These CEOs Want Basic Income

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was elected earlier this year and already started implementing his plan to increase inequality in the province. Obviously, this is a bad a plan. One of the things Ford cancelled thus far was the basic income pilot program which was praised around the world, and before the study showed results Ford axed. As a response to this stupidity, CEOs have responded by demanding that the basic income pilot continue and that the concept of basic income needs support. The good thing here is that CEOs are openly supporting basic income despite the “pro-business” Ontario government stopping the basic income test.

Here’s part of the open letter from CEOs to Doug Ford:

As Canadian business leaders, we urge the Ontario government to continue the Ontario basic income pilot. We see a guaranteed basic income as a business-friendly approach to address the increasing financial precarity of our citizens and revitalize the economy.

It is urgent that we let this pilot run because we see basic income as part of a solution that could help Canadians stay competitive in the face of:

Accelerating technological job displacement due to advances in automation, software, and AI1
Globalization of jobs which has gone beyond manufacturing and textiles to entry and mid-level information work2
The ongoing transition of work to part time, contract, and gig-work3
Winner takes all markets where companies such as Amazon are absorbing greater shares of economic activity4
These global trends are causing structural changes to the economy that are depressing wages,5 reducing the number of middle class jobs available to Canadians, and affecting a decline in entrepreneurship.6

Read more (and see the citations).

A Living Wage Makes for a Good Business Plan

work and smile

Helmi Ansari started a successful business and understands what’s it like to worry about paying the bills – and knows that when you’re stressed about paying bills you’re not focussed at the job at hand. This is why he pays all of his employees a living wage. A living wage is usually higher than minimum wage (min. wage is basically your boss saying they wouldn’t pay you anything but the law says they must) and scales based on location and cost of living from year to year. Indeed, Ansari says he owes the success of his company to his committed employees.

He’s such a believer in living wage that he founded the Better Way Alliance to pressure the government and other companies to pay a living wage. The alliance has quite a few member companies already, including a business school and a brewery!

The message from this group of leaders is simple: being good is good for the bottom line.

“If our staff is focused on how they’re going to put food on the table and how they’re going to pay the hydro bill, they are not going to be really engaged in the business,” Ansari says.

His company, which employs a dozen people, became the first multi-site business in Ontario to pay a living wage — the hourly sum a worker needs to earn to support a family above the poverty line, given the actual costs of living in a specific area. Ansari pays all his Cambridge staff and contractors over $16.05 an hour, while the minimum rate for his Guelph employees is $16.50.

Ontario’s minimum wage is currently set at $11.40, a figure workers’ rights and anti-poverty activists like the Fight for $15 Coalition say is too low to keep families afloat. The Star has also profiled the impact of precarious work on issues like mental health.

Read more.

Ontario Adopts $8.3 Billion Climate Change Plan

Climate change is the biggest threat to human wellbeing and if we don’t do anything about it’s inevitable that society as we know it will collapse. This is why nations around the world are acting to change their policies and support things like renewable energy and better water conservation. There are so many minor changes that can add up to big change, and that’s what Ontario as set out to do.

The province of Ontario has announced a $8.3 billion climate change action plan that will reduce waste and encourage people who drive to switch to less damaging vehicles. It’s being praised by all sides of the province.

Patrick DeRochie of Environmental Defence called the Liberals’ plan “a very positive development in climate action.”

Greenpeace said Ontario is on the right track by trying to phase out fossil fuels and encourage construction of “net zero” carbon homes, and by recognizing that climate change is an opportunity as well as a threat.

“Lots of bad things will happen if we don’t break our addiction to fossil fuels, but there are also a lot of good things — green jobs, cleaner air — that come with action on climate change,” said Greenpeace Canada spokesman Keith Stewart.

Read more.

Ontario Converting Coal Plant to Solar Farm

A few years ago Ontario stopped all of its coal powered plants because, you know, climate change and all that. Other jurisdictions around the world are similarly halting the use of coal for energy production. In Ontario, an old coal plant with a lot of land around it will reopen, but be emissions free.

The former coal plant is being converted into a solar farm!

“This project is a great example of how countries are retiring coal plants and replacing them with clean, renewable power plants,” she added.

And while the new 44 MW solar plant will produce a fraction of the enormous output of the former coal plant, the emissions-free energy will contribute to Ontario’s commitment to building a clean economy.

Prior to being idled, the Nanticoke Generating Station was Canada’s top polluter. Coal generation in Ontario is also widely regarded as one of the main culprits behind the province’s smog. Ontario completed its coal phase-out in 2014, and the number of smog days in the province declined from 53 in 2005 to zero in 2015.

Read more.

Ontario to Test Basic Income

Basic income is the idea that people will have enough money to live (food and shelter) regardless of their employment status. Manitoba tried this decades ago and it worked, but was cancelled for political reasons. A basic income is needed now more than ever since robots are going to take all the jobs. Plus, inequality is growing at an alarming rate and we need policies that help stymie this growing disparity in wealth.

Let’s hope this trial run in Ontario is another success!

The general concept is that the government would ensure that all citizens have enough income to cover basic needs. One option for such a program is for the government to set a basic amount, such as $18,000 a year, and people whose income is less could receive payments to bring them up to that level.

“We will be testing the potential of a basic income to determine if it will provide more consistent support to clients, streamline the delivery of income support, and achieve savings in other areas, such as health and housing supports,” Ms. Jaczek said.

Read more.

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