Can we end poverty in Canada?

by Aaron Wherry

The Agenda considers poverty and Senator Hugh Segal’s proposal of a guaranteed annual income.




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Can we end poverty in Canada?

  1. I always liked Hugh Segal. You can really tell he is a PC from his comment on civil servants.

    • I guess the emphasis on evidence based policy is a dead give away that there is a P before his C as well.

      • Great points Stewart (as usual). btw Does not Hugh Segal justify the existence of the Senate by actually proposing an evidence-based solution to an important problem?

        • This idea didn’t come out of the senate. Little, if anything comes out of the senate that justifies its existence. It has been polluted with patronage appointments since Confederation. If we had Instant Runoff Voting that ensured MPs actually represented their constituents, we could put them to work in Parliamentary committees to take on the workload that is wasted in the partisan senate. Then we can get rid of the senate and all the failed politicians at the public trough.

      • +1

        It’s the CPC’s denial of empiricism that drives me up the wall and down another.

        • wow, you put your P before your C as well…

      • Segal’s plan is still very ideological: any government involvement in the economy is bad; a generalized supplement is better because it has no bureaucrats administering it. But this would mean that people who pay into EI would get the same benefits as a person on welfare.

        I find that society and the economy are complex and simplistic solutions don’t work because the doctrine behind them utterly fails to describe the system they intent to “fix.”

        A real solution would be to rejig our public benefits system (especially now that after 3 decades of free-market reforms there are little private benefits left.) Our healthcare system is about 70% public and 30% private. Prescriptions, eye care and dental are basically private. So it would be better to take some of the public health care and downgrade it to two-tier (basic coverage) and upgrade prescription, eye-care and dental to two-tier. When people have basic benefits covered, they have more disposable income, which pumps more money into the economy.

        Welfare should focus its resources on getting people jobs who want jobs. That takes workers to get involved with people on a personal basis because people have different barriers to employment.

        In short, there is nothing wrong with the current system, just the way its balanced and administered. There is no magical fix-all just like there is no easy fix to squeeze more transistors on a computer chip: sometimes we need complex engineering solutions because the problems are complex.

  2. Canada already has a guaranteed annual income. It’s called welfare.

    • No we don’t

      We have 13 different provincial versions of ‘welfare’ and then all the city ones…..and they are about food, housing, clothing, transportation etc….a lot of different things, right in the same place.

      We need ONE version…all across Canada to get rid of the crazy quilt of versions

      The PC govt of Mulroney called the solution GAI….Guaranteed Annual Income….

      • This GAI plan sounds like a simple ideological solution to a complex problem.

        For one, there is no accountability. When a person applies for welfare they have to give an account of themselves to social workers — i.e. their particular circumstances for why they can’t find employment. If people have a guaranteed income, they could sit around collecting money with no incentive to find employment. This sounds like an neo-con agenda-driven scheme to destroy the social safety net.

        The reality is different people have different barriers to employment. The employer interview process is tailored to weed out people with psychological problems for one. So that is a major barrier to long-term welfare recipients. Then there are single mothers with deadbeat fathers of their children. They need a different solution to help they gain employment. (Government daycare for one.) Many people are only on welfare for a short-term bump in the road.

        Some of the barriers have come out in a recent report. Recipients should be allowed to keep more of their assets and the money they earn from part time employment. People should be allowed to enroll in business college while collecting welfare, which will help them get good paying jobs. The government should regulate business colleges which are gouging students (maxing out student loans) and provide more government college courses with a greater online component to boost education productivity (reducing costs to students.)

        In short, there are no easy answers. But the evidence suggests we need more government and more front-line social workers to sort out the particular needs of people who have to rely on welfare.

        • Is there some reason you keep giving me political speeches?

          Because I have no interest whatever in your ideology.

          • Try dictionary.com and type in “ideology”…

            If you give an opinion be prepared for someone to offer a contrary one… (Of course, I could use a little concision in my rants… ;)

          • Try the same site, and type in civility and logic

            I didn’t give an opinion….I explained what GAI was under Mulroney….I didn’t ask for a lecture, an ideology or an argument in return.

          • It doesn’t matter what you asked for. When you post an opinion, you ask for it…

          • Nobody asked for your little NDP lecture, no matter what you think. And I for one am tired of hearing it. Sorry.

          • Actually, I’m a centrist liberal. Last time I checked, the Liberal party didn’t support tearing down the post-war welfare state. If they did, they aren’t centrist liberals…

            BTW, a well-supported argument is far from a lecture… But I can see why you might tire from having your position decimated…

          • Actually you don’t get to decide who’s a centrist

            And a well-supported argument is fine…when one is called for.

            I didn’t do so tho…..so enough with the silliness.

          • Anti-democratic-gubment ideology is right-of-center or right-wing. I didn’t decide that. It’s how the economic spectrum is defined…

          • We don’t have a welfare state. We are ‘third way’.

            In any case, I simply stated what GAI was, and why people wanted it. My preference is that people get a job.

            On the whole I’m not interested in our antique economic system at all, and would prefer that we move on.

          • There are fewer and fewer jobs. Look into the concept of a Basic Living Allowance. It makes sense.

          • That’s what GAI is….Guaranteed Annual Income.

          • That’s funny Ron, I thought in another post you described yourself as a “leftist”. I wish you’d get your story straight.

          • I never described myself as a leftist. I always support the Keynesian economic system which is in the political center (used in North America in the post-war era.)

    • Out of curiosity, did you watch the video?

      • That’s a much more polite way to say what I was thinking. Kudos.

        • Heh.

          I like Paikin’s show; there’s toing and froing, guests get (and take) the opportunity to clarify, to add nuance. Almost like normal people having a discussion.

          But it seems that that kind of show isn’t for everyone. :-)

    • Not so. Doesn’t work effectivily.

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