The Basic Income consultation merry-go-round grinds to a halt. What happens next?
An emergency resolution to immediately raise social rates for everyone to the levels recommended by Senator Hugh Segal received overwhelming support at consultations held in communities across Ontario. The image below shows news headlines typical in many of the communities where consultations were held.
The upcoming budget will reveal whether Premier Wynne’s government will respond to this powerful demand and raise the rates in this last budget before the next election.
An article on Basic Income by Rebecca Fortin is printed in Quartz Magazine (See here.)
It includes this critique:
“Critics say testing basic income puts off meaningful action to address poverty. Karl Widerquist, associate professor in political philosophy and an economist at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, says the danger is in giving the Ontario government an excuse to put off more expensive policy changes, like addressing the inadequacy of social welfare rates or raising the minimum wage. Similarly, David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, is concerned that if it truly becomes universal, the resulting price tag would force the government to cut other social programs to compensate. (The Ontario government has committed to the pilot in their budget but exact costs and where the money will come from have yet to be sorted out.)
Others don’t trust the government to succeed in implementing a basic income, given its track record: two earlier poverty-reduction strategies, which both proposed far-reaching structural reforms, have changed nothing, says Mike Balkwill who represents anti-poverty groups in Ontario, including a campaign called Put Food in the Budget. “This government really hasn’t done anything for people in deep poverty,” says Balkwill. The moves towards a basic income are just another “consultation merry-go-round.”
Instead of waiting around another three years to see the results of a pilot, he and other anti-poverty advocates are calling for an immediate raise to existing social assistance rates in the province to provide some relief for poor people.”
Put Food in the Budget