Roderick Benns recently interviewed Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Conservative MP Jamie Schmale on the issue of basic income and the Ontario Basic Income Pilot occurring in Lindsay this fall and for the next three years.
Benns: As the federal MP, what do you think about Lindsay being chosen as one of three sites for the Ontario Basic Income Pilot? People on Ontario Works will be given more to live on, and people who are working and yet not earning enough will be topped up. Is this a good idea in your mind? Why or why not?
Schmale: I believe it’s our responsibility to determine why Canadians are being asked to get by with less of their hard earned money. The average Canadian has 43 per cent of their income going to various levels of government through taxes.
In fact, a recent study shows that 70 per cent of lower middle class families are paying $382 more in tax since 2015 as a result of federal income tax changes. Combine that with the high level of hydro, fuel and food and we can quickly see how it all adds up. It’s government that needs to change. Nothing is going to solve this issue, or help the job market until the government changes its policy.
How can we expect Canadians to have jobs if small business is constantly under attack? How will rural communities get by? We need to promote job creation. If the government doesn’t support those who are creating jobs, who will? At the end of the day, we need to get to the root cause, which is the over-taxation of Canadians and the lack of support for small business and job creation.
Benns: One of the key arguments for a basic income is that it puts more money into the hands of lower income people who almost always spend their money locally. In what way can you see this helping Lindsay and area’s economy?
Schmale: John F. Kennedy once said, “Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested, will create a new job and a new salary.” We need to ensure taxes are low. It goes back to the main root cause, building a low tax, business-friendly environment that creates jobs. This will ensure all Canadians have more of their own money in their pockets to spend how they wish in the local economy.
Benns: Western economies like Canada’s seem to be moving toward more ‘precarious work’ — work that is part-time, contract, often without benefits. This is affecting Lindsay, too. Do you, or does your party, have any solutions to help with this?
Schmale: Yes, we do. Every time the government brings in new taxes or regulations it has a negative effect. It stifles innovation, entrepreneurism, and job creation. The new changes currently proposed by the federal government will cripple the small business community, dampen the entrepreneurial spirit and significantly affect the economy and jobs. We need to bolster private sector job growth; this will in turn create the full-time, well paid jobs of the future.
Benns: Would you like this pilot to run its course over the next three years, to see what the data indicates?
Schmale: Yes, it goes without saying that a careful examination of the data is essential to the evaluation of any program. However, we must not lose sight of the real problem. A program like this cannot be successful if governments do not control their own spending and reduce the burden on the very people that are expected to pay for it through taxation.
As European countries are rapidly finding out, you can only tax people so far before you run out of people to tax. Income redistribution is not the answer. A combination of low taxation and support for entrepreneurs and small businesses will provide Canadians the jobs they deserve and stimulate local economies like Lindsay.