By Joey Edwardh and Peter Clutterbuck
The Occupy Movement put poverty and income inequality on the public agenda in 2011, and since then public debate on a number of policy fronts has emerged with living and minimum wage campaigns, renewed poverty reduction plans, and a basic income guarantee (BIG) for everyone. On the basic income idea, the Ontario Government has committed to pilot test a “mincome project”.
Reducing both poverty and inequality is a complex undertaking, and creating a coherent policy package out of the mix of proposals under consideration is a daunting challenge. As critical as it is, testing only basic income may discount the importance of other considerations in creating a more equitable, just and inclusive society.
It is best to start with the desirable outcomes of restructuring our social and economic security system. We would argue that these outcomes are security, stability, and dignity for all Canadians. While an adequate basic income guarantee would contribute to these ends, the emphasis on the role of this income transfer to individuals tends to overshadow the critical importance of other pillars of a supportive policy framework.
Marvyn Novick, a leading thinker and contributor to the social policy field in Ontario and Canada passed away suddenly on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. Marvyn, 75, although retired after a distinguished career in the social planning field in Toronto and as Dean and teacher at the Ryerson School of Social Work, remained actively engaged as a contributor to the social policy work of the Social Planning Network of Ontario.
The Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) is an incorporated non-profit organization with a membership of 20 local and regional social planning and community development councils across Ontario, each with its own extensive network of non-profit and charitable community-based service agencies. The SPNO exists to build and support community capacity not only for purposes of sound community planning but also to develop and strengthen the range and quality of social services and supports to vulnerable populations in Ontario’s communities.
The primary resource that the community services sector brings to the multiple and complex needs of their localities and regions is the combination of time, knowledge, talents and skills of its workers. The Changing Workplaces Review observes that all work settings including those in the non-profit social sector are being transformed to some degree by technology in the knowledge society (Ontario Ministry of Labour [OML], 2015, p. 9). While the impact of rapidly changing technological innovation on the non-profit community sector cannot be denied, still most community service provision is primarily delivered on a face-to-face engagement basis at the ground level in everyday community life (Scott et al., 2006, p. 6). Yet, this work is often not recognized in terms of compensation nor highly valued, making the workforce in the non-profit social sector subject to conditions of precarious employment with its attendant implications not only for the workers occupying these jobs but also for the individuals, families and communities that depend on their services (Baines, Cunningham, and Shields, 2014, p. 82).
Inadequate employment standards are a major issue in general in the Ontario labour market, which is why the Changing Workplaces Review was initiated. There are particular issues meriting consideration with respect to the nature of employment in the non-profit, community-based social sector, which SPNO wishes to highlight for the Special Advisors.