Robots and penniless humans: Basic Income has become an imperative

By Rob Rainer

We are at the dawn of a new era of technology without parallel in history. Along with it, concern is rising that automation of all kinds, being developed at exponential rates, will displace labour on an unprecedented scale.

For example, a 2013 study out of Oxford University predicted that automation will cause 47 percent of the jobs in the U.S. to disappear within 20 years. We are talking about not only the work that’s been called “the dull, dirty, and dangerous,” which some believe should be handled by robots. Rather, we are talking about work of creative skill too, or requiring significant analytical power.

Our machines can now write prose, with a prediction that by 2030, 90 percent of journalistic writing will be done by computers. Our machines can compose music. They can even do things as delicate as administering anaesthesia or performing unassisted surgery. 

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Refundable tax credits and the path to a basic income guarantee

By Robin Boadway

The pursuit of a basic income guarantee (BIG) is gathering momentum, but much of the emphasis has been on setting up pilot projects.

This is fair enough given that implementation of a full-fledged BIG is a major undertaking. But, approaching BIG using pilot projects alone would be unfortunate. Pilots take time, and by focusing on the response of project participants they are unlikely to give a comprehensive account of BIG, which of necessity would involve significant reform of existing tax-transfer systems. A two-track approach could move incrementally in the direction of BIG. It would involve exploiting refundable tax credits in new and innovative directions.

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Don’t let Ontario basic income pilot gather dust

By Carter Vance

The problem of poverty – a deprivation among plenty — has blighted Ontario since our province’s beginnings, and has remained one of the more intractable problems of public policy.

Poverty’s reach continues to impair hundreds of thousands of individuals, families and children. Recent evidence has suggested that, despite government spending commitments and some improvements in certain indicators, poverty is becoming increasingly concentrated by neighbourhood and increasingly intergenerational, with fewer “ladders of opportunity” for poverty’s exit.

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A new voice for labour in a world of precarious work

By Sara Mojtehedzadeh

The Toronto Star

There’s no easy way to summarize what 26-year-old Joan Lillian Wilson does for a living, other than to say it involves a lot of slashes: graphic designer/photographer/activist. Part-time/contract/volunteer. No union/benefits/pension.

Sound familiar? Then you, too, might be a part of the city’s invisible workforce. It’s composed of independent contractors, part-time employees, self-employed entrepreneurs, and creative types — a hitherto disparate group that Toronto activists are now seeking to unite. 

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Robert-Falcon Ouellette’s petition to study basic income marked by his own childhood

By Roderick Benns

As a youth growing up in Calgary, Robert-Falcon Ouellette remembers being inspired by the 1988 Olympics. Ouellette’s parents struggled financially, and his father was in and out of the picture. But his mother managed enough money so he could enjoy swimming at the City pool where he took to the water “like a fish.”

“I was there as much as possible – I just loved every minute of it,” says Ouellette, who is now Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre.

“Until one day a coach spotted me and invited me to join the University of Calgary swim team.”

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Unpredictable employment spreads to white-collar jobs once considered realms of stability

The Canadian Press (CBC News)

They're part-time employees without health benefits or pensions who work split shifts at a number of different locations each week. From one paycheque to the next, their income fluctuates, as do their hours.

These aren't workers hustling behind fast-food counters or holding down other McJobs. They're aspiring librarians, often with at least one master's degree.

A university degree is not a get-out-of-jail-free card from the perils of insecure employment. Precarious work, often associated with service-sector jobs, is spreading to jobs that were once considered realms of stable employment with benefits and pensions to boot.

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Small business would benefit under Basic Income: Sylvain Henry

Roderick Benns recently interviewed Sylvain Henry, a trained biochemist, inventor, and recruiter who is trying to create new opportunities for the Canadian business community with his 10-week ‘business trek.’

Benns: Tell us a little about your business trek.

Henry: Businesstrek is a 10-week bus trek across Canada to “blaze a trail for business tourism” that will boost the Canadian economy from the ground up. The primary goal of the trek is to discover, attract and create new opportunities for Canadian businesses and individuals, and then share this bounty online and during these travels.

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