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Canada: Senator Hugh Segal on basic income and unemployment insurance

In a column for the Canadian daily newspaper National Post (June 10, 2012), long-time basic income advocate and Conservative Senator from Ontario Hugh Segal writes:

(…) It is reasonable to have an employment insurance system, funded by contributions from Canadian workers, that provides a financial bridge to those who have lost their jobs and cannot immediately find a replacement. When mildly tightening the eligibility to those who really cannot find work is controversial, however, this shows that EI stands for Extra Income, not Employment Insurance. That the income may be vital to communities, regions and lifestyles tied to seasonal jobs is not in question. But such a system is no longer insurance. It is a basic income floor unrelated to whether or when work was available.

(…) Except for Newfoundland and Labrador, all provinces pay welfare rates well beneath the poverty line, helping to feed the costly pathologies of poverty that fill our hospitals, our homeless shelters, our prisons and the tragedies of family violence and substance abuse. A frank discussion about income security, poverty and the kind of income floor that could obviate other programs that are unbalanced, expensive to operate, wasteful and disconnected from reality, is long overdue.

Full opinion piece is at:

About Yannick Vanderborght

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One comment

  • Doris Edwards

    I find it deeply concerning and scary that it’s a Conservative Senator from Ontario; Hugh Segal, that is in charge of the ‘Basic Income’ decision/s. I don’t trust that he will have the best interest of Ontario at heart in the least. What will be hidden in clauses? It was Conservative Brian Mulroney who made a tragic 75% cut to Social Services in 1985, while adding a supposed ‘temporary’ GST tax that is still in place today. Then, we have Conservative Mike Harris who made yet another cut of 22% to Ontario Social Services in 1995, while implementing ‘Ontario Works’. This was a direct attack on the most vulnerable and impoverished in society. People have suffered greatly, -lost their homes which were no longer affordable, -ate miniminally and extremely poorly to survive, -succumbed to poor health, some even committed suicide because of the poor mental health it created. And, now people are asked to trust the perpetrating party who created this horrific mess to be in charge of creating a new Basic Income? For 31 years people have been struggling horrifically on levels that the middle and high class can never comprehend, and for which the Conservatives created and Liberal party have turned a blind eye and deaf ears to the pleas of the impoverished. Having a Conservative involved in the decision making of the Basic Income, is likened to someone in desperate need of a babysitter, and a child rapist is being sent to babysit.

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