Job Guarantee - see letter and footnotes below

Re: Adrienne Montani: B.C. Liberals must do more to help the poor, November 24, 2016

An estimated 2/3 of poverty could be eliminated simply by offering jobs, even at a minimum livable wage, to those willing to work. The experience of New Deal programs during the Great Depression and more recent initiatives in Argentina and India demonstrate that massive job programs can be up and running in 4 to 6 months and useful tasks can be performed even by the least skilled and least educated citizens. Reversing income inequality in Canada through job creation is simply a matter of political will.

While the actual jobs should be administered at local levels through municipalities and community groups, funding should be provided largely by the federal government. After the 2008 financial crash, the federal government offered financial institutions $200 billion to help them overcome their difficulties and maintain their CEO bonuses. For the financial establishment, the federal government acts as the lender of last resort when times are tough. For the poor and unemployed, the government should become the employer of last resort. Policy should be as just as devoted and generous to Main Street as it has been to Bay Street.


1. L. Randall Wray, Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute.

"Well it’s very easy to reduce the inequality that results from low income, from poverty, from low wages; all you have to do is offer jobs. Minsky did a calculation [in] 1974 and Professor Kelton and I did one around 2000. We showed that if you just give a job to anyone who wants to work you will eliminate two thirds of all poverty, even if you pay only the minimum wage. We would like to see the job pay more than that, but even at a minimum wage you eliminate two-thirds of all poverty. So most poverty is due to joblessness. People who cannot get jobs or maybe they get jobs that last a few months and then they are unemployed again. We need permanent jobs that pay a decent wage and you’ll eliminate most poverty. You’ll still need some kinds of anti-poverty programs but the jobs are the best anti-poverty programs there are, then you need something else to fill the gaps."

2. The Social Enterprise Sector Model for a Job Guarantee

"The experience of the New Deal and Argentina’s Plan Jefes shows that such programs can be up and running in 4 to 6 months and useful tasks can be performed even by the least skilled and least educated citizens."

3. Improving Access to Financing and Strengthening Canada's ...

"To soften the impact of the crisis, the first phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan included measures to provide up to $200 billion to support lending to Canadian households and businesses through the Extraordinary Financing Framework."


Modern Monetary Theory in Canada


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  • Larry Kazdan
    commented 2016-12-16 17:02:32 -0800
    Dear Richard Gibbons,

    Full details on how this would work along with historical precedents can be found in the links provided at

    As for your main point, as long as one defines “useful work” as only that which delivers a profit to an entrepreneur, many will be doomed to long-term unemployment. And this leads to high social and economic costs including lost production capacity, unstable family lives, higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse, mental ill-health and other pathologies.

    As J.M. Keynes 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…".
  • Richard Gibbons
    commented 2016-12-16 16:24:18 -0800
    I’m not sure of how to view this suggestion, because the statement that useful jobs can be performed even by the least skilled citizens doesn’t make much sense to me. Like, if such people can be productively employed at minimum wage (i.e. you get out more than you put into them), then why haven’t they already been productively employed? Or is the argument actually that you should spend, say, $1 billion paying for work that actually only produces a benefit of $100 million to society?

    And if there are truly that many citizens who would do minimum wage work, why are we importing temporary foreign workers? Are those TFW working for less than minimum wage, or are they doing jobs for minimum wage that citizens wouldn’t be willing to do for minimum wage? If the latter, are we then saying that government “employer of last resort” has to be a cushier minimum wage job than the existing minimum wage jobs that it is claimed citizens don’t want?

    It would also be interesting to know how this approach compares to a guaranteed minimum income.

    So, I’d like to understand this idea better, to truly understand what it meant and why it should work before it was added to the party platform (i.e. what jobs would these people do? What happens to TFW? What would be the cost?)
  • Bill Masse
    commented 2016-12-14 14:08:56 -0800
    Larry, as Research and Policy Chair and Vice Chair of the Platform Policy Advisory Committee, I want to thank you for your suggestion. Poverty is an extremely important issue requiring creative approaches.
    Bill Masse
  • Larry Kazdan
    posted about this on Facebook 2016-11-25 02:01:28 -0800
    Make a suggestion: Job Guarantee - see letter and footnotes below
  • Larry Kazdan
    published this page in Make a suggestion 2016-11-25 02:01:08 -0800
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