecurity to facilitating action on global climate change, a basic income guarantee can give us a solid collective footing to work together again, to find new ways to live together and more sustainably on the planet, and reimagine our collective future. Implementing a basic income guarantee would tell us a lot about who we imagine ourselves to be as Canadians a compassionate and pragmatic people who understand that addressing the upstream causes of poor health and premature death is a nations most urgent and important goal.

Elaine Power is an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Studies at Queens University. She teaches social determinants of health to several hundred undergraduate students and does research about food and eating, especially in the context of poverty. She is a co-founder of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and a member of the Basic Income Canada Network.

Visit link:

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Eating is an essential act of survival that we do every day. But eating is much more than biology. It’s also social, cultural, psychological, emotional and political.

The food we eat and the circumstances we eat it in tell us who we are and where we belong in our society.

What does it tell us about who we are, and where we belong, when we cant afford to buy the food we need and want for ourselves and our families? All of us have had the experience of being hungry, having skipped a meal or as we await our next. But for most of us, we know that food will soon be available. That is an entirely different experience than having no food in the cupboard and no money to buy more. This condition of food insecurity affects at least 4 million Canadians, including more than a million kids. What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?

Most Canadians cannot bear the thought that so many in this country are hungry. That’s why we have food banks, an effort started by ordinary Canadians in their communities, distributing food to those who didnt have enough to eat. But after more than thirty years of trying, food banks have been unable to solve the problem of hunger. When they started in the 80s, food banks saw themselves as a temporary measure. They expected to fold up and disappear once the economy improved. But even though we are vastly more wealthy as a country, the number of Canadians using food banks remains high, and the number of food insecure Canadians is even higher.

“What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?”

Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty. Food insecurity is one of the many symptoms of poverty and will disappear only when we effectively tackle its source.

As an academic and researcher who has studied food insecurity for more than twenty years, I yearn for the day when food banks can close because they are no longer needed. Two years ago, I learned about an exciting new national campaign to promote an unconditional basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty. I became a founding member of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and have watched this idea take off. While there have been national conversations off and on about basic income for many years, it now appears basic incomes time has finally come.

As part of a progressive package of social supports including programs like pharmacare and affordable housing, an effective basic income guarantee really could eliminate poverty. In doing so it would also eliminate food insecurity and a host of other social determinants of stress, poor health, suffering and premature death. Some of us believe there is a strong moral and ethical imperative for us to look after each other. There is also a strong economic case. We know that for every dollar we invest in reducing poverty, eventually we will save about two dollars in health care, education and the justice system.

“Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty.”

For these reasons, even those uninterested in poverty reduction have become supporters. A basic income guarantee could help alleviate the pervasive sense of insecurity that we are experiencing, as full-time jobs with benefits disappear and climate change creates uncertainty. At Queens university where I teach, at least 40% of the undergraduate students are on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. That anxiety has in part been created by the systematic underfunding and dismantling of social programs, and years of being told that we are on our own to face the uncertainties of life. Intense individualism and competition for allegedly scarce resources (like a decent, stable job) have taken an immense toll.

All across the country health professionals, non-governmental organizations, elected officials and ordinary citizens are becoming enthusiastic about basic income. Food Banks Canada has endorsed basic income. Mayors Nenshi (Calgary) and Iveson (Edmonton) are fans, as well as mayors in many other cities. The recently elected premier of PEI, Wade McLaughlin, has pledged his support. Kingston City Council recently became the first elected body to endorse basic income, and did so unanimously. Now other municipal governments are following suit.

“It now appears basic incomes time has finally come.”

Just last month Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, has begun seriously considering a federal basic income guarantee, and newly appointed Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Franois Blais, has been mandated to explore a basic income for Quebecers. Former Senator Hugh Segal is one of Canadas biggest (and most persistent) champions of basic income. The Ontario Public Health Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Medical Association, and many other health professionals and their associations are calling for a basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty, improve health, and save Medicare.

Well-known author and activist Naomi Klein recommends the implementation a basic income as the most important step in solving global climate change. She believes it will foster a sense of collectivity, enabling us to work together to tackle this urgent public health problem.

From solving poverty and food insecurity to facilitating action on global climate change, a basic income guarantee can give us a solid collective footing to work together again, to find new ways to live together and more sustainably on the planet, and reimagine our collective future. Implementing a basic income guarantee would tell us a lot about who we imagine ourselves to be as Canadians a compassionate and pragmatic people who understand that addressing the upstream causes of poor health and premature death is a nations most urgent and important goal.

Elaine Power is an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Studies at Queens University. She teaches social determinants of health to several hundred undergraduate students and does research about food and eating, especially in the context of poverty. She is a co-founder of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and a member of the Basic Income Canada Network.

The rest is here:

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

The Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee …

‘Yes, a different world is possible, and it will include basic income security for all. But it will not come about without a thorough discussion involving a broad range of scholars, determined to look beyond the borders of their discipline and their nation, and eager to learn from the failures of the past. This is precisely the sort of collective effort which this book splendidly illustrates.’ Professor Philippe Van Parijs, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and Harvard University, USA ‘Big ideas like these, carefully considered, could change the world. Although not everyone will agree that basic income guarantees should top the progressive social policy agenda, readers of this book will be enriched by the breadth and depth of arguments on their behalf. Ranging from narrative history to technical labour economics, these essays describe a compelling strategy for developing a kinder, gentler economy.’ Professor Nancy Folbre, University of Massachusetts, USA ‘For anyone researching a Citizen’s Income this book is essential reading.’ Citizen’s Income Newsletter ‘The book makes an excellent contribution to the literature…the quality of the essays is truly outstanding…thought provoking, well researched, well written, and well edited.’ Journal of Economic Issues

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The Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee …

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Eating is an essential act of survival that we do every day. But eating is much more than biology. It’s also social, cultural, psychological, emotional and political.

The food we eat and the circumstances we eat it in tell us who we are and where we belong in our society.

What does it tell us about who we are, and where we belong, when we cant afford to buy the food we need and want for ourselves and our families? All of us have had the experience of being hungry, having skipped a meal or as we await our next. But for most of us, we know that food will soon be available. That is an entirely different experience than having no food in the cupboard and no money to buy more. This condition of food insecurity affects at least 4 million Canadians, including more than a million kids. What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?

Most Canadians cannot bear the thought that so many in this country are hungry. That’s why we have food banks, an effort started by ordinary Canadians in their communities, distributing food to those who didnt have enough to eat. But after more than thirty years of trying, food banks have been unable to solve the problem of hunger. When they started in the 80s, food banks saw themselves as a temporary measure. They expected to fold up and disappear once the economy improved. But even though we are vastly more wealthy as a country, the number of Canadians using food banks remains high, and the number of food insecure Canadians is even higher.

“What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?”

Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty. Food insecurity is one of the many symptoms of poverty and will disappear only when we effectively tackle its source.

As an academic and researcher who has studied food insecurity for more than twenty years, I yearn for the day when food banks can close because they are no longer needed. Two years ago, I learned about an exciting new national campaign to promote an unconditional basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty. I became a founding member of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and have watched this idea take off. While there have been national conversations off and on about basic income for many years, it now appears basic incomes time has finally come.

As part of a progressive package of social supports including programs like pharmacare and affordable housing, an effective basic income guarantee really could eliminate poverty. In doing so it would also eliminate food insecurity and a host of other social determinants of stress, poor health, suffering and premature death. Some of us believe there is a strong moral and ethical imperative for us to look after each other. There is also a strong economic case. We know that for every dollar we invest in reducing poverty, eventually we will save about two dollars in health care, education and the justice system.

“Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty.”

For these reasons, even those uninterested in poverty reduction have become supporters. A basic income guarantee could help alleviate the pervasive sense of insecurity that we are experiencing, as full-time jobs with benefits disappear and climate change creates uncertainty. At Queens university where I teach, at least 40% of the undergraduate students are on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. That anxiety has in part been created by the systematic underfunding and dismantling of social programs, and years of being told that we are on our own to face the uncertainties of life. Intense individualism and competition for allegedly scarce resources (like a decent, stable job) have taken an immense toll.

All across the country health professionals, non-governmental organizations, elected officials and ordinary citizens are becoming enthusiastic about basic income. Food Banks Canada has endorsed basic income. Mayors Nenshi (Calgary) and Iveson (Edmonton) are fans, as well as mayors in many other cities. The recently elected premier of PEI, Wade McLaughlin, has pledged his support. Kingston City Council recently became the first elected body to endorse basic income, and did so unanimously. Now other municipal governments are following suit.

“It now appears basic incomes time has finally come.”

Just last month Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, has begun seriously considering a federal basic income guarantee, and newly appointed Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Franois Blais, has been mandated to explore a basic income for Quebecers. Former Senator Hugh Segal is one of Canadas biggest (and most persistent) champions of basic income. The Ontario Public Health Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Medical Association, and many other health professionals and their associations are calling for a basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty, improve health, and save Medicare.

Well-known author and activist Naomi Klein recommends the implementation a basic income as the most important step in solving global climate change. She believes it will foster a sense of collectivity, enabling us to work together to tackle this urgent public health problem.

From solving poverty and food insecurity to facilitating action on global climate change, a basic income guarantee can give us a solid collective footing to work together again, to find new ways to live together and more sustainably on the planet, and reimagine our collective future. Implementing a basic income guarantee would tell us a lot about who we imagine ourselves to be as Canadians a compassionate and pragmatic people who understand that addressing the upstream causes of poor health and premature death is a nations most urgent and important goal.

Elaine Power is an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Studies at Queens University. She teaches social determinants of health to several hundred undergraduate students and does research about food and eating, especially in the context of poverty. She is a co-founder of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and a member of the Basic Income Canada Network.

Read the original post:

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Eating is an essential act of survival that we do every day. But eating is much more than biology. It’s also social, cultural, psychological, emotional and political.

The food we eat and the circumstances we eat it in tell us who we are and where we belong in our society.

What does it tell us about who we are, and where we belong, when we cant afford to buy the food we need and want for ourselves and our families? All of us have had the experience of being hungry, having skipped a meal or as we await our next. But for most of us, we know that food will soon be available. That is an entirely different experience than having no food in the cupboard and no money to buy more. This condition of food insecurity affects at least 4 million Canadians, including more than a million kids. What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?

Most Canadians cannot bear the thought that so many in this country are hungry. That’s why we have food banks, an effort started by ordinary Canadians in their communities, distributing food to those who didnt have enough to eat. But after more than thirty years of trying, food banks have been unable to solve the problem of hunger. When they started in the 80s, food banks saw themselves as a temporary measure. They expected to fold up and disappear once the economy improved. But even though we are vastly more wealthy as a country, the number of Canadians using food banks remains high, and the number of food insecure Canadians is even higher.

“What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?”

Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty. Food insecurity is one of the many symptoms of poverty and will disappear only when we effectively tackle its source.

As an academic and researcher who has studied food insecurity for more than twenty years, I yearn for the day when food banks can close because they are no longer needed. Two years ago, I learned about an exciting new national campaign to promote an unconditional basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty. I became a founding member of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and have watched this idea take off. While there have been national conversations off and on about basic income for many years, it now appears basic incomes time has finally come.

As part of a progressive package of social supports including programs like pharmacare and affordable housing, an effective basic income guarantee really could eliminate poverty. In doing so it would also eliminate food insecurity and a host of other social determinants of stress, poor health, suffering and premature death. Some of us believe there is a strong moral and ethical imperative for us to look after each other. There is also a strong economic case. We know that for every dollar we invest in reducing poverty, eventually we will save about two dollars in health care, education and the justice system.

“Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty.”

For these reasons, even those uninterested in poverty reduction have become supporters. A basic income guarantee could help alleviate the pervasive sense of insecurity that we are experiencing, as full-time jobs with benefits disappear and climate change creates uncertainty. At Queens university where I teach, at least 40% of the undergraduate students are on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. That anxiety has in part been created by the systematic underfunding and dismantling of social programs, and years of being told that we are on our own to face the uncertainties of life. Intense individualism and competition for allegedly scarce resources (like a decent, stable job) have taken an immense toll.

All across the country health professionals, non-governmental organizations, elected officials and ordinary citizens are becoming enthusiastic about basic income. Food Banks Canada has endorsed basic income. Mayors Nenshi (Calgary) and Iveson (Edmonton) are fans, as well as mayors in many other cities. The recently elected premier of PEI, Wade McLaughlin, has pledged his support. Kingston City Council recently became the first elected body to endorse basic income, and did so unanimously. Now other municipal governments are following suit.

“It now appears basic incomes time has finally come.”

Just last month Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, has begun seriously considering a federal basic income guarantee, and newly appointed Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Franois Blais, has been mandated to explore a basic income for Quebecers. Former Senator Hugh Segal is one of Canadas biggest (and most persistent) champions of basic income. The Ontario Public Health Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Medical Association, and many other health professionals and their associations are calling for a basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty, improve health, and save Medicare.

Well-known author and activist Naomi Klein recommends the implementation a basic income as the most important step in solving global climate change. She believes it will foster a sense of collectivity, enabling us to work together to tackle this urgent public health problem.

From solving poverty and food insecurity to facilitating action on global climate change, a basic income guarantee can give us a solid collective footing to work together again, to find new ways to live together and more sustainably on the planet, and reimagine our collective future. Implementing a basic income guarantee would tell us a lot about who we imagine ourselves to be as Canadians a compassionate and pragmatic people who understand that addressing the upstream causes of poor health and premature death is a nations most urgent and important goal.

Elaine Power is an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Studies at Queens University. She teaches social determinants of health to several hundred undergraduate students and does research about food and eating, especially in the context of poverty. She is a co-founder of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and a member of the Basic Income Canada Network.

Visit link:

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Eating is an essential act of survival that we do every day. But eating is much more than biology. It’s also social, cultural, psychological, emotional and political.

The food we eat and the circumstances we eat it in tell us who we are and where we belong in our society.

What does it tell us about who we are, and where we belong, when we cant afford to buy the food we need and want for ourselves and our families? All of us have had the experience of being hungry, having skipped a meal or as we await our next. But for most of us, we know that food will soon be available. That is an entirely different experience than having no food in the cupboard and no money to buy more. This condition of food insecurity affects at least 4 million Canadians, including more than a million kids. What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?

Most Canadians cannot bear the thought that so many in this country are hungry. That’s why we have food banks, an effort started by ordinary Canadians in their communities, distributing food to those who didnt have enough to eat. But after more than thirty years of trying, food banks have been unable to solve the problem of hunger. When they started in the 80s, food banks saw themselves as a temporary measure. They expected to fold up and disappear once the economy improved. But even though we are vastly more wealthy as a country, the number of Canadians using food banks remains high, and the number of food insecure Canadians is even higher.

“What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?”

Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty. Food insecurity is one of the many symptoms of poverty and will disappear only when we effectively tackle its source.

As an academic and researcher who has studied food insecurity for more than twenty years, I yearn for the day when food banks can close because they are no longer needed. Two years ago, I learned about an exciting new national campaign to promote an unconditional basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty. I became a founding member of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and have watched this idea take off. While there have been national conversations off and on about basic income for many years, it now appears basic incomes time has finally come.

As part of a progressive package of social supports including programs like pharmacare and affordable housing, an effective basic income guarantee really could eliminate poverty. In doing so it would also eliminate food insecurity and a host of other social determinants of stress, poor health, suffering and premature death. Some of us believe there is a strong moral and ethical imperative for us to look after each other. There is also a strong economic case. We know that for every dollar we invest in reducing poverty, eventually we will save about two dollars in health care, education and the justice system.

“Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty.”

For these reasons, even those uninterested in poverty reduction have become supporters. A basic income guarantee could help alleviate the pervasive sense of insecurity that we are experiencing, as full-time jobs with benefits disappear and climate change creates uncertainty. At Queens university where I teach, at least 40% of the undergraduate students are on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. That anxiety has in part been created by the systematic underfunding and dismantling of social programs, and years of being told that we are on our own to face the uncertainties of life. Intense individualism and competition for allegedly scarce resources (like a decent, stable job) have taken an immense toll.

All across the country health professionals, non-governmental organizations, elected officials and ordinary citizens are becoming enthusiastic about basic income. Food Banks Canada has endorsed basic income. Mayors Nenshi (Calgary) and Iveson (Edmonton) are fans, as well as mayors in many other cities. The recently elected premier of PEI, Wade McLaughlin, has pledged his support. Kingston City Council recently became the first elected body to endorse basic income, and did so unanimously. Now other municipal governments are following suit.

“It now appears basic incomes time has finally come.”

Just last month Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, has begun seriously considering a federal basic income guarantee, and newly appointed Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Franois Blais, has been mandated to explore a basic income for Quebecers. Former Senator Hugh Segal is one of Canadas biggest (and most persistent) champions of basic income. The Ontario Public Health Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Medical Association, and many other health professionals and their associations are calling for a basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty, improve health, and save Medicare.

Well-known author and activist Naomi Klein recommends the implementation a basic income as the most important step in solving global climate change. She believes it will foster a sense of collectivity, enabling us to work together to tackle this urgent public health problem.

From solving poverty and food insecurity to facilitating action on global climate change, a basic income guarantee can give us a solid collective footing to work together again, to find new ways to live together and more sustainably on the planet, and reimagine our collective future. Implementing a basic income guarantee would tell us a lot about who we imagine ourselves to be as Canadians a compassionate and pragmatic people who understand that addressing the upstream causes of poor health and premature death is a nations most urgent and important goal.

Elaine Power is an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Studies at Queens University. She teaches social determinants of health to several hundred undergraduate students and does research about food and eating, especially in the context of poverty. She is a co-founder of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and a member of the Basic Income Canada Network.

Read more here:

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Eating is an essential act of survival that we do every day. But eating is much more than biology. It’s also social, cultural, psychological, emotional and political.

The food we eat and the circumstances we eat it in tell us who we are and where we belong in our society.

What does it tell us about who we are, and where we belong, when we cant afford to buy the food we need and want for ourselves and our families? All of us have had the experience of being hungry, having skipped a meal or as we await our next. But for most of us, we know that food will soon be available. That is an entirely different experience than having no food in the cupboard and no money to buy more. This condition of food insecurity affects at least 4 million Canadians, including more than a million kids. What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?

Most Canadians cannot bear the thought that so many in this country are hungry. That’s why we have food banks, an effort started by ordinary Canadians in their communities, distributing food to those who didnt have enough to eat. But after more than thirty years of trying, food banks have been unable to solve the problem of hunger. When they started in the 80s, food banks saw themselves as a temporary measure. They expected to fold up and disappear once the economy improved. But even though we are vastly more wealthy as a country, the number of Canadians using food banks remains high, and the number of food insecure Canadians is even higher.

“What does it tell us about who we are as a society that we tolerate this in a land of such wealth and abundance?”

Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty. Food insecurity is one of the many symptoms of poverty and will disappear only when we effectively tackle its source.

As an academic and researcher who has studied food insecurity for more than twenty years, I yearn for the day when food banks can close because they are no longer needed. Two years ago, I learned about an exciting new national campaign to promote an unconditional basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty. I became a founding member of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and have watched this idea take off. While there have been national conversations off and on about basic income for many years, it now appears basic incomes time has finally come.

As part of a progressive package of social supports including programs like pharmacare and affordable housing, an effective basic income guarantee really could eliminate poverty. In doing so it would also eliminate food insecurity and a host of other social determinants of stress, poor health, suffering and premature death. Some of us believe there is a strong moral and ethical imperative for us to look after each other. There is also a strong economic case. We know that for every dollar we invest in reducing poverty, eventually we will save about two dollars in health care, education and the justice system.

“Its not surprising that food banks havent been able to eliminate hunger, because the upstream problem is poverty.”

For these reasons, even those uninterested in poverty reduction have become supporters. A basic income guarantee could help alleviate the pervasive sense of insecurity that we are experiencing, as full-time jobs with benefits disappear and climate change creates uncertainty. At Queens university where I teach, at least 40% of the undergraduate students are on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. That anxiety has in part been created by the systematic underfunding and dismantling of social programs, and years of being told that we are on our own to face the uncertainties of life. Intense individualism and competition for allegedly scarce resources (like a decent, stable job) have taken an immense toll.

All across the country health professionals, non-governmental organizations, elected officials and ordinary citizens are becoming enthusiastic about basic income. Food Banks Canada has endorsed basic income. Mayors Nenshi (Calgary) and Iveson (Edmonton) are fans, as well as mayors in many other cities. The recently elected premier of PEI, Wade McLaughlin, has pledged his support. Kingston City Council recently became the first elected body to endorse basic income, and did so unanimously. Now other municipal governments are following suit.

“It now appears basic incomes time has finally come.”

Just last month Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, has begun seriously considering a federal basic income guarantee, and newly appointed Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Franois Blais, has been mandated to explore a basic income for Quebecers. Former Senator Hugh Segal is one of Canadas biggest (and most persistent) champions of basic income. The Ontario Public Health Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Medical Association, and many other health professionals and their associations are calling for a basic income guarantee to eliminate poverty, improve health, and save Medicare.

Well-known author and activist Naomi Klein recommends the implementation a basic income as the most important step in solving global climate change. She believes it will foster a sense of collectivity, enabling us to work together to tackle this urgent public health problem.

From solving poverty and food insecurity to facilitating action on global climate change, a basic income guarantee can give us a solid collective footing to work together again, to find new ways to live together and more sustainably on the planet, and reimagine our collective future. Implementing a basic income guarantee would tell us a lot about who we imagine ourselves to be as Canadians a compassionate and pragmatic people who understand that addressing the upstream causes of poor health and premature death is a nations most urgent and important goal.

Elaine Power is an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Studies at Queens University. She teaches social determinants of health to several hundred undergraduate students and does research about food and eating, especially in the context of poverty. She is a co-founder of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and a member of the Basic Income Canada Network.

More here:

Basic income could end food insecurity – Upstream

Basic Income Canada Network

Over 50 presentations made at the2018North American Basic Income Guarantee (NABIG) Congress, held May 24-27 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, are now available!

Titled “Basic Income: Bold Ideas, Practical Solutions for discussion of the idea of Basic Income,” the 17th Annual NABIG Congress wasthemed around (1) the converging paths leading to basic income (e.g., health, human rights, automation, sustainability, democracy, etc.); and (2) making basic income a reality, through pilots, policy, and public support. Approximately 275 people, from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Chile, the U.K., Germany, Portugal, Russia, and Australia attended, including approximately 120 people who presented on a wide range of topics. See the final Congress Program.

The annual NABIG Congress is organized by the Basic Income Canada Network and theU.S. Basic Income GuaranteeNetwork. The 2018 Congress was organized in collaboration with McMaster University, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Low Income Families Together (in Toronto), and otherpartners. Very special thanks are given to McMaster University for tremendous on-site logistical support, and to McMaster University, the LIUNA Enrico Henry Mancinelli Chair in Global Labour Issues, theHamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Deloitte Canada, the Hamilton Community Foundation, theSisters of Providence (Kingston, Ontario), and to a number of individuals for their very kind financial or in-kind support.

Read this article:

Basic Income Canada Network

Is a Basic Income Guarantee the Right Choice for Ontario?

Ontario has introduced basic income pilot projects in 3 Ontario communities that aim to provide a living wage for all. For those who believe in a living wage, the question is whether or not the approach being tested in the Ontario pilot projects is the best way to achieve this objective.

Introduction

In 2017, Ontario introduced pilot projects related to a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) benefit in three Ontario communities. The Ontario pilot projects apply to both low-income individuals in the workforce and low-income individuals not in the workforce. The objective of the pilot projects is to assess whether there is a simple way of providing a living wage that would lift all Ontariansout of poverty.

Before assessing BIG in the context of both working and non-working low-income Ontarians, here is how the BIG benefit works in thethree Ontario pilot programs now underway.

Four thousand low-income Ontario residents in three communities have been offered a spot in the pilot study.Non-working Ontariansreceive a Basic Income payment instead of standard social assistance and those working will receive what amounts to a wage supplement. The annual payment is set at $16,989 for single individuals, or $24,027 for married couples. An additional $6,000 per year will be provided to individuals with disabilities. Recipients get to keep any child benefits, dental and pharmaceutical access, and disability supports to which they are already entitled. However, their Basic Income payment shrinks by 50 cents on each dollar of work related earnings, and by 100 cents on the dollar of CPP or EI income.

Eligible participants are those living on a low income (under $34,000 per year if youre single or under $48,000 per year if youre a couple). There are no asset tests involved in determining eligibility.

Part 1: BIG and Low-Income Workers

According to the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social services, 70% of those living below the low-income threshold in Ontario do not receive Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program benefits andare eligible for the pilot projects for Ontarios Basic Income Program. In other words, all low-income workers will be eligible for the benefit as a top-up of their earnings.

For those who are working, those eligible for the BIG will include not only the approximately 14% of Ontario workers earning the minimum wage but a majority of the roughly 30% of Ontario workers earning within $4 of the minimum wage. A back of the envelop calculation suggests that close to50% of Ontarians eligible forthe Basic Income Program would presently be in the labour force.

Ifclose to 50% of Ontarians who would be eligible for a province-wide BIG are currently employed (whether part-time or full-time), the BIG project must be seen as a labour market initiative as much as it is seen as an attempt at income support reform.

In turn, viewing the Ontario BIG initiative through a labour market lens forces the fundamental question as to whether the best way to bring low-wage workers out of poverty is to: 1) provide these workers with an income supplement to theirwages funded out of the tax base (as a BIG does); or 2) to enact labour law changes that put upward pressure on wages complemented by active labour market measures (e.g. training and apprenticeship) that encourage high wage, stable employment.

The answer to this question, in turn, begs the question as to who Ontarios low wage employers are. In other words, are the employers of Ontarios low-wage workers primarily small mom and pop businesses struggling to pay their rent and hydro bills or are they larger, profitable companies that can afford to pay higher wages and provide full-time employment? If Ontarios low-wage employers are primarily very small businesses, then that strengthens the argument for a BIG as some of these small businesses may have trouble affording significant wage increases. If that is not the case, and a majority of low-wage workers are employed by good-sized, profitable companies, then the better approach is likely to be stronger labour laws and an expansion of active labour market measures that would put upward pressures on wages of large corporations that can afford the higher wage costs.

Unfortunately, definitive Canadian statistics on the size and profitability of low-wage employers are hard to come by. However,in the U.S. it is clear that some 20 mega-companies dominate the minimum-wage world. Walmart alone employs 1.3 million workers at or near minimum-wage; Yum Brands owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC is in second place; and McDonalds takes third.

Overall, 60 percent of American minimum-wage workers are employed by businesses not officially considered small by U. S. government standards.

In Canada, evidence suggests that the U.S. pattern of low wage work dominated by large, profitable companies, is similar with many of the same multi-nationals ranking in the top 10 of employers of low-income workers in both countries.

The take-away from this is that the Basic Income benefits going to Ontarios low-wage workers will directly end up subsidizing some of the worlds largest and most profitable companies companies that have a history of virulent anti-unionism and companies for whom a low-wage, precarious workforce is a key element of their business strategy.

Of course, the use of means tested public programs to compensate for low wages is nothing new. The question is whether Ontario wants to initiate a new, large-scale program that would massively increase these sorts of subsidies to large profitable companies.

The U.S. Experience in subsidizing low-income workers Walmart as an example

At this point, its useful to take a close look at the role existing U.S. programs aimed at low-income households have in subsidizing the incomesof low-wage earners. Lets use Walmart as an example.

Looking at subsidies going to Walmarts U. S. operations is instructive in that a fair amount of research has been done on the subject and also because the absence in the U.S. of universal health insurance and a tradition of miserly income support programs, allows for a focus on U. S. means tested programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps and therefore an easier calculation of subsidies being funneled into a particularly profitable company through means tested programs.

First, according to a report prepared by the Americans for Tax Fairness, the annual bill that States and the U.S. government foot through means-tested programs for American working families making poverty-level wages is $153 billion with $6.2 billion of that going to Walmart alone. In many states, Walmart employees are the largest group of Medicaid and food stamp recipients!

The study estimated that the cost to U. S. taxpayers of a single Walmart Supercentre was between $904,000 and $1.75 million per year, or between $3,000 and $5,800 on average for each of 300 workers typically employed in the Supercentres!

And Walmart is not just big it is enormously profitable.

While $6.2 billion in Medicaid and food stamp aid was required to keep Walmarts low wage employees heads above water, the company had $14 billion in profits in 2016 on revenues of $473 billion. The Walton family, which owns more than 50 percent of Walmart shares, reaps roughly $5 billion in annual dividends and share buybacks from the company. Taken together, the six Walton heirs are the wealthiest family in America, with a net worth of $149 billion. Collectively, these six Waltons have more wealth than 49 million American families combined. The second richest family, the notorious Koch brothers, trail far behind with a total net worth of $86 billion.

Whither Ontario?

The point of this detour into the world of American corporate welfare is to shed some light on the central question of whether low income Ontario workers who again, comprise roughly half those eligible for BIG pilot projects can best be lifted above the poverty line through a BIG or through higher minimum wages and labour law changes that ultimately lead to increased union density in the low-wage service sector.

In the authors opinion, the fact that in Ontario so many BIG eligible workers are employed by large, profitable employers who can afford to pay higher wages and provide more full-time work, suggests that labour law reform leading to higher private sector union densities, is the preferable route.

And to be blunt, does Ontario really want to spend billions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayer money making the Waltons (Walmart) and the billionaires who run 3G Capital (owners of Tims and Burger King) even richer than they already are through subsidizing the wages of their underpaid employees?

So proposition # 1: improving the lot of the working poor is best addressed by an aggressive approach to increasing the minimum wage combined with labour law reform that allows for increased union density in the low-wage, private, service sector. Companies like Walmart, Macdonalds and RBI (the parent company of Tims and Burger King), should not be receiving tax-payer paid income supplements to compensate fortheirlow-wage, precarious workforce that is a key element of these employers business strategy.

The argument to this point is that an aggressive approach to the minimum wage and fundamental labour law reform resulting in increased union density in the low-wage, private sector is more desirable than BIG from a policy perspective.But what is the political feasibility of fundamental labour law reformof this sort? After all, Ontario just went through a comprehensive round of labour law reform that culminated in labour legislation (Bill 148) and while there was a significant increase in the minimum wage,the modest, pro-union changes in the Ontario Labour Relations Act contained in the bill were not the sortof fundamental changes that will likely lead to increased, private sector union densityin the foreseeable future.

In other words, the obvious objection to the argument that labour law changes are the answer to low-wage, precarious work is that the kind of legislative changes that would put substantial upward pressure on wages are simply not going to happen that private sector labour has been on the decline for at least 35 years in Canada and throughout much of the developed world, and that there is no reason to think that that decline is going turn around anytime soon.

Moreover, proponents of this view suggest that the forces of globalization, automation, the so-called sharing economy, and artificial intelligence will continue to strengthen and that continued downward pressure on private sector wages and working conditions is inevitable. It is worth noting that many of the most prominent proponents of the inevitability of an increase in low-wage, precarious work in particular the giants of Silicon Valley are also strong advocates for a Basic Income Guarantee as they are hostile to unions and more generally any regulatory initiatives that would impinge upon their core business models.

The problem with this view is that regional labour markets are products more of politics and policy than of global macro-economic trends. And while it may be true that the general trend over the past 35 years has been policy changes that de-regulate the labour market, keep the minimum wage low and weaken unions, that has not always been the case. The fact is that the politics of labour market policy plays out in a particular time in a particular place and that there have been a number of exceptions to the general trend towards deregulated labour markets. Just looking at Canada, examples of significant initiatives towards the re-regulation of regional labour markets include Ontario in 1992, British Columbia in 1993, Alberta in 2017 and Ontario again in 2017. And Quebec has for decades maintained the strongest labour laws in North America.

In Ontario, the labour legislation passed in December, 2017 (Bill 148), certainly represented a modest tilt towards more regulation of the Ontario labour market that will result in at least some upward pressure on wages. The biggest win by far for advocates of higher wages for low-income workers was the aggressive approach to increasing the minimum wage which resulted in a $14/hr. minimum wageon January 1, 2018, and $15/hr. by January 1, 2019. Of course, the increase to $15/hr. from 14/hr. is in question should there be a PC victory in the June 7 Ontario provincial election.

While Bill 148 certainly included some important gains for Ontarios workers such as the minimum wage increase, it is increasingly clear that without some sort of sectoral, broader-based bargaining regime, Ontarios labour movement will have difficulty in reversing the downward trend in private sector, union density.

On this question, it was somewhat disappointing that the Changing Workplaces final recommendations failed to endorse some of the bolder sectoral bargaining options put forth in the interim report. Moreover, important recommendations that did make it into the final report such as the consolidation into a single bargaining unit of franchisees with the same employer in the same region were rejected by the government. This suggests that labour policies that move beyond the single employer, Wagner Act model, are encountering considerable resistance from both within and outside the government (i.e. the employer community).

That said,the fundamental analysis underlying the Changing Workplaces report and the overall direction of the subsequent legislation, strongly endorsed the view that the growth of low-wage, precarious work was bad for Ontario and that measures needed to be taken to begin to reverse these labour market trends.

This is a view also shared by the provincial Liberals and New Democrats.

BIG and Non-working, Low-income Ontarians

At this point, it would be possible to simply end the paper because once one declares BIG the wrong way to go in dealing with the challenges of the working poor, one essentially abandons the notion of a BIG. It is by definition a solution that applies to all those living in poverty whether they are working or not.

But to say that BIG is not the answer for the non-working poor begs the question as to what is.

It is therefore necessary to address the roughly 50% of BIG eligible participants that are not in the labour force many of which are receiving benefits through Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

To provide some narrative continuity, this article will maintain the same somewhat simplified structure in this part of the paper as was provided in the first part and assess a BIG as it would apply to the non-working poor against an obvious alternative option for improving their lot: namely the policy agendas advanced for decades in one form or another to bring the non-working poor above the poverty line through Employment Insurance reform, social assistance reform and related income support measures.

The first issue that jumps out when comparing the feasibility of a province-wide BIG relative to the social assistance and EI reform agendas that have been advanced for decades, is the huge cost of a province-wide BIG.

The Ontario BIG pilot project will reportedly cost the province $50 million per year and will provide basic income to approximately 4,000 people. An extrapolation from this in an attempt to calculate the cost of a province-wide roll out of BIG involves integrating so many interdependent variables, that even coming up with a cost within a broad band involves much speculation. But starting with the costs related to the top-ups of benefit levels for OW and ODSP (currently costing the Ontario treasury roughly $9 billion dollars) and then factoring in top-ups to EI recipients and low-income workers, it is hard not to come up with an annual net incremental cost of between $15 $20 billion dollars. And by net I mean taking into account potential efficiencies to be gained by implementing a BIG, such as administrative efficiencies and the alleviation of many of the indirect costs of poverty.

And there is only one way to finance an increase in net social spending of between $15 and $20 billion through a massive increase in Ontario provincial taxes.

Tax increases needed to roll out a BIG province-wide

Here are some numbers that suggest why such an increase is not politically feasible.

Ontarios current program spending totals $130 billion on tax revenues of roughly $95 billion.

Other non-tax sources of revenue come from federal transfers which Ontario has little control over, income from Government Business Enterprises, and other forms of non-tax revenues involving fees, etc. These revenue categories provide very little room for growth leaving the only real option to fund a BIG massive increases in the taxes that Ontario has control over.

However, when it comes to the all important provincial Personal Income and Corporate Income taxes, Ontario has control only in a limited sense in that it has no say over the base on which the provincial tax rates are levied. All deductions and exemptions related to the base are controlled by the federal government so on these taxes Ontario can only increase overall revenue by increasing provincial tax rates and reducing provincial tax credits.

On the HST, Ontario still has control over the provincial portion of the rate (currently 8%) but has lost much of the flexibility to apply an increase selectively that it had under its own Provincial Sales Tax (PST). This makes it harder to tailor a HST increase in a politically tactical way. And even when Ontario had more control over what goods and services were subject to its sales tax, an increase in the old PST was always a political hard sell.

Bottom line: the Personal Income Tax, the Corporate Income Tax, and the provincial portion of the HST account for $71 billion of Ontarios total tax revenue of $95 billion. And given that Ontario has no control over the corporate and personal income tax bases, the truth of the matter is that the only way to raise an additional $15 $20 billion to finance a BIG province-wide, is to implement huge rate increases in personal and corporate income tax rates along with a significant increase in the provincial portion of the HST. And this is simply not politically feasible.

Therefore, the danger is that if too many eggs are put into the Basic Income Guarantee basket and the government of the day comes to believe that it is a political necessity to push a BIG out the door province wide, we are very unlikely to get a benefit level that ensures that no one is in poverty (and supplementary programs are maintained) because the increase in taxes to do this would be politically unacceptable. In fact, we are more likely to get a small Universal Basic Income well below the poverty line combined with social program cuts because the initiative would be scaled back to fit politically feasible tax increases.

There is also a danger of the Basic Income project replacing (or at least stalling momentum on) other initiatives under way in Ontario that have similar goals to the Basic Income for the non-working poor but are much farther along in terms of working out the details and are more political feasible. These include the proposals contained in the Income Security Reform Working Groups report, Income Security: A Roadmap for Change.

At the federal level, there is also the danger that EI reform and efforts to significantly increase the Working Income Tax Credit might be undermined by the Basic Income albeit admittedly there does not appear to be a whole lot of momentum behind these initiatives.

An alternative policy agenda to ensure a living income for Ontarios working and non-working poor.

So, whats the alternative agenda if you have your doubts about BIG but believe government should commit to a living income for all?

Here is a partial policy agenda:

Conclusion

Incrementality in all its messiness and complexity is sometimes preferable to a silver bullet that solves all problems. The search for a silver bullet such as BIG to once and for all eliminate poverty and increase equality has its attractions, but it can undermine a set of practical and incremental initiatives where there is already momentum, where many of the details have already been worked out, and which represent substantial steps that taken together, move us closer to the long-term goal of a living income for all in Ontario.

Perhaps the BIG pilot projects will give us some useful information. There are a range of administration and integration issues that will have to be worked through that can be integrated into the agenda outlined above.

But the danger is that the BIG silver bullet approach to eliminating poverty will end up with a weaker social safety net, inadequate labour laws, and a Basic Income benefit that falls far short of ending poverty. This would largely reflect the fact that Ontarians are extremely unlikely to support the kind of tax increases that would have to be implemented to finance a province-wide BIG that would truly give all Ontarians a decent living wage.

In Ontario, much of the hard work of developing detailed policy options to reduce poverty has been completed or is well advanced and are detailed in a variety of recent reports (e.g. Changing Workplaces, Gender Wage Gapand Income Security: A Roadmap for Change). Of course, the extent to whichany future provincialgovernment will actually implement these policy options remains to be seen but the past year has certainly seen some modest progress in assisting low-income Ontarians. Whether that progress continues obviously depends upon the results of the June 7, Ontario election.

Social progress is always a long-term endeavor. And if incrementalism sometimes seems frustrating and the complexity of actual implementation sometimes seems overwhelming, the truth is that it has been ever thus. There really are no alternativesto improving the lot of low-income Ontarians andreducing inequality in this province.

These days, simple solutions are much more thedomain of those who want to hurt low-income Ontarians than to help them. For proof of that assertion simply Google Doug Ford.

Read the original post:

Is a Basic Income Guarantee the Right Choice for Ontario?

Basic Income Canada Network

The2018North American Basic Income Guarantee (NABIG) Congress, held May 24-27 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was a BIG success!Titled “Basic Income: Bold Ideas, Practical Solutions for discussion of the idea of Basic Income,” the 17th Annual NABIG Congress wasthemed around (1) the converging paths leading to basic income (e.g., health, human rights, automation, sustainability, democracy, etc.); and (2) making basic income a reality, through pilots, policy, and public support. Approximately 275 people, from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Chile, the U.K., Germany, Portugal, Russia, and Australia attended, including approximately 120 people who presented on a wide range of topics. See the final Congress Programand keep watch here for posting (by end of June or early July) of finalized Congress presentations and links to video footage.

The annual NABIG Congress is organized by the Basic Income Canada Network and theU.S. Basic Income GuaranteeNetwork. The 2018 Congress was organized in collaboration with McMaster University, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Low Income Families Together (in Toronto), and otherpartners. Very special thanks are given to McMaster University for tremendous on-site logistical support, and to McMaster University, the LIUNA Enrico Henry Mancinelli Chair in Global Labour Issues, theHamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Deloitte Canada, the Hamilton Community Foundation, theSisters of Providence (Kingston, Ontario), and to a number of individuals for their very kind financial or in-kind support.

Read the original:

Basic Income Canada Network

Basic Income Canada Network

The2018North American Basic Income Guarantee (NABIG) Congress, held May 24-27 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was a BIG success!Titled “Basic Income: Bold Ideas, Practical Solutions for discussion of the idea of Basic Income,” the 17th Annual NABIG Congress wasthemed around (1) the converging paths leading to basic income (e.g., health, human rights, automation, sustainability, democracy, etc.); and (2) making basic income a reality, through pilots, policy, and public support. Approximately 275 people, from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Chile, the U.K., Germany, Portugal, Russia, and Australia attended, including approximately 120 people who presented on a wide range of topics. See the final Congress Programand keep watch here for posting (by end of June or early July) of finalized Congress presentations and links to video footage.

The annual NABIG Congress is organized by the Basic Income Canada Network and theU.S. Basic Income GuaranteeNetwork. The 2018 Congress was organized in collaboration with McMaster University, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Low Income Families Together (in Toronto), and otherpartners. Very special thanks are given to McMaster University for tremendous on-site logistical support, and to McMaster University, the LIUNA Enrico Henry Mancinelli Chair in Global Labour Issues, theHamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Deloitte Canada, the Hamilton Community Foundation, theSisters of Providence (Kingston, Ontario), and to a number of individuals for their very kind financial or in-kind support.

Follow this link:

Basic Income Canada Network

Is a Basic Income Guarantee the Right Choice for Ontario?

Ontario has introduced basic income pilot projects in 3 Ontario communities that aim to provide a living wage for all. For those who believe in a living wage, the question is whether or not the approach being tested in the Ontario pilot projects is the best way to achieve this objective.

Introduction

In 2017, Ontario introduced pilot projects related to a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) benefit in three Ontario communities. The Ontario pilot projects apply to both low-income individuals in the workforce and low-income individuals not in the workforce. The objective of the pilot projects is to assess whether there is a simple way of providing a living wage that would lift all Ontariansout of poverty.

Before assessing BIG in the context of both working and non-working low-income Ontarians, here is how the BIG benefit works in thethree Ontario pilot programs now underway.

Four thousand low-income Ontario residents in three communities have been offered a spot in the pilot study.Non-working Ontariansreceive a Basic Income payment instead of standard social assistance and those working will receive what amounts to a wage supplement. The annual payment is set at $16,989 for single individuals, or $24,027 for married couples. An additional $6,000 per year will be provided to individuals with disabilities. Recipients get to keep any child benefits, dental and pharmaceutical access, and disability supports to which they are already entitled. However, their Basic Income payment shrinks by 50 cents on each dollar of work related earnings, and by 100 cents on the dollar of CPP or EI income.

Eligible participants are those living on a low income (under $34,000 per year if youre single or under $48,000 per year if youre a couple). There are no asset tests involved in determining eligibility.

Part 1: BIG and Low-Income Workers

According to the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social services, 70% of those living below the low-income threshold in Ontario do not receive Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program benefits andare eligible for the pilot projects for Ontarios Basic Income Program. In other words, all low-income workers will be eligible for the benefit as a top-up of their earnings.

For those who are working, those eligible for the BIG will include not only the approximately 14% of Ontario workers earning the minimum wage but a majority of the roughly 30% of Ontario workers earning within $4 of the minimum wage. A back of the envelop calculation suggests that close to50% of Ontarians eligible forthe Basic Income Program would presently be in the labour force.

Ifclose to 50% of Ontarians who would be eligible for a province-wide BIG are currently employed (whether part-time or full-time), the BIG project must be seen as a labour market initiative as much as it is seen as an attempt at income support reform.

In turn, viewing the Ontario BIG initiative through a labour market lens forces the fundamental question as to whether the best way to bring low-wage workers out of poverty is to: 1) provide these workers with an income supplement to theirwages funded out of the tax base (as a BIG does); or 2) to enact labour law changes that put upward pressure on wages complemented by active labour market measures (e.g. training and apprenticeship) that encourage high wage, stable employment.

The answer to this question, in turn, begs the question as to who Ontarios low wage employers are. In other words, are the employers of Ontarios low-wage workers primarily small mom and pop businesses struggling to pay their rent and hydro bills or are they larger, profitable companies that can afford to pay higher wages and provide full-time employment? If Ontarios low-wage employers are primarily very small businesses, then that strengthens the argument for a BIG as some of these small businesses may have trouble affording significant wage increases. If that is not the case, and a majority of low-wage workers are employed by good-sized, profitable companies, then the better approach is likely to be stronger labour laws and an expansion of active labour market measures that would put upward pressures on wages of large corporations that can afford the higher wage costs.

Unfortunately, definitive Canadian statistics on the size and profitability of low-wage employers are hard to come by. However,in the U.S. it is clear that some 20 mega-companies dominate the minimum-wage world. Walmart alone employs 1.3 million workers at or near minimum-wage; Yum Brands owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC is in second place; and McDonalds takes third.

Overall, 60 percent of American minimum-wage workers are employed by businesses not officially considered small by U. S. government standards.

In Canada, evidence suggests that the U.S. pattern of low wage work dominated by large, profitable companies, is similar with many of the same multi-nationals ranking in the top 10 of employers of low-income workers in both countries.

The take-away from this is that the Basic Income benefits going to Ontarios low-wage workers will directly end up subsidizing some of the worlds largest and most profitable companies companies that have a history of virulent anti-unionism and companies for whom a low-wage, precarious workforce is a key element of their business strategy.

Of course, the use of means tested public programs to compensate for low wages is nothing new. The question is whether Ontario wants to initiate a new, large-scale program that would massively increase these sorts of subsidies to large profitable companies.

The U.S. Experience in subsidizing low-income workers Walmart as an example

At this point, its useful to take a close look at the role existing U.S. programs aimed at low-income households have in subsidizing the incomesof low-wage earners. Lets use Walmart as an example.

Looking at subsidies going to Walmarts U. S. operations is instructive in that a fair amount of research has been done on the subject and also because the absence in the U.S. of universal health insurance and a tradition of miserly income support programs, allows for a focus on U. S. means tested programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps and therefore an easier calculation of subsidies being funneled into a particularly profitable company through means tested programs.

First, according to a report prepared by the Americans for Tax Fairness, the annual bill that States and the U.S. government foot through means-tested programs for American working families making poverty-level wages is $153 billion with $6.2 billion of that going to Walmart alone. In many states, Walmart employees are the largest group of Medicaid and food stamp recipients!

The study estimated that the cost to U. S. taxpayers of a single Walmart Supercentre was between $904,000 and $1.75 million per year, or between $3,000 and $5,800 on average for each of 300 workers typically employed in the Supercentres!

And Walmart is not just big it is enormously profitable.

While $6.2 billion in Medicaid and food stamp aid was required to keep Walmarts low wage employees heads above water, the company had $14 billion in profits in 2016 on revenues of $473 billion. The Walton family, which owns more than 50 percent of Walmart shares, reaps roughly $5 billion in annual dividends and share buybacks from the company. Taken together, the six Walton heirs are the wealthiest family in America, with a net worth of $149 billion. Collectively, these six Waltons have more wealth than 49 million American families combined. The second richest family, the notorious Koch brothers, trail far behind with a total net worth of $86 billion.

Whither Ontario?

The point of this detour into the world of American corporate welfare is to shed some light on the central question of whether low income Ontario workers who again, comprise roughly half those eligible for BIG pilot projects can best be lifted above the poverty line through a BIG or through higher minimum wages and labour law changes that ultimately lead to increased union density in the low-wage service sector.

In the authors opinion, the fact that in Ontario so many BIG eligible workers are employed by large, profitable employers who can afford to pay higher wages and provide more full-time work, suggests that labour law reform leading to higher private sector union densities, is the preferable route.

And to be blunt, does Ontario really want to spend billions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayer money making the Waltons (Walmart) and the billionaires who run 3G Capital (owners of Tims and Burger King) even richer than they already are through subsidizing the wages of their underpaid employees?

So proposition # 1: improving the lot of the working poor is best addressed by an aggressive approach to increasing the minimum wage combined with labour law reform that allows for increased union density in the low-wage, private, service sector. Companies like Walmart, Macdonalds and RBI (the parent company of Tims and Burger King), should not be receiving tax-payer paid income supplements to compensate fortheirlow-wage, precarious workforce that is a key element of these employers business strategy.

The argument to this point is that an aggressive approach to the minimum wage and fundamental labour law reform resulting in increased union density in the low-wage, private sector is more desirable than BIG from a policy perspective.But what is the political feasibility of fundamental labour law reformof this sort? After all, Ontario just went through a comprehensive round of labour law reform that culminated in labour legislation (Bill 148) and while there was a significant increase in the minimum wage,the modest, pro-union changes in the Ontario Labour Relations Act contained in the bill were not the sortof fundamental changes that will likely lead to increased, private sector union densityin the foreseeable future.

In other words, the obvious objection to the argument that labour law changes are the answer to low-wage, precarious work is that the kind of legislative changes that would put substantial upward pressure on wages are simply not going to happen that private sector labour has been on the decline for at least 35 years in Canada and throughout much of the developed world, and that there is no reason to think that that decline is going turn around anytime soon.

Moreover, proponents of this view suggest that the forces of globalization, automation, the so-called sharing economy, and artificial intelligence will continue to strengthen and that continued downward pressure on private sector wages and working conditions is inevitable. It is worth noting that many of the most prominent proponents of the inevitability of an increase in low-wage, precarious work in particular the giants of Silicon Valley are also strong advocates for a Basic Income Guarantee as they are hostile to unions and more generally any regulatory initiatives that would impinge upon their core business models.

The problem with this view is that regional labour markets are products more of politics and policy than of global macro-economic trends. And while it may be true that the general trend over the past 35 years has been policy changes that de-regulate the labour market, keep the minimum wage low and weaken unions, that has not always been the case. The fact is that the politics of labour market policy plays out in a particular time in a particular place and that there have been a number of exceptions to the general trend towards deregulated labour markets. Just looking at Canada, examples of significant initiatives towards the re-regulation of regional labour markets include Ontario in 1992, British Columbia in 1993, Alberta in 2017 and Ontario again in 2017. And Quebec has for decades maintained the strongest labour laws in North America.

In Ontario, the labour legislation passed in December, 2017 (Bill 148), certainly represented a modest tilt towards more regulation of the Ontario labour market that will result in at least some upward pressure on wages. The biggest win by far for advocates of higher wages for low-income workers was the aggressive approach to increasing the minimum wage which resulted in a $14/hr. minimum wageon January 1, 2018, and $15/hr. by January 1, 2019. Of course, the increase to $15/hr. from 14/hr. is in question should there be a PC victory in the June 7 Ontario provincial election.

While Bill 148 certainly included some important gains for Ontarios workers such as the minimum wage increase, it is increasingly clear that without some sort of sectoral, broader-based bargaining regime, Ontarios labour movement will have difficulty in reversing the downward trend in private sector, union density.

On this question, it was somewhat disappointing that the Changing Workplaces final recommendations failed to endorse some of the bolder sectoral bargaining options put forth in the interim report. Moreover, important recommendations that did make it into the final report such as the consolidation into a single bargaining unit of franchisees with the same employer in the same region were rejected by the government. This suggests that labour policies that move beyond the single employer, Wagner Act model, are encountering considerable resistance from both within and outside the government (i.e. the employer community).

That said,the fundamental analysis underlying the Changing Workplaces report and the overall direction of the subsequent legislation, strongly endorsed the view that the growth of low-wage, precarious work was bad for Ontario and that measures needed to be taken to begin to reverse these labour market trends.

This is a view also shared by the provincial Liberals and New Democrats.

BIG and Non-working, Low-income Ontarians

At this point, it would be possible to simply end the paper because once one declares BIG the wrong way to go in dealing with the challenges of the working poor, one essentially abandons the notion of a BIG. It is by definition a solution that applies to all those living in poverty whether they are working or not.

But to say that BIG is not the answer for the non-working poor begs the question as to what is.

It is therefore necessary to address the roughly 50% of BIG eligible participants that are not in the labour force many of which are receiving benefits through Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

To provide some narrative continuity, this article will maintain the same somewhat simplified structure in this part of the paper as was provided in the first part and assess a BIG as it would apply to the non-working poor against an obvious alternative option for improving their lot: namely the policy agendas advanced for decades in one form or another to bring the non-working poor above the poverty line through Employment Insurance reform, social assistance reform and related income support measures.

The first issue that jumps out when comparing the feasibility of a province-wide BIG relative to the social assistance and EI reform agendas that have been advanced for decades, is the huge cost of a province-wide BIG.

The Ontario BIG pilot project will reportedly cost the province $50 million per year and will provide basic income to approximately 4,000 people. An extrapolation from this in an attempt to calculate the cost of a province-wide roll out of BIG involves integrating so many interdependent variables, that even coming up with a cost within a broad band involves much speculation. But starting with the costs related to the top-ups of benefit levels for OW and ODSP (currently costing the Ontario treasury roughly $9 billion dollars) and then factoring in top-ups to EI recipients and low-income workers, it is hard not to come up with an annual net incremental cost of between $15 $20 billion dollars. And by net I mean taking into account potential efficiencies to be gained by implementing a BIG, such as administrative efficiencies and the alleviation of many of the indirect costs of poverty.

And there is only one way to finance an increase in net social spending of between $15 and $20 billion through a massive increase in Ontario provincial taxes.

Tax increases needed to roll out a BIG province-wide

Here are some numbers that suggest why such an increase is not politically feasible.

Ontarios current program spending totals $130 billion on tax revenues of roughly $95 billion.

Other non-tax sources of revenue come from federal transfers which Ontario has little control over, income from Government Business Enterprises, and other forms of non-tax revenues involving fees, etc. These revenue categories provide very little room for growth leaving the only real option to fund a BIG massive increases in the taxes that Ontario has control over.

However, when it comes to the all important provincial Personal Income and Corporate Income taxes, Ontario has control only in a limited sense in that it has no say over the base on which the provincial tax rates are levied. All deductions and exemptions related to the base are controlled by the federal government so on these taxes Ontario can only increase overall revenue by increasing provincial tax rates and reducing provincial tax credits.

On the HST, Ontario still has control over the provincial portion of the rate (currently 8%) but has lost much of the flexibility to apply an increase selectively that it had under its own Provincial Sales Tax (PST). This makes it harder to tailor a HST increase in a politically tactical way. And even when Ontario had more control over what goods and services were subject to its sales tax, an increase in the old PST was always a political hard sell.

Bottom line: the Personal Income Tax, the Corporate Income Tax, and the provincial portion of the HST account for $71 billion of Ontarios total tax revenue of $95 billion. And given that Ontario has no control over the corporate and personal income tax bases, the truth of the matter is that the only way to raise an additional $15 $20 billion to finance a BIG province-wide, is to implement huge rate increases in personal and corporate income tax rates along with a significant increase in the provincial portion of the HST. And this is simply not politically feasible.

Therefore, the danger is that if too many eggs are put into the Basic Income Guarantee basket and the government of the day comes to believe that it is a political necessity to push a BIG out the door province wide, we are very unlikely to get a benefit level that ensures that no one is in poverty (and supplementary programs are maintained) because the increase in taxes to do this would be politically unacceptable. In fact, we are more likely to get a small Universal Basic Income well below the poverty line combined with social program cuts because the initiative would be scaled back to fit politically feasible tax increases.

There is also a danger of the Basic Income project replacing (or at least stalling momentum on) other initiatives under way in Ontario that have similar goals to the Basic Income for the non-working poor but are much farther along in terms of working out the details and are more political feasible. These include the proposals contained in the Income Security Reform Working Groups report, Income Security: A Roadmap for Change.

At the federal level, there is also the danger that EI reform and efforts to significantly increase the Working Income Tax Credit might be undermined by the Basic Income albeit admittedly there does not appear to be a whole lot of momentum behind these initiatives.

An alternative policy agenda to ensure a living income for Ontarios working and non-working poor.

So, whats the alternative agenda if you have your doubts about BIG but believe government should commit to a living income for all?

Here is a partial policy agenda:

Conclusion

Incrementality in all its messiness and complexity is sometimes preferable to a silver bullet that solves all problems. The search for a silver bullet such as BIG to once and for all eliminate poverty and increase equality has its attractions, but it can undermine a set of practical and incremental initiatives where there is already momentum, where many of the details have already been worked out, and which represent substantial steps that taken together, move us closer to the long-term goal of a living income for all in Ontario.

Perhaps the BIG pilot projects will give us some useful information. There are a range of administration and integration issues that will have to be worked through that can be integrated into the agenda outlined above.

But the danger is that the BIG silver bullet approach to eliminating poverty will end up with a weaker social safety net, inadequate labour laws, and a Basic Income benefit that falls far short of ending poverty. This would largely reflect the fact that Ontarians are extremely unlikely to support the kind of tax increases that would have to be implemented to finance a province-wide BIG that would truly give all Ontarians a decent living wage.

In Ontario, much of the hard work of developing detailed policy options to reduce poverty has been completed or is well advanced and are detailed in a variety of recent reports (e.g. Changing Workplaces, Gender Wage Gapand Income Security: A Roadmap for Change). Of course, the extent to whichany future provincialgovernment will actually implement these policy options remains to be seen but the past year has certainly seen some modest progress in assisting low-income Ontarians. Whether that progress continues obviously depends upon the results of the June 7, Ontario election.

Social progress is always a long-term endeavor. And if incrementalism sometimes seems frustrating and the complexity of actual implementation sometimes seems overwhelming, the truth is that it has been ever thus. There really are no alternativesto improving the lot of low-income Ontarians andreducing inequality in this province.

These days, simple solutions are much more thedomain of those who want to hurt low-income Ontarians than to help them. For proof of that assertion simply Google Doug Ford.

Read this article:

Is a Basic Income Guarantee the Right Choice for Ontario?

Basic Income Canada Network

The2018North American Basic Income Guarantee (NABIG) Congress, held May 24-27 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was a BIG success!Titled “Basic Income: Bold Ideas, Practical Solutions for discussion of the idea of Basic Income,” the 17th Annual NABIG Congress wasthemed around (1) the converging paths leading to basic income (e.g., health, human rights, automation, sustainability, democracy, etc.); and (2) making basic income a reality, through pilots, policy, and public support. Approximately 275 people, from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Chile, the U.K., Germany, Portugal, Russia, and Australia attended, including approximately 120 people who presented on a wide range of topics. See the final Congress Programand keep watch here for posting (by end of June or early July) of finalized Congress presentations and links to video footage.

The annual NABIG Congress is organized by the Basic Income Canada Network and theU.S. Basic Income GuaranteeNetwork. The 2018 Congress was organized in collaboration with McMaster University, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Low Income Families Together (in Toronto), and otherpartners. Very special thanks are given to McMaster University for tremendous on-site logistical support, and to McMaster University, the LIUNA Enrico Henry Mancinelli Chair in Global Labour Issues, theHamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Deloitte Canada, the Hamilton Community Foundation, theSisters of Providence (Kingston, Ontario), and to a number of individuals for their very kind financial or in-kind support.

Continued here:

Basic Income Canada Network

Basic Income Guarantee – Your Right to Economic Security …

“This book is a great idea – brilliantly stated. Some may think it’s ultra-liberal, as they did when I proposed a similar idea in 1972. I see it as true conservatism – the right of income for all Americans sufficient for food, shelter, and basic necessities. Or, what Jefferson referred to as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” – U.S. Senator George McGovern, 1972 Democratic Party Presidential Candidate

“Sheahen and I are as far apart on political philosophy and the causes of the nation’s current mess as two people can be, but we both think that a basic income guarantee has to be part of the solution. That says something about the potential of this important idea whose time, as we both hope, is coming. Basic Income Guarantee will help make that happen.” – Charles Murray, author of In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State

“Basic Income Guarantee is a fascinating, lucid presentation of a complex subject. Sheahen asks and answers the questions of what a just society should and could do to overcome income insecurity. Given our prolonged economic malaise, everyone in America should be thinking about it.” – Theresa Funiciello, author of Tyranny of Kindness and head of Social Agenda

“Absent as an issue for almost fifty years, Allan Sheahen places the idea of a basic income for all Americans squarely back on the national agenda. In plain English, this radical idea is not only clearly explained but answers even the toughest objections that can be raised. This book should make sense even to my most dysfunctional colleagues in Congress.” – Bob Filner, U.S. Congressman of San Diego and former chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee

Originally posted here:

Basic Income Guarantee – Your Right to Economic Security …