Precarious Work - Fair's Fair
The Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound NDP are holding “café conversations” on the risk of low wage, part-time and temporary work to families and communities. We ask the owners of a café if they would like to host an open meeting and, if they do, we provide a speaker who can take people through what precarious work is, the problems that income inequality are causing, and what we can do about it.
Precarious Work—Fair’s Fair
We find this is an excellent way to reach people and to support local businesses in the riding. If you would like to arrange for a session for a café near you, or if you own a café and would like to host a public meeting, contact David McLaren at email@example.com.
What harm does Precarious Work do? When someone is in a low wage, part-time or temporary job, they may not be making enough money to meet their needs. This is especially a problem for families. It means people might have to take 2 or even 3 jobs to get by. That’s a lot of stress and that stress complicates life and may lead to health problems.
For communities, it means food banks, social services and affordable housing must pick up the slack. In Grey-Bruce Owen Sound, hundreds are on the waiting list for affordable housing. Food banks are being used steadily all year round. Health services are being stretched.
For societies, precarious work is a leading cause of inequality. The income gap between rich and poor in Canada is among the highest in the developed world (6th highest of 17 countries: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/society/income-inequality.aspx).
Unemployment in Canada is still increasing four years after the end of the Recession. Canada has one of the highest rates of poverty among working-age people (http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/society/working-age-poverty.aspx).
The United Way of Bruce-Grey has calculated the living wage for this area of Ontario to be $15.25 and hour. But the Liberal Government in Ontario recently raised the minimum wage only 75¢ an hour to $11.00. That’s not nearly enough.
Social research clearly demonstrates a link between income inequality and social problems such as teen pregnancy, obesity, lack of public trust, mental illness, diminished social mobility. (http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/about-inequality and http://www.thecanadianfacts.org/)
What can we do about Precarious Work?
Here are some ideas we’ve discussed at our café conversations …
Raise the minimum wage for everyone, but make it revenue neutral for small business (like cafés) that cannot pay higher wages. Research shows that a modest increase in the minimum wage has no effect on overall employment. (http://www.cepr.net/index.php/)
Raise corporate income taxes for large companies. There is no evidence that lowering corporate tax rates create jobs. In fact the Harvard Business Review reports that a 10% increase in corporate taxes leads to a 2.1% drop in the unemployment rate. (http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/corporate-tax-cuts-not-delivering-job-creation and http://pfr.sagepub.com/content/39/6/743)
Resist fettering unions. Unions have been an important part of the capitalist system for over 100 years. They are one of the most effective ways of redistributing wealth. Unions were strongest during the most economically stable times of the last Century. The following chart tracks inequality and union membership. You can see how higher union membership rates corresponds with equality in society. Conservative and Liberal attacks on unions and efforts to impose right-to-work legislation are economically counterproductive in the long run. http://www.nationofchange.org/one-video-and-three-charts-explains-why-unions-matter-1378220403
Resist austerity. Austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund on Greece and other countries have backfired. Governments have shed jobs, wages are frozen and their economies have slowed. People without money cannot buy anything, yet 60% of the Canadian economy depends on consumers being able to purchase goods and services. The creeping austerity of the Conservative Government in Ottawa is slowing recovery and exacerbating inequality. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/austerity-failure-1-chart_n_3639674.html?ir=Business&utm_campaign=072313&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-business&utm_content=Title
Redistribute wealth with tax reform. Some 80% of Canadians favour raising taxes on large corporations and the wealthy. In fact the tax rate on our highest earners used to be around 75%, and that was when the economy was working. The Reagan era “trickle down” theory has proven to be not only false policy but bad economics. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jared-bernstein/the-economic-impact-of-ra_b_1453008.html
Move subsidies from foreign-owned gas and oil to domestic manufacturing. Canada ’s high petro-dollar has hurt our manufacturers. Now that the dollar is slipping, the time is ripe to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector. Both our oil and the profits made from out oil are flowing out of Canada . It’s time we invested in our own people. http://ecoopportunity.net/2013/04/fossil-fuel-subsidies-nearly-800-per-canadian-says-the-imf/
Spark innovation by “encouraging” companies to use their dead money. Corporations, still cautious from the Recession, are sitting on billions of dollars that are not being put to work. This “dead money” needs to be invested in jobs. Government should tell wealthy companies to use it or lose it. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/free-up-dead-money-carney-exhorts-corporate-canada/article4493091/)