Progressive Conservative MPP, Julia Munro, says the very nature of work is changing so rapidly that societies are having difficulty figuring out how to respond.
Munro, who is the PC critic for the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, says the “nature of work has changed so much.”
“Everything has always been pinned on our work – our employment. It’s the way we have defined ourselves for so long,” she says.
She suggests the rise in at least some of the mental health problems that have been occurring is because of a lack of occupational identity.
“These foundational concepts are in question now,” says Munro.
While acknowledging the starkly different employment landscape, the PC critic says it’s too early to decide definitively if the creation of a basic income guarantee is the way to go.
“It’s possible that a basic income could help. But my view is that we need to look at it in tandem with things like better matching education with available good jobs.”
Munro gives the Ontario government credit for their consultation process on basic income, happening now across the province. She says it has been a “helpful way” for people to get an idea of what others are thinking. Once the government has heard from Ontarians, the plan is to announce more details about the province’s basic income pilot in April.
“Basic income is thought provoking. It’s something to keep in mind, given all the societal changes,” she says.
Munro had already attended one consultation session and was headed to another one in London on Tuesday.
She says one common theme she has noticed is that “younger people don’t have the same feeling towards a job as people have had in past generations.”
“It’s a common thread. They know they won’t be in the same job forever,” as members of past generations were.
Munro says a recent poll by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reveals that when they asked their members if they supported pursuing a minimum income guarantee, 71 percent said no.
She shares this to illustrate that it’s important to “look at what everyone’s saying” before committing to one direction.
The PC MPP believes the government has a huge undertaking in front of them in simply figuring out where to locate the pilots. Retired Conservative Senator, Hugh Segal, who wrote a report on basic income to offer guidance to the government, suggests a saturation site in southern Ontario, one in northern Ontario, and one in an indigenous community.
She says figuring out which specific communities will be difficult, as will be figuring out how to conduct a control group.
As for party support for basic income, Munro says the PCs are “interested and open to hear about what comes out of the consultation process” and will be more prepared to comment in the spring, after the government releases more details.
Munro says two of the most important questions for governments to answer is ‘what are the jobs of the future and how will they be filled,’ as well as ‘are our students getting what they need to move in that direction?’
The MPP represents the riding of York-Simcoe where there is a mix of runaway construction and affluence, along with pockets of poverty, including a youth shelter.