Social policy in Canada faces three challenges having to do with income inequality, income insecurity, and the imbalance between work and family life. My presentation at the Queen’s University conference, “Social Canada Revisited,” begins by outlining three facts that illustrate these challenges:
- The share of total market income going to bottom-income Canadians has fallen
- Workers with steady employment suffer significant and long-lasting income losses after a layoff
- Families have changed to help cushion and support middle incomes, but the family-work balance is titled
I suggest that there are precedents in the existing Employment Insurance program that can be enhanced and built upon to more fully offer Canadians the social insurance they need and want, and put forward three enhancements that will move social policy in this direction.
- Enhance Working While on Claim and integrate it seamlessly with the Working Income Tax Benefit to offer steady and increased income support to lower-income Canadians in a way that mimics some versions of a Basic Income
- Introduce wage insurance that would top up weekly earnings for workers with a steady employment history who have suffered a permanent layoff
- Expand so-called “Special Benefits” by creating individual accounts over which individuals have complete sovereignty
Download a copy of my presentation for the details.