Under Ontario’s new Putting Consumers First Act the Province will deliver very weak changes to payday loan regulations. It will reduce interest charges on a $100-dollar loan by a whopping 3 points to 18% (from 21%) for a 14-day loan. They will also give you more time to pay it back and oblige you to wait longer before you can get another loan. This amounts to no real change at all and it gives the usury industry the colour of right. Neo-liberal incremental change doesn’t do the job.
It is vitally important to keep up the call for a living wage because, with the hint of a Basic Guaranteed Income (ON will start a pilot project soon), comes the temptation to let the government pay to eliminate poverty. In other words, BIG will become a public subsidy for private profit.
Electoral Reform. My submission had one main purpose: to prevent Mr Miller from claiming that everyone in this riding wanted to keep first past the post. That was the result he obtained from his own ‘consultation’ – a one-hour phone-in ‘town hall.’ No one on that call said they wanted change, but then no one with contrary opinions and who dialled in got a chance to speak. In two subsequent public meetings (one in Paisley and another in Owen Sound) all but one person said they did not want to keep first past the post. Most opted for proportional representation of some sort. You can view the submission to the federal government’s Committee on Electoral Reform on our website, or click here.
Karen Gventer (our Secretary) who was also waiting to be heard during Mr Miller’s ‘town hall’ wrote the media about that consultation which helped prompt a rather weak public response from the MP. Her letter was an important signal to the media that Mr Miller’s view does not always reflect his constituency. Letters to the editor help. The next time something outrages you, write a letter and send a copy to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Affordable Housing. We responded to another federal consultation, this one on the future of public housing. There are a lot of good people with a great deal of expertise among BGOS NDP members and we tapped a couple for this exercise. Jacquie Schwan is a former Executive Director of Supportive Housing for Toronto and then Grey-Bruce. Gord Lawson, a contractor and home builder in the Bruce Peninsula, has a passion for inexpensive, but environmentally sound housing. And myself, a former member of the Board of Directors for Main-Gerrard Co-op in Toronto.
We pooled our combined 70 years of housing experience to come up with 7 recommendations. In a nutshell we argued for sustained funding from all levels of government and that governments should build co-op housing in fairly dense areas (eg, Hanover, Owen Sound, Meaford) but small, energy-efficient single units in rural areas. You can access our 14-page submission from the www.gos-ndp.ca website or by clicking here.
Trans-Pacific Partnership. The federal government held a long public consultation on this trade agreement. Our submission to the House Committee on International Trade focussed on Chapters 18 and 26 of the TPP – Intellectual Property (IP) and Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions. We agree with Jim Balsillie, the creator of the Blackberry, that Canada is not prepared to take innovative ideas into an international marketplace. We also discovered that Canada has not fared well in trade disputes and we give some examples of that.
We are not anti-trade; but we do want to maintain Canadian sovereignty from the threat of corporate trade suits. And we do not see any real economic advantage in the TPP. Our conclusion:
Given that our manufacturing sector remains sluggish in spite of our low dollar and the US recovery, this pivot [from trade agreements to building our own innovative economy] becomes even more important if the current government wants to get its own population back into well-paying jobs.
The first step in this process would be to refuse to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The second step would be for the federal government to create an ecosystem in which Canadian innovation can mature and bear fruit.
Check out our evidence and reasoning by clicking here.