Roundup: Ontario’s “basic income” scheme a bit suspect

The province of Ontario decided that it was going ahead with a three-year pilot project around basic incomes in three municipalities around the province – Hamilton, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay, each testing different circumstances and local conditions. But there are problems with the way this is all designed, which Kevin Milligan (who has been studying this issue) outlines:

In other words, this isn’t really basic income, which makes it all that much harder to actually evaluate its efficacy, and if it’s not displacing existing welfare or benefit programmes, then it’s not really recouping those costs which makes this hideously expensive. And that’s really been the biggest problem with basic income proposals – the cost. While the idea is that they would displace current benefit programmes, there is less money to be had in cutting the red tape and bureaucracy than one might think, and I’m pretty sure that Bill Gates’ idea of taxing robots to pay for basic income for the workers they displace isn’t really feasible either.

Oh, and then there are the political considerations.

With an election not too far off in this province, we’ve seen a few moves by this government to try and out-left the NDP in places, hoping to cobble together the same sort of winning voter base that they managed to in their last election, and which their federal counterparts similarly managed in 2015. While I get the merits of basic income, I remain dubious of its feasibility, especially when this pilot project appears to be so poorly designed. But then again, I’m not an economist.

Good reads:

  • Unless something miraculous happens, it looks like the Trumpocalypse will impose a 20 percent tariff on Canadian softwood imports.
  • Incidentally, we’re pursuing lumber trade agreements with China fairly vigorously.
  • The Canadian Judicial Council will investigate Vic Toews (now a Superior Court justice in Manitoba) after he was found guilty of Conflict of Interest breaches.
  • It could be months before the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner reports back on the PM’s Xmas holidays.
  • Former Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers feared for his job as Ambassador to Ireland after his scuffle with a protester.
  • Dutch princess Margaret – who was born in Ottawa during WWII – is coming to Canada on tour, but won’t be visiting her birthplace.
  • Arctic temperatures are rising higher and faster than expected.
  • Scott Gilmore held the first of his dinners in Halifax hearing from other conservatives disgruntled with the Conservative Party and heard what they had to say.
  • The Conservative Party won’t launch an independent investigation into those fraudulent membership sales.
  • Kellie Leitch says that illegal border crossers should be deported immediately, because international agreements including the Geneva Conventions are nothing.
  • Pat Strogran entering into the NDP leadership race will likely shake up its extreme collegiality (which may not be a bad thing).
  • Andrew Leach takes on the celebrity environmentalists condemning Justin Trudeau to task for making perfection the enemy of the good.
  • More hot takes on the French election from Chantal Hébert and Colby Cosh.
  • Paul Wells gives his analysis of the current softwood imbroglio.

Odds and ends:

Tristin Hopper collected a number of interesting Canadian historical factoids about impacts we had on other countries.

Justin Trudeau apparently is engaging in “cupping” nonsense treatments.

In the Law Times, I wrote about the genetic privacy bill’s forthcoming reference to the Supreme Court of Canada.