Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Denise Balkissoon writes about the importance of ensuring a just transition for fossil fuel workers - rather than using their jobs as bargaining chips to preserve oil industry profits. And Andrea Olive, Emily Eaton and Randy Besco point out that there's plenty of public support for carbon pricing and other elements of a strong climate change policy in Saskatchewan.

- Meanwhile, Nick Falvo offers a list of takeaways from the Moe government's first provincial budget - including multiple choices which will make life even more precarious for people facing poverty and precarity:
6. Social assistance benefit levels in Saskatchewan remain very low. For example, a single employable adult on social assistance in Saskatchewan receives approximately $9,000 annually on which to live (and pay rent). A person with a disability gets between $12,000 and $16,000 annually, depending on the severity of the disability. Every year, the value of inflation erodes the value of these benefits. (All of these figures can be found here.) 

7. This budget announced the phasing out of a rental housing benefit for low-income households. The Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement provided some additional rent money for low-income households with either children or a disability; but this budget announced that no new applications will be accepted as of July 1. The provincial government expects this will save the provincial treasury $5 million in the first year (or 0.03% of the total budget). Without the rent supplement in place, I believe it’s likely we’ll see more people becoming homeless in Saskatchewan, which itself comes with added costs to the public treasury. 

8. The budget’s decision to extend the PST to used car sales may disproportionately impact low-income households. The budget removes the PST tax exemption on (light) used car sales, which may translate into almost $100 million in new annual revenue. This will make it slightly more expensive to purchase a used car in Saskatchewan. The budget also restores the trade-in allowance when determining the PST—so, when a car owner is trading in a vehicle, they will only pay the PST on the difference in price of the trade in and the selling price for the vehicle they’re buying. 

9. The budget fails to address on-reserve child poverty. According to Census data, Saskatchewan’s on-reserve rate of child poverty (as measured by the After Tax Low Income Measure) is nearly 70%, second highest in the country after Manitoba. Neither this year’s budget nor last year’s takes meaningful steps towards addressing that.
- Heather Stewart reports on UK Labour's push for genuinely affordable housing - rather than stretching the term to fit homes priced far beyond people's means.

- Michael Geist discusses the dangers of allowing - and even encouraging - corporate giants to monitor and control online content. And Murad Hemmadi talks to Charlie Angus about Facebook's influence over public policy (even as it fails to register to lobby government).

- Finally, Ruth Dreifuss and Richard Elliott make the case for the decriminalization of personal drug use and possession in order to reduce the social harms arising out of prohibition.

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