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Mitchell Thompson

  • Federal pandemic assistance on the chopping block—another way to ‘discipline’ workers

    The Trudeau government’s willingness to curtail Employment Insurance eligibility and throw unemployed workers off its key pandemic benefit programs, prior to employment even fully recovering, is a reminder that leaving people behind remains a feature of Canada’s social assistance regime—not a bug. Effective October 23, barring any unexpected intervention, Canada’s main support programs for workers thrown into unemployment by COVID-19 will end.

  • Bill Davis’s anti-worker legacy

    According to many pundits, former Ontario Premier Bill Davis deserves credit for having “ushered in Ontario’s modern era”—one marked by underfunded hospitals, schools in disrepair, and enormous restrictions on the rights of workers to organize. In the end, Davis did what he had to to remain in power and maintain the status quo as best he could. But that status quo always required keeping the working class down.

  • Is the Canada Recovery Benefit a ‘workfare’ program in disguise?

    Leaving those in financial difficulty behind for a lower-wage future isn’t a bug in the Canada Recovery Benefit system—it’s a feature of a program designed and redesigned to crack down on recipients and maximize “incentive to work.” The CRB was, to this end, designed within the ‘workfare’ tradition that’s marked every social program in Canada since at least the mid-1990s.

  • The Regina Manifesto at 85: More relevant than ever?

    Despite the NDP leadership race’s left candidate, Niki Ashton, talking about how the party needs to return to the “bold socialist vision” offered in the 1933 Regina Manifesto—the founding programme of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation—few have discussed what that actually would mean. This is an oversight of some significance, because the Manifesto is remarkable for its painstaking description of what a socialist Canada would look like.

  • Canada’s five giant banks ought to be nationalized, not bailed out

    Canada’s banking system is on the edge of a crisis, once again, with a collective debt of $1.8 trillion—and the public will be on the hook for most of it, sooner than most think. Last week, the Bank for International Settlements said Canada, Hong Kong and China’s banking systems are the world’s most at-risk of a severe crisis.

  • Ontario NDP has no answers for Toronto’s homeless death crisis

    There’s no reason why this needs to be viewed as a crisis only for the currently poor, either. The economic shifts and the effects of austerity described by research coalition Homeless Hub, affect all working people in Toronto. In Globalization, Precarious Work and the Food Bank, Lightman, Mitchell and Herd write that with the onset of grinding austerity brought about by the Common Sense Revolution in 1995 , the number of food bank users in Toronto jumped from 115,000 to 170,000.

  • Housing in the age of austerity: Toronto’s war on the poor

    For those in Toronto’s growing majority of low income neighbourhoods, things are bad and getting worse—and it’s no accident. It wasn’t always this bad for Toronto’s non-rich residents. In 1970, 66 percent of Toronto neighbourhoods were middle-income. This was when the labour market allowed for single-income families, when social services were better available to the poor and when affordable housing was constructed according to need.

  • A brief history of Canadian labour woes

    In addition to a loss of union jobs, globalization also accelerated Canada’s shift from a manufacturing to a service sector-dominated nation, further weakening prospects for organizing. Much of this has to do with precarity, as non-standard work provides employers increased flexibility in scheduling, hiring, lay-offs and firing, acting as tools in employers’ arsenals to fight a drive.

  • Canada’s household debt crisis: Blame capitalism!

    The Bank of Canada’s last report reached the same scary conclusion “Canada’s dangerous brew of debt and inflated house prices could combine to devastate the economy,” Maclean’s reports. This should ring a bell to anyone with a passing familiarity with Marxist economics and the theory of the crisis of overproduction, in particular.

  • Inside Canada’s defence lobby

    Major defence contractors, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon and others have forged very strong ties to the Harper government. Through a web of lobbyists, former officials, generals and government insiders, critics say it is the interests of defence contractors, not the public that drives the purchase of military equipment.

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