by AJ Withers and John Clarke
Disabled people in Ontario are much more likely to experience poverty than non-disabled people. Many have to live on sub poverty payments under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or the even more wretched income provided by Ontario Works (OW). Those that are in this situation are confronted by an ongoing process of surveillance, invasion of their privacy and moral policing. Those disabled people who are working, because of systemic discrimination, are less likely to be receiving living wages and are far more likely to be precariously employed. As anti poverty organizers, we fully understand the anger and desperation that such a situation generates.
On this basis, it is easy to see how, at first glance, there are aspects of a Basic Income (BI) approach that could be found attractive by disabled people. The promise of a somewhat higher payment, provided without the kind of intrusive element that presently exists, would seem to represent a step forward. However, we think it’s important to ask why the Liberal Government would suddenly support a new approach that would mean considerably increased costs. Why would a Government that has driven down the adequacy of benefit rates and cut programs for disabled people want to reverse course so dramatically? BI can look very alluring but we are convinced that, In reality, it will mean a degrading of the already inadequate ‘social safety net’ that will make things dramatically worse for disabled people. Continue reading
The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been championed by both progressives and conservatives. Not everyone on the left, however, is behind the idea. Is the UBI a means of redistributing wealth, attacking poverty and protecting workers from technological displacement? Or will basic income serve to advance an agenda of austerity and privatization?
Join us on April 13th as we begin to debate these important questions. The debate will feature two speakers speaking in favour of the left support for Basic Income and two against.
John Clarke, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
Josephine Grey, Low Income Families Together (LIFT)
Jessica Sikora, OPSEU Local 586
Guy Caron, MP (NDP) and Federal Leadership Candidate
Moderator: Avi Lewis, The Leap
Opening remarks: Kikélola Roach, Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice & Democracy, Ryerson University
In the spirit of The Leap Manifesto’s call for ‘vigorous debate about the introduction of a universal basic income,’ this interactive event is for anyone trying to figure out whether basic income should be a priority demand for progressives.
Hosted in partnership with: OCAP, OPIRG-Toronto, OPSEU Local 586, Ryerson Centre for Policy Innovation and Public Engagement, The Leap, Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy.