Wayne Lewchulk: “We could use [basic income] as an opportunity to discover the potential of humans”
Wayne Lewchulk. Picture credit to: The Halmilton Spectator
“This isn’t your grandparents’ labour market”. Wayne Lewchulk, a professor at the McMaster University and specialist in labour markets, precarious employment and health, says it crystal clear on an interview given on May 24th 2018.
Lewchulk, who has been teaching labour issues for more than 35 years, is completely aware that his stable job as a professor at McMaster is becoming the exception, rather than the norm. This is aligned with the line of reasoning professor and writer Guy Standing also advocates in his latest book on the subject. As a Canadian, and resident in Hamilton, Ontario, he is a co-founder of the Poverty and Economic Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO) project, which joints with the McMaster University and more than other 30 universities, community organizations, labour unions, government and media outlets, to advance research and policy debate around labour and particularly precarious employment.
Lewchulk has also helped to organize the latest North America Basic Income Guarantee Congress, this year hosted at McMaster University. He has also been influential at the Ontario Basic Income pilot project, as a member of the evaluation panel. Even though this pilot project is not quite a basic income as far as the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) definition goes, it may still be an important step towards a real implementation in Canada.
Despite a rise in employment in the last decade, in Canada, this has been mostly for part-time, Uber and Mechanical Turk style kind of employment. These forms of employment, Lewchulk explains, are very insecure, limiting workers ability to “form relationships or settle in one spot, let alone buy a house”. That also means lack of labour benefits, which can mean less health-related coverage. More employment with less money will also mean less opportunities for children, since parents cannot afford development activities for them. Moreover, expenses with gaining qualifications and learning throughout life also diminish. Capital and business owners have been, successfully, passing on labour costs to workers themselves, as technology and economic change agitate and deteriorate working conditions worldwide.
Asked about technological disruption, however, Wayne Lewchulk remains optimistic: “I think it’d be fantastic to have machinery doing a lot of the things we do, so we could focus on the things that we let fall by the wayside right now: being good to each other; creating art; spending time with our families”. According to him, basic income can be a powerful instrument to attain this goal, “but we have to figure out how to pay for it”.
More information at:
Sonia Verma, “This isn’t your grandparents’ job market”, McMaster University Brighter World, May 24th 2018
Guy Standing, “The Precariat – The new dangerous class”, Bloomsburry Ed. 2011
Sara Bizarro, “Canada: NABIG Congress 2018 in Hamilton, Ontario”, Basic Income News, June 6th 2018
André Coelho, “CANADA: Quebec is implementing a means-tested benefit, not a basic income”, Basic Income News, January 24th 2018