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Letter to Editor - Toronto Star

A new deal for Canada’s workers

Re: Canada’s job numbers don’t tell the real story, Opinion Aug. 17

The answer to unemployment is a job guarantee whereby the federal government would act as an employer of last resort, buying the unused labour (at minimum wages with benefits) of anyone willing and able to work. These jobs could be delivered locally and might include provisions for care of the elderly and disabled, education and activity for young people, arts and cultural performances and projects, and initiatives for environmental clean-up and protection.


This job pool would rise and fall counter-cyclically to the needs of the private business sector, and would anchor prices and inflation with an economic tool less brutal than forcing people to lose their jobs through austerity.


There are many precedents for public service employment. In 1944, the Canadian unemployment rate dropped below 1 per cent because one out of every three adult males was in government service. Far from destroying the economy, deficit spending led to post-war years of growth and prosperity.


As John Maynard Keynes once put it: “The Conservative belief that there is some law of nature which prevents men from being employed, that it is ‘rash’ to employ men, and that it is financially ‘sound’ to maintain a tenth of the population in idleness for an indefinite period, is crazily improbable — the sort of thing which no man could believe who had not had his head fuddled with nonsense for years and years.”



Larry Kazdan, Vancouver

 Footnotes to original Letter to Editor:

1.What is a Job Guarantee? 

But in general, there cannot be inflationary pressures arising from a policy that sees the Government offering a fixed wage to any labour that is unwanted by other employers. The JG involves the Government “buying labour off the bottom” rather than competing in the market for labour. By definition, the unemployed have no market price because there is no market demand for their services. So the JG just offers a wage to anyone who wants it.

2. Public service employment programs – what really have we got to fear?

3. What was Canada's main contribution to World War 2?

By the end of the second world war, Canada had ONE MILLION, ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND MEN IN UNIFORM. That is one out of every three adult males.

4. Keynes quote: